I am being shown around the production area of a Lifter company. I am especially interested in the initial operation department. In which we are going to watch a full system integration of our products. It’s a formidable sight, when a CAN-Bus starts and the platform springs into life.
I watch a new platform being driven into the start up area. The experienced employee instantly starts work and produces a durable power system for the platform.
I hear a loud beep and see the different flashing LEDs from the slope sensors and the HMI in the basket. A few seconds later, the employee activates the MCG WiFi by quickly pressing the capacitive switch. On his way back to his desk, the employee trips over the power cable and nearly falls over. He mutters something under his breath and the launch begins.
On the Laptop screen I can see our End of line Tool prompting the employee to pair to a device. The prompt monitor shows all the available platforms that are present in the production area. He glances at the consignment note and with one click, purposely selects the Platform in front of us. The Platform is now directly connected to the service computer. He explains that the Platform is specially configured. The customer would like a further switch to turn the headlights on. He proceeds with the Standard configuration of the platform.
He opens the application directory and chooses the desired Platform. I can see an information window telling us that the application is being transferred per WiFi. The employee tells me that before MCG-WiFi and the End of Line Tool it was a much more tedious job. Additional cables and a CAN-Dongle were needed to connect to a lifter, due to the cables, to initialize the launch, you had to stand at a rolling table. He also tells me that it’s now a lot more convenient to transfer the application.
At one time, the available possibilities were technically limited and the Hydraulic fine tuning was time consuming. He tells me he was previously more prone to tripping over the numerous cables and asks, with a smile if we could invent wireless electricity for them too, so there would be no danger of tripping in the workplace. We both start laughing , the information that the application has been successfully transferred appears. I start thinking ,wireless electricity is not as far fetched as it sounds, proposals for an inexpensive solution for rechargeable batteries for E-Cars are due to be announced within the next few days. Previous solutions were expensive and therefore seldom used. With an inexpensive solution, the last cables could disappear from the launch area.
The Platform is now nearly ready for end testing. The last adjustments need to be made to the special configuration and the fine adjustments to the hydraulics.
The Employee calls his colleague in the Applications department and asks him to make the modifications for the special configuration to the light switch. After a brief consultation they both agree the application engineer will install the modifications via remote access.
In order for the application engineer to access the Platform, it is necessary that the MCG WiFi be carried out in ‘client’ mode. This is done through pressing the same button. We no longer have access to the Platform as the application engineer has taken over the steering via the MOBA internet platform. We can however, follow what is happening through the display on the MCP control panel. After a couple of minutes, the application engineer announces via telephone, that the special configuration has been successfully completed and we can now carry on with the launch. With just 2 clicks we are once again directly connected to the Platform. The employee accesses the settings in the end of line tool, where you can see a picture of the platform with all its sensors, controllers and the HMI. A green LED shines beside each component, which tells us that all the components are working and ready for use. With a contented smile, the employee climbs into the drivers cab and drives into the open for further tests. I follow him and watch as he parks the platform in an area marked Parameterization and shifts into auxiliary mode. The employee climbs out of the cab with the Laptop and a HMI console in hand and goes to the stabilizer controls at the rear. He extends the outriggers a few times and lets me know that the ramp speed in the Endstop could do with a little fine tuning. He opens his service computer and I can see the Heading Parameterization and the values for all the relevant Hydraulic components. He overwrites the Ramp values and sends the amended values straight to the Platform, just by pressing enter. A few seconds later, he extends the outriggers once again and you can see how elegantly the outriggers glide in the ramp. Contented, he leaves the support controls, grabs the HMI and within a matter of seconds, pairs this to the MCG WiFi .
We take the Laptop and the remote control, walk about 15m to a glass box and sit on the table inside. He takes the remote control in his hand and starts his Platform trials. He extends and retracts every single telescope and carries out numerous rotations with the Platform. He happily ticks the boxes on his checklist one after another, whilst making minor adjustments to the Hydraulics. He sends the data directly to the platform and tests the function once again. When he is finished, a pop-up window appears, informing the employee that the Parameterization has been completed successfully. After pressing the enter button, another notification appears, asking the user if all the correct sensors have been installed and the securing of the Parameterization can begin.
By confirming the read out, all the components serial numbers are automatically saved in the devices Product file. It’s an impressive sight, a task that used to take hours, being completed within a matter of seconds and without spelling mistakes.
After the serial number read out is finished, the read out of the parameter settings on the Platform is carried out and also automatically saved in the product file. Enthusiastically, the start up engineer tells me it’s a great help, in the past, saving special configurations was complicated and when in need of servicing, the special applications had to be installed on the controller by the manufacturer. Replacing a controller would take a few days.
Nowadays, the service technician just takes the controller from his storage and changes the controller on the Platform. The application can be installed anywhere in the world from the MOBA internet platform within minutes.
The transfer is completed a few seconds later, this is confirmed by a tick on the display
By the way: We are in the year 2021. Welcome to the future!