It's all about technology
Every day, we at SYS TEC electronic work with a wide variety of technologies. Some are well-known and familiar, others are rather secret favorites. But they all have one thing in common: They are highly specialized tools that make our work easier and contribute to the success of customer projects. In the following, you will learn which technologies we use and how we work with them.
...microcontrollers and other embedded devices are often used without an operating system. They always perform their tasks in a fixed sequence and thus do not use multitasking. The potential of the existing technology thus often simply remains unused. Modern applications, however, demand the use of the complete hardware potential. For this case, an appropriate operating system is needed. For embedded devices FreeRTOS is the ideal choice. It is slim, offers the possibility of multitasking, allows various possibilities of memory management and is available for a wide range of microcontroller families.
Our work with FreeRTOS
At SYS TEC electronic FreeRTOS is an integral part of our microcontroller based solutions, which are used in customer projects and own products. The decisive advantage is the possibility to give the microcontrollers the ability to multitask in order to minimize waiting and idle times. In this way, the overall system can be significantly improved in terms of latency and deterministics. For the execution of certain tasks, data sets have to be waited for longer. Using FreeRTOS, the system does not have to block and is able to execute other activities in parallel without "wasting" time.
A practical application example of FreeRTOS can be found in our module sysWORXX SSM-100 in connection with structure-borne sound analysis. While the module waits for the acceleration data recorded autonomously by the hardware, complex calculations of the previous measurement series are performed simultaneously and sent via Ethernet. As a result, the module's operating time is fully utilized.
The flexible memory management is another factor for the use in SYS TEC electronic development. This is because it can be used either dynamically or statically. The dynamic variant is easier to use, but it bears the risk of runtime errors, e.g. due to memory leaks. If static memory management is selected, processes can be planned and executed optimally. This ensures more efficient use of memory, and at the same time the application can work faster and more reliably.
structure-borne noise monitoring
In order to avoid cost-intensive downtimes and to maintain with foresight, permanent monitoring of the machine data is recommended. This is possible, for example, by analyzing structure-borne noise.
The vibrations of a machine (generated by shafts, bearings, etc.) are recorded by attached sensors and the respective sensor data is processed and evaluated by means of an analysis procedure. In particular, vibration frequencies generated by the individual machine components can be detected and evaluated using this method. Damage to the components thus becomes visible through visually mapped frequencies long before the machine fails.
Our work in the field of structure-borne sound monitoring
With the main controller sysWORXX CTR-700, which acts as an edge controller, and the measurement module sysWORXX SSM-100, our team at SYS TEC electronic developed a compact solution for structure-borne sound analysis. The SSM-100 records the vibrations directly at the machine via acceleration sensors and calculates the frequency spectrum using Fast Fourier Transformation. This spectrum can be used to visualize the individual vibrations generated by the machine. If damage occurs in the machine, for example a bearing crack, this can be seen in a changed frequency spectrum.
Up to six channels can be analyzed simultaneously, for example to detect the three spatial axes individually at two measuring points. The frequency range extends from 1 Hz to 1 kHz. The transformation and filter algorithms used are flexible and can be adapted to individual requirements. Furthermore, this solution can be combined with other standard sensors and actuators (e.g. temperature, energy consumption, humidity, ...).
The result is a comprehensive overall picture of the machine or plant condition. This enables our customers to expand the machine analysis on plants of different ages, for example also with regard to energy monitoring.
The digitization or retrofit of a production line or an office building often fails because it is time-consuming and cost-intensive to make an existing plant "intelligent" at a later date
. The acquisition of environmental data, such as temperature or humidity, or even the position detection of one's own inventory begins with the challenge of subsequently connecting the necessary sensor technology to the already established infrastructure.
Wireless sensors that communicate by radio are one solution. The Finnish supplier Wirepas offers a very robust and thus reliable option for making existing infrastructure smart and intelligent in an industrial environment.
Our work with Wirepas
The charm of the Wirepas communication stack lies not only in the fact that it allows energy-efficient wireless communication with any sensors and actuators, but also in its intelligence.
Wireless nodes equipped with Wirepas organize themselves - without further configuration, they take care of the routing of data in their group. The individual nodes form a meshed network (mesh net) and thus independently use the optimal path for data transmission.
Each node in this mesh network can simultaneously send, receive and forward data to neighboring nodes. As a result, Wirepas distributes battery consumption evenly and the lifetime of the individual node is maximized. Each node always transmits only with the minimum possible power needed to bridge the distance to the neighboring node.
With our sysWORXX CTR-700 and the sysWORXX CTR-100 we offer two possibilities to connect wirepas networks to your infrastructure. The devices function as so-called sink and allow the use of any sensors or actuators running with Wirepas. Specifically, we also use Wirepas in combination with our devices to monitor our own manufacturing. If the environmental factors change unfavorably during production (increased temperature or humidity), this can be detected promptly via the battery-powered sensors. This allows us to react quickly and efficiently to any changes.
M2M or Machine-to-Machine - the direct communication and data exchange between devices is nowadays indispensable. The majority of industrial applications use classic and proven fieldbus systems, such as Modbus, CANopen, etc., for this purpose. However, if communication is not only to be available within the production hall, more modern interfaces and protocols must be used.
One of these is MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport). It enables secure and encrypted transport and can cover any distance via the Internet or local networks. When communicating with MQTT, a distinction is made between the roles of the broker and the clients. The broker manages all incoming and outgoing data, while the clients can send data to and receive data from the broker.
For this purpose, the client subscribes ("subscribes") to corresponding topics and publishes ("publishes") its own data under its own topics. A client receives only the data it subscribes to. The use of MQTT is simple, but at the same time very reliable and still allows a high level of security via user management and encryption.
Our work with MQTT
We at SYS TEC electronic Team work with the open network protocol because it is really easy to integrate into almost any system. We have already been working with MQTT since 2017 and use it for most applications. When collecting climate and energy data, for example, data is recorded through Modbus-, a serial interface on the sysWORXX CTR-700. Pre-processed, they are available to an MQTT broker for further processing, which can transfer them very conveniently to a local or cloud-based database if required. Internally, we use MQTT for communication within assemblies. Thus, data can be exchanged comfortably and securely between processes developed in different programming languages.
Microcontrollers and other embedded systems have become steadily more powerful in recent years. Using the devices without an operating system often makes no sense, since neither the entire hardware capacity can be utilized, nor the full potential exploited. For this case, experts resort to various operating systems - including Linux. Besides the obvious advantages, such as multitasking, it offers other benefits, such as a modular structure and easy expansion with additional software.
Our work with Linux
Many developers swear by it and also our team has been working with Linux for many years. It is used as an operating system for customer projects as well as for our own products. Compared to Windows it can be easily ported and adapted to different target hardware due to its modular structure. This is possible because the code of the Linux kernel and most distributions is publicly available. The software can therefore be precisely adapted to the hardware in order to obtain a robust and reliable overall system.
For example, the Linux distribution Debian is used on the sysWORXX CTR-700. In addition to the device drivers developed by us, which make all interfaces accessible, Linux allows new software to be installed at any time. Likewise, it is possible without much effort for users to develop their own applications in various programming languages (C, C++, Java, Java Script, Python, ...) for and on the device.
On the platform of the sysWORXX CTR-700 we also use the distribution Yocto for customer projects. This lightweight is specifically adapted to dedicated functionalities for a use case. Developers and vendors thus have better control and basis for update procedures. The reproducible builds allow projects with large quantities of the same devices to be rolled out smoothly.