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Software updates on site

STW (Germany) offers the option of updating the control systems of mobile machines on site, using only a USB stick. Other communication interfaces such as CAN are provided as well.

(Photo: STW)

WHEN INTEL LAUNCHED USB 1.0 ONTO THE MARKET, with the aim of standardizing the interfaces of peripherals on workstation PCs, it was impossible to conceive what an impact USB would have on the world of mobile machines or industry. USB has proven itself suitable for a range of applications, including mass data storage, printers, scanners and cameras, and for more trivial applications, like USB-powered coffee cup warmers.

Now, for some machine operators, the option of a coffee warmer may be the decisive criterion for the purchase of a machine, but usually the efficiency and availability of the machine wins. For an intelligent machine, it should be possible to update the software configuration automatically or, at least, as simply and quickly as possible, without risk, and with minimum downtime.

STW offers the option of updating the control systems of mobile machines on site, using only a USB stick. Software updates can be downloaded without an additional computer or diagnostic system uploaded to the machine. The prerequisite is that the vehicle or machine is equipped with an ESX-3Xx controller with the EB07 expansion board. The EB07 adds USB to the basic configuration of the ESX control units. It is equipped with its own 400 MHz CPU and a Linus Kernel including 1 GiB Data Flash. It also brings additional communication ports, such as CAN, EIA-232, and Ethernet.

Before the update process can be performed, the application developer uses the Update Data Generator software (UDaG) to create an Update Data Package (UDaP). The update generator compiles all necessary components (including scripts and programs) for the update package. The update package contains the updated application-specific program, as well as additional auxiliary files, and an automated security mechanism. The company supplies the necessary tools to create the data package, and sample code for the target controller for both C- and Codesys applications. As soon as the UDaP is available on the USB stick, it can be connected to the ESX-3Xx controller, and the update is performed automatically.

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