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Q&A with Duecker

Control unit for mowing machines

Duecker and Miunske have collaborated: Miunske developed a CAN control unit for Duecker’s mowing machines.

(Photo: Miunske)

Several thousand of the more than half a million kilometers of Germany‘s roads are covered in vegetation to the left and right of the carriageway. But trees, bushes, and green corridors also need to be tended to. The company Gerhard Duecker from Stadtlohn (Germany) equips vehicles to carry out this work. A lot of technology is required to enable machinery like the mowing outrigger to function reliably. A particular challenge lay in wait for Duecker in the context of the further development of an electro-hydraulic control unit, in which the installed system also needed to be adapted. By Wire from Miunske spoke to Manfred te Vruegt, who was responsible for the project on the side of Duecker.

The control unit from Miunske for Duecker with CAN (Photo: Duecker)

Q: Mr te Vuegt, you implemented the „Control Unit for Outriggers Project“ together with Miunske. Was it a good choice in retrospect?

A: Without question. Miunske impressed us once again with its in-depth technical know-how. Not least because the set of requirements for the product was very concrete and hence not the easiest thing to accomplish.

Q: What particular challenges had to be over-come?

A: On the one hand, there is relatively little space in the vehicles. This meant that a compact design was absolutely essential. On the other hand, this product was to make it possible to control a large number of functions. We, or in this case Miunske, therefore faced the same problems as many who operate in the automotive sector: a lack of space.

Q: Which is hard to imagine. After all, most people know about mowing vehicles only from road transport: vehicles in which, per se, there ought to be enough space...

A: But it must not be forgotten that these vehicles are work tools. Even if these workplaces nowadays provide much more comfort than only a few years ago, their range of activities requires a whole host of technology, which takes the strain off the driver and also needs to be accommodated.

Duecker’s mowing machine with a CAN control unit (Photo: Duecker)

Q: Specifically in a Mercedes-Benz Unimog, which is regarded as the all-rounder in the municipal economy. A particularly tricky task?

A: As a Mercedes Unimog Expert-Partner, we at Duuecker know every little detail about the vehicles. The requirement for our control units is that they should be able to be inserted as harmoniously as possible into the cockpit. And we don‘t want to do it alone in terms of technology, either. It was therefore clear from the very outset that that we would rely on CAN.

Q: Did Miunske‘s know-how in relation to CAN systems tip the balance in its favor?

A: Up to a certain point, yes. But we have known Miunske for a number of years now. Up to now, though, we have purchased mainly relay technology from them. In terms of the control unit for outriggers, our specification was for a universal CAN node. The aim was then to control accessory equipment centrally via an operator console in the driver‘s cab.

Q: How should one imagine a control unit like this?

A: The major part is set via a control dial. Many will be familiar with the principle from navigation devices installed in cars: If you turn a knob, you can navigate through a menu. Pressing the knob will confirm the selection. The control unit also, of course, needs to recognize these inputs and use the CAN network to send them to the corresponding device. This rotary encoder is therefore an essential part of the control unit. Important machine functions such as emergency stop switch, switching the machine on and off and switching blade shaft drives on and off have permanently assigned keys.

Q: Does that mean that not all keys have a standard configuration, but can be specially customized for different applications or accessory equipment?

A: Correct. That is why we did not use a standard CAN keyboard, preferring plug-in strips. Miunske‘s parameterization software then enables us to make any necessary adjustments ourselves.

Q: How long does it take to implement a complex control unit like this?

A: It is not possible to give a blanket answer to that question. It took around six months from the initial request for quotation up to the pilot series for the embankment mower. This is a completely acceptable time frame for Duecker. Both the hardware and software were developed and necessary corrections made within this period.

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