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Conference on electronics in mobile machinery

Safety was the dominating topic of the 1st conference on electronics in mobile machinery. The event took place in parallel to the 5th conference on electronics in road cars and the 3rd conference on electronics in commercial vehicles. The VDI Wissensforum, a daughter of the nonprofit VDI association of German engineers, organized all three events. In total, there were more than 400 attendees.

Electronics in mobile machinery: … … Safety was an important topic.

JUST A COUPLE OF MONTH AGO, THE VDI decided to organize the 1st conference on electronics in mobile machinery. Initiated by Claas, a manufacturer of agriculture trucks and harvesters, and Putzmeister, producer of truck-mounted concrete pumps, as well as some suppliers (e.g. Hydac), the event was rather successful. The first session collected more attendees than the room’s capacity of some 160 seats. Peter Hieronymus (Claas) and Dirk Jahn (Putzmeister) introduced general trends and challenges for the electronics in agriculture vehicles respectively in construction machines. One common topic was the introduction of functional safety. But both industries references different standards, which leads to different solutions. By the way, also in the both other conferences, functional-safety was an important, not say dominating, topic. TTTech presented a safety-related controller compliant with ISO 13849 and IEC 61508 respectively IEC 62061. The carmakers have an own safety standard (ISO 26262), which is supported by some micro-controllers implementing specific safety circuitry. The agriculture machine industry has also its own safety standard: ISO 25119. Johannes Lange working with Claas, explained in his paper requirements and applications of functional safety in agriculture engineering. For implements controlling the tractor a safe communication via the Isobus is required, which meets the Performance Level c. It is achieved by transmitting a running number in the CAN frame. In construction machines, the CANopen Safety protocol is a possible candidate for safe communication. The TÜV Rhineland has approved it for application up to the Safety Integrity Level 3 comparable with the Performance Level d or e. Hydac introduced some safety sensors with an optional CANopen Safety interface. The can be used in conjunction with the safety controller from TTTech. Agriculture as well as construction machines make use of CAN-based networks. While in diesel engines commonly the J1939 protocol is preferred, the construction machines often implement CANopen as higher-layer protocol. The agriculture machine industry has developed an open network approach, trademarked as Isobus and internationally standardized in the ISO 11783 series. Besides Putzmeister, Liebherr and Wirtgen reported about their strategies to develop electronic control systems for construction machines. Martin Rajek (Liebherr) explained his understanding on long-term and sustainable concepts for mobile machinery. It was a more philosophical paper with a lot of interesting views (e.g. that a software update or review may increase the value of machine during its lifetime). One of the challenges he addressed is the management (testing and validation) of control system variants. This is the same in agriculture and construction machinery: The volume is low and the number of specific solutions is high. Also other speakers (e.g. from Bosch-Rexroth, Krone, and TTTech) spoke about the need of scalable control devices, and presented their solutions.
Interesting is that both mobile machinery industries develop increasingly the electronic control systems by means of the V-model as the automotive industry is doing. Vector presented its software tool chain for both industries supporting the specific higher-layer protocols (CANopen, Isobus, and J1939).
The three conferences were accompanied by an exhibition, participated by more than 30 companies. Jetter and TTTech exhibited their controller families for mobile machines with CAN connectivity. Hydac presented its CAN connectable hydraulic and sensor devices. Atmel, Bosch, and Infineon informed about their CAN semiconductors portfolios. Dspace, Etas, and Vector showed their well-known development and testing tools.
The 1st conference on electronics in mobile machinery was a success. Many participants appreciated the know-how exchange and the direct talks to engineers from other application fields. Dr. Wolfgang Runge, one of the conferences’ mentors, thanked the sponsors and the speakers to make this event happened. “It was just a view month from the idea to the event.” No doubt, a follow-up conference on electronics in mobile machinery is desired.