Solutions & applications –
The ripe fruits of our partner network – gathered for you
You are not bound to a dedicated technology when solving a problem?
Are you more interested in an integrated overall solution than in several individual solutions?
Or are you simply interested in what else we have to offer?
In contrast to the individual technologies described 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 mature fruits of our work in our partner network – here you will find what you are looking for and get a first taste.
Field of application
The application area of the Smart Update is the typical industrial shop floor. Many individual machines – from HMIs and gateways to entire robot arms – form a well coordinated production line, the lifeline of every manufacturing industry.
In modern production lines, all these systems are not only initially coordinated with each other, but are also continuously fine-tuned and connected with each other.
The heart of these systems is a firmware provided by the machine manufacturer.
The topicality of this firmware is decisive for the range of functions provided by the machines, the software errors it contains and the associated safety risks, which is why regular software updates are a MUST-HAVE.
Some machine manufacturers already offer – more or less integrated – solutions for their devices. At the very least, however, you make the firmware available online for the end customers.
The convenience of automatic updates which we know from office IT and smartphones and which has been taken for granted in this domain for years, is currently still missing to a large extent in OT. There are good reasons for this.
Downtimes of the machines due to updates and errors/damages in the production line due to incompatible updates belong to the horror scenarios of every operator.
Every minute in which the production line comes to a standstill costs money – so reliability is one of the highest goods. So what is the reality of this process today?
The current reality of software updates on the shop floor can be roughly descriped via two seperate scenarios or a combination of both respectively.
Scenario 1- modern fully integrated machine park
Each component of a manufacturer has an integrated update solution. The machine operator manages the firmware status of his machines via manufacturer-specific applications and can update them in a controlled manner.
As long as the number of different machine manufacturers is manageable, this is a good state. Problems arise when the machine operator has to keep a large number of different portals/applications in view, or the manufacturer software does not address the compatibility with each other.
Scenario 2 (more frequent) – the update process is mostly manual
A technician from the machine manufacturer is ordered into the house and he clatters machine after machine on the shop floor to manually install the updates (e.g. via USB sticks).
In most cases, the firmware is even installed on test systems, which must run error-free for some time before the firmware is released for the shop floor. The update process itself is repeated in the course of this – sometimes delayed over several days.
This is a time-consuming and usually error-prone process.
This is where Smart Update comes into play.
The concept for the secure firmware update system “Smart Update” is a proprietary development on our part based on established IT and industry standards.
Our goal with this system is to give the machine operator back full control over the firmware status of his machines – independent of manufacturers.
This is achieved by registering the (test) machines in the Smart Update System and defining the source of the firmware.
Depending on the technical interface, this information can be even used to generate a live overview showing the current firmware status of the machine and possible updates. But this is only the beginning.
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 especially for device-recovery processes and rollbacks.
The system uses current encryption methodologies for secure communication and device management.
A quarantine repository ensures clean separation of potentially malicious and verified firmware.
Smart Update offers the possibility to perform health checks on different connected machines.
Depending on the type of machine, simple network pings or complex machine-specific functions can be integrated here.
These can be executed automatically with each update to verify the completeness of the installation and – if required – to perform rollbacks.
By using manufacturer-independent software such as Smart Update, devices from different manufacturers can be managed and organized in a single software package.
There is no vendor lock-in and heterogeneous system landscapes are managed efficiently.
Dependencies of different software versions or dependencies between devices can also be modelled in the system.
Not every user should be able to trigger updates? You want to map your company structures in the system and set up approval processes? – This is possible with Role based authorization control (RBAC).
Thanks to its efficient architecture, the Smart Update System can be operated not only on industrial PCs but also on SOCs or Edge devices.
If desired, the dashboard can also be displayed as a web application on mobile devices via a secure HTTPS connection.
A complete logging mechanism of the processes ensures transparency and traceability of the history.
Device-specific logging is especially helpful in the context of audits and device certifications.
Smart Edge- / Cloud Integration
The range of applications for Smart Edge and/or Smart Cloud Integration extends across a variety of domains – from simple machine networking in the production hall to Edge Analytics in the context of industry 4.0 or even to large sensor networks for Smart Cities.
There are countless infrastructure solutions for these kinds of problems on the market. In our long history, we have dealt with many of them, but only few have really convinced us.
Above all, we have often seen a great contrast between “developer-friendly” and “end-user-friendly“.
Offered products that cut a good figure for end users are easy to put together and thus enable easy “clickable” IOT use-cases. For some people this is totally sufficient, but if you like to use hierarchical architectures, higher performance or just other protocols, this is usually connected with a huge effort on the developer side.
On the other hand, developer-friendly tools offer an extremely high degree of flexibility and possibilities for individual extensions, but the simple user is usually overwhelmed rather than motovated by this freedom.
The art of Edge- /Cloud integration is to design the architecture as lean as possible with maximum efficiency.
But not only efficiency is important, but also the tailor-made implementation adapted to the requirements.
How high must the data throughput be for the application?
Which hardware solution harmonizes best with the architecture?
Does the device have to be robust for outdoor use or does it interfere with other devices in a factory building?
Our contribution in this context is to be understood as a complete package. It ranges from the simple consultation and feasibility analysis of the application case to the creation of an architectural concept and the “hands on” implementation on site.
With an existing IT system landscape, it is of course possible to integrate existing hardware or software stacks on a large scale in order to create not only an isolated solution but added value through reusability.
If your choice of the IOT-SDK has not yet been made, we would like to refer you to our good experiences with the solution of our Austrian partner macchina.io.
The IOT SDK from macchina.io enables the creation of a user-friendly and yet highly efficient architecture due to the hardware-oriented programming based on C++ as well as the high-performance POCO C++ libraries.
Whether using macchina.io or another (open source) solution, together with you we will find the optimal strategy for your individual application for a Smart Edge or Smart Cloud Integration – we look forward to the challenges.
Autonomous Control Appliances
Do you have the goal to let a robot, a drone or another vehicle explore the environment autonomously?
Due to our focus on embedded integration and AI & Vision, we enjoy this kind of tasks very much.
The reliable and safe movement of an object through space is the supreme discipline of both areas. Information on sensors and cameras alike must be collected and interpreted directly on the vehicle.
Based on this analysis, a strategy for locomotion is chosen. A movement pattern is derived from this strategy and is directly split into simple commands for the individual hardware components and then forwarded.
This entire chain of events is triggered in just a few milliseconds.
Of course, the subsequent course is continuously checked and corrections are made if necessary. So you notice – the topic is slightly complicated.
We had our first contact points with the development of such a technology in 2018 in a project for the further development of autonomous drones.
More specifically, we were faced with the task of integrating several cameras and ultrasonic sensors into the drone itself.
The information from these components is needed to navigate effectively and – using AI technology – to enable lightweight on-board object recognition by the camera.
This makes it possible to evaluate the images directly on the autonomous drone without support from the ground station.
In addition, a clearly programmed action 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 alone – it can be used wherever a real-time environment check is required for safe movement through space.
The domains of Robotics and production/logistics in particular stand out and offer a broad field of application for 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 written – we are very pleased to receive inquiries from this area.