Solutions & Applications

The Next Level for Automated Production & Business

– in a team with smart systems and smart people –

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Solutions & applications –
The benefits of our partner network – summarized for you

 

You are not bound to a dedicated technology when solving a problem?

You prefer an integrated all-in solution to a mixture of customized products?

Or are you simply interested in what else we have to offer?

Unlike the individual technologies outlined on the other pages, this area is reserved for complete end-to-end solutions for individual applications.

Whether you are looking for our own concepts or the results of our successful work of our work in our partner network – here you will find what you are looking for and get a first taste.

On this page you will be informed about:

Smart Update – Secure update management for the industrial shop floor

Smart Edge- / Cloud IntegrationIOT SDK Toolkit macchina.io

Autonomous Control Applicances – Autonomous control of drones and robots

Smart Update

Application Area

The Smart Update’s application area is the typical industrial shop floor. Many individual machines – from HMIs and gateways to entire robot arms – form a well matched assembly line, the lifeline of every manufacturing industry.

Today, the systems in an assembly line need not only one initial alignment to each other but must be fine-tuned and interconnected on a regular basis.

The heart of these systems is firmware supplied by the machine manufacturer.

The topicality of this firmware is decisive for the machinery’s range of functions, the software errors it contains and the associated safety risks, which is why regular software updates are a MUST-HAVE.

Yet some machine manufacturers offer (more or less) integrated solutions for their devices. At least, however, the firmware is made available online for the end customers.

The convenience of automatic updates which we are used to from office IT and smartphones and which has been taken for granted in this domain for years, is still too far away from being a standard in OT. There are good reasons for this.

Machinery downtimes due to updates and errors or breakdown in the assembly line as a result of incompatible updates is a nightmare for every operator.

Every minute of standstill in production costs money – that means reliability is one of the key factors. So what does this process look like process today?

There are two realistic scenarios for modern shopfloor software updating that may occur individually or in combination with each other.

 

Scenario 1- Cutting edge fully integrated machine park

Each of the manufacturer’s components has an integrated update solution. The machine operator manages the machinery’s firmware status via manufacturer-specific applications and can control the required updates.

As long as the number of different machine manufacturers is manageable, everything is fine. Problems arise when the machine operator has to manage a large number of different portals/applications, or the manufacturer software does not support the compatibility between them.

Scenario 2 (more common) – the update process is handled manually to a large extent

The manufacturer’s engineer takes a tour through the shopfloor to install the updates manually on each machine (e.g. via USB sticks).

In most cases, the firmware is installed on a test system first,and only after some time of troublefree operation the firmware will be released for the shop floor. That means: the update process is done more than only once – and can last over several days.

This is a time-consuming and usually error-prone process.

This is where Smart Update comes in.

The Concept

The concept for the “Smart Update” secure firmware update system  is our proprietary development on based on established IT and industry standards.

With this system we intend to give back full control to the machine operator over the firmware status of his machinery – independent of manufacturers.

This will be achieved by registering the (test) machines in the Smart Update System and defining the firmware supply source.

Depending on the technical interface, this information can even be used to generate a live overview showing the machinery’s current firmware status and possible updates. But this is only the beginning.

Software Repository

The update system itself generates an independent, device-specific firmware repository that manages the current firmware version, previous versions and updates.

This is vital for step-by-step updates and particularly for device-recovery processes and rollbacks.

Security

The system uses current encryption methodologies for secure communication and device management.

A quarantine repository ensures clean separation of potentially malicious and verified firmware.

Reliability

Smart Update allows to perform health checks on various connected machines.

Depending on the type of machine, simple network pings or complex machine-specific functions can be integrated.

They can run automatically with each update to verify the completeness of the installation and – if required – to perform rollbacks.

Heterogeneity

Manufacturer-independent software such as Smart Update allows to manage and organize, devices supplied by various manufacturers in one single software package.

There is no vendor lock-in and heterogeneous system landscapes are managed efficiently.

In addition, dependencies of different software versions or dependencies between devices can be modelled in the system.

