Examples of this additional hardware are: sirens, flashing lights, ladders, stabilisers, temperature control etc. It is important in this case for the control system to be easy to programme and configure for the company that builds in the hardware. Depending on the type of vehicle being converted, adapted functionalities are required. The company must be able to programme these itself. In this sector, reliability is an absolute requirement.
Previously the customer had to request every change. The reasons for this were: the complex development environment, programme memory size and control speed. Another reason is that once the vehicles are in the field, updating software is not easy. It requires specialist personnel and hardware. The question put to ICT was whether it could develop a controller for this purpose which is freely programmable using a standard programming language many engineers are familiar with. The ability to update the software is important too. It must be possible to do this easily (even for users of the vehicle) and it must be possible to do it remotely as well.
In addition, the performance and the memory need to be good enough so that this does not result in any further restrictions for the programmers to work around. ICT used the MCP platform for this task. This platform contains a Soft PLC control unit which can be programmed according to IEC61131. Memory is no longer a limitation for this application. Additional programmes can now be added for customers. To improve performance, a processor was selected that is more than adequate for the application but also has a favourable cost profile. The controller now communicates with the I/O module through various buses, and cycle times have also been greatly improved as a result.
The company is very satisfied with the selected solution and has immediately resolved all its customers’ complaints as a result. An equally important advantage is that a platform is now available that makes new developments possible, including remote software updates, error logging, remote and preventative service, process parameters etc. Thanks to this new controller the company’s solution now has an advantage over other solutions in the market and it is additionally able to cut costs. The ROI figures are positive thanks to retention of existing customers and the extension to new customers and new applications. The product offers more features than comparable products. In addition a better delivery guarantee can be offered since the whole system is now administered by the company itself.