RBAC

Not every user should be able to trigger updates? You want to map your company structures in the system and set up release workflows? – This is possible with Role-Based Authorization Control (RBAC).

Lightweight

Thanks to its efficient architecture, the Smart Update System can be operated on industrial PCs as well as on SOCs or Edge devices.

If requested, the dashboard can also be displayed as a web application on mobile devices via a secure HTTPS connection.

Logging

A complete logging mechanism of processes ensures transparency and traceability of the history.

Device-specific logging is particularly helpful when it comes to audits and device certifications.

Smart Edge / Cloud Integration

The scope of applications for Smart Edge and/or Smart Cloud Integration covers a variety of domains – from simple machine networking in the production hall to Edge Analytics in the  industry 4.0 context or even to large sensor networks for Smart Cities.

There are countless infrastructure solutions for these kinds of problems in the market. In our long history, we have dealt with many of them, but only a few have really convinced us.

Above all, we have often seen a great contrast between “developer-friendly” and “end-user-friendly“.

Offered products that look attractive for end users can be arranged easily and thus allow to produce IOT use-cases with just a few simple clicks. For some people this is totally sufficient, but if you like to use hierarchical architectures, higher performance or just different protocols, this usually entails a huge effort for the developer.

On the other hand, developer-friendly tools offer an extremely high degree of flexibility and possibilities for individual extensions, but the ordinary user is usually overwhelmed rather than motivated by this freedom.

The art of Edge- /Cloud integration is to design the architecture as lean as possible with maximum efficiency.

However, not only efficiency is important, but also the tailor-made implementation adapted to the requirements.

 

Which level of data throughput is required for the application?

Which hardware solution harmonizes best with the architecture?

Does the device have to be robust enough for outdoor use or does it interfere with other devices in a factory building?

 

Our contribution in this context should be understood as a complete package. It ranges from the simple consulting and feasibility analysis around the application case to the creation of an architectural concept and the “hands on” implementation on site.

Of course, an existing IT system landscape, allows to integrate existing hardware or software stacks on a large scale to not only create an isolated solution but also to add value through reusability.

If your choice of the IOT-SDK has not been made so far, we would like to refer to our positive experiences with the solution of our Austrian partner macchina.io.

macchina.io’s IOT SDK enables the creation of a user-friendly and yet highly efficient architecture due to the hardware-oriented programming based on C++ as well as high-performance POCO C++ libraries.

Whether using macchina.io or a different (open source) solution, together we will find the ideal strategy for your individual application for a Smart Edge or Smart Cloud Integration – we look forward to this challenge.

Autonomous Control Appliances

Are you planning to let a robot, a drone or another vehicle explore the environment autonomously?

Due to our focus on embedded integration and AI & Vision, such projects meet our special interest.

The reliable and safe movement of an object through space is the supreme discipline in both fields. Both information on sensors and cameras must be collected and interpreted directly on the vehicle.

Based on this analysis, a strategy for locomotion is prepared, from which a movement pattern is derived and directly split into simple commands for the individual hardware components for further transmission.

This entire chain of events is triggered in just a few milliseconds.

Of course, the timeframe is continuously checked and corrections are made if necessary. So you notice – the topic is slightly complicated.

In 2018 we first came in touch with the development of such a technology in a project for the further development of autonomous drones.

Our detailed project task was to integrate several cameras and ultrasonic sensors into the drone itself.

The information generated by these components is needed for the effective navigation and – using AI technology – to enable lightweight on-board object recognition by the camera.

As a result the images can directly be evaluated on the autonomous drone without support from the ground station.

In addition, a clearly programmed handling instruction can be stored when a semi-skilled object is detected, such as sending a message to the ground station or activating an alarm system.

However, this type of technology is not limited to the domain of drones – it can be used wherever a real-time environment check is required for safe movement through space.

The Robotics and Production/Logistics sector stands out in particular and offers a wide range of application for the further automation of production lines and for improving the safety aspect in the interaction between humans and robots.

Do you have a similar challenge and simply want to find out more about this area?

As already mentioned – we look forward to your inquiry on this subject.