19.04.2022 | Technical topic

Moving Electronics

Moving Electronics

Maßgeschneiderte Embedded-Systems für die Transportindustrie

Everything is on the move. Digitization is moving more goods and people around the world than ever before. High-speed trains connect metropolises around the globe. In companies, fully automated transport systems ensure the uninterrupted flow of materials.  Special vehicles are individually equipped and customized for a specific purpose.
Without the use of electronics and embedded systems, transport systems and vehicles today would not be able to provide the services we are used to.  


How do you meet the manifold challenges in the development and production of embedded systems and electronics in the transportation industry? Design, development requires know-how in many disciplines:

Durable and robust in motion

Transportation systems must be built to be exceptionally robust and durable. Railroads and other vehicles operate in all weather conditions. The impact and vibration loads on the sensitive electronics can be extreme and must not lead to any failures. Special consideration must be given to this from the outset in the selection of components and materials. Vehicles and components are expected to be serviceable for many years and can be quickly serviced in case of repair. Before the electronics are delivered, numerous demanding tests are carried out in climatic chambers and on vibrating tables. The requirements from the relevant industry standards must be taken into account as early as the development stage.

During production, care must be taken to ensure that large and massive components are fixed so that they do not tear off under high loads. The use of the product in different climatic zones must be taken into account in the thermal design and in the selection of components. Even at the highest temperatures, the circuit must still function as specified. At the lowest temperatures, the system is expected to power up without waiting. Batteries and displays in particular limit the possible applications and must be selected carefully.

The special requirements must also be taken into account in the housing design. Scratch and impact resistance, heat dissipation, tightness and robustness are mandatory in this market segment. The use of durable components available from several sources ensures the availability of the electronic system even in the event of any discontinuations. Open source software, such as Linux, speeds up hardware and software integration in the event of changes or availability problems during the product's lifetime. Embedded software must be designed to be extremely stable, fault-tolerant and robust. Updates, e.g., for potential security threat scenarios, must be able to be applied quickly and securely, even remotely. In any case, beyond development, a long-term stable partnership with the development partner is essential.

Seamlessly networked mobility

Today, there are hardly any transport systems and vehicles that are not networked or cannot be located. Regardless of whether they are used in intralogistics, containers, rail cars or commercial vehicles. Tracking functions are used to locate vehicles and components seamlessly at all times. This enables new business models and economic disposition of vehicles or containers, as well as security against theft and shrinkage. It is not uncommon for complete rail cars to disappear in molten metal. Global positioning systems, such as GPS, or special tracking systems for transport systems are installed indoors to determine the location. In addition to the electronics and software, the RF design for antennas and radio transmission must also be mastered by the developer.

The networking of components in a vehicle or between vehicles takes place using standardized bus systems, such as CAN bus or, more recently, Ethernet-based with TSN (Time Sensitive Networking). Electronics in vehicles are thus increasingly replacing traditional hydraulic and mechanical systems. This paradigm shift also extends into safety-critical areas such as steering and braking. Fleets, tracking devices and gateways on vehicles are in many cases connected to public mobile networks and ensure ongoing data exchange with each other and with higher-level control systems.

When networking vehicles and the transport infrastructure, the security aspect, in the sense of security, must be taken into account from the very beginning in the embedded system. Access security, encryption and authentication must be continuously managed and sustainably ensured. The complexity of networked systems places high additional demands on embedded developers and requires in-depth know-how about network technology, network security and encryption.

Moving ahead faster with intuitive operation

Simple, intuitive and error-free operation is important in vehicles. Last but not least, the user interface is an important design element of a device and a basis for decision-making for potential buyers.  Vehicle and device manufacturers differentiate themselves through the external appearance and user experience. This increases acceptance and reduces the learning effort and error-proneness of the operator. Multilingualism and appealing graphics ensure market success. Standardized web interfaces allow convenient integration and access to a vehicle or transport system in the IT infrastructure. In this way, equipment manufacturers can provide service personnel or end customers with access to equipment functions. In addition to the actual logical development of the operating functions, graphic design and analysis, creation and optimization of the user experience are also required. This is the only way to create frustration-free, easy-to-learn and intuitive products.

Energy-efficient in use

Transportation systems move large masses and require a lot of energy. A high proportion of the world's energy requirements is used for mobility and transportation. The trend is clearly moving in the direction of electromobility. Clever design in power electronics and optimized energy management can curb energy waste. The electrical energy fed into the grid is converted into motion with low losses. When masses are braked, the kinetic energy can be converted back into electrical energy and fed back into the grid or battery.

When batteries and accumulators are used, sophisticated electronics and software ensure a long service life for these components. Charging and monitoring circuits ensure that the accumulators with very high energy density can be used safely and without risk.

###IMAGE5## Developers of vehicles and transportation systems must therefore be just as familiar with battery technology and its safe application as they are with the possible energy-saving levels of different microprocessors and chips. The use cases of a system must be analyzed in advance in order to calculate an accurate energy balance. When processing large amounts of energy, safety in the sense of security must never be neglected. These are all challenging topics that require experienced developers.  

Safe and fast on the road

Modern vehicles and means of transport must be fast, quickly available and able to be deployed at short notice. The electronics and embedded systems must therefore be able to boot up immediately and without lengthy booting. This also applies to the operating units on a transport system.

The risk of malfunctions during operation must be reduced as far as possible as early as the development stage. To this end, comprehensive risk analyses must be carried out on an ongoing basis. Based on these analyses, measures must be derived to further minimize potential threats. Numerous certifications must be passed before the devices are used. Throughout the entire life cycle, the quality of production and the product are continuously monitored by authorities and authorized institutions. 

Redundant systems, sophisticated monitoring functions in hardware and software, and the use of components that meet the prescribed standards are used. Furthermore, long-term maintenance and care over the entire life cycle must be ensured in order to permanently guarantee the highest possible level of safety.  The developer of electronics and embedded systems for the transportation industry must always focus on safety.

Examples from practice

If you divide the multi-layered topics of developing systems for vehicles and transportation systems among different service providers, you will realize over time that you have created additional complexity. Coordination and agreement is a major challenge, especially in the event of a fault. That's why it's important to find a partner who supports smooth, holistic implementation.

Ginzinger electronic systems is a full-range supplier for the development of customized, integrated embedded systems. Proven components for modern operation, networking, Linux hard- and software, power electronics and microcontrollers are the basis for new devices.  The customer receives a proven and reliable solution from a single source and is accompanied throughout the entire product life cycle: From the initial idea, through implementation, industrialization including test equipment, to series production and after-sales service.

Many years of know-how and proven solutions in the transportation industry help customers to quickly master challenges and focus on their core competencies.  Here are a few examples:

Operating systems for fire engines
Rosenbauer International AG from Leonding, Upper Austria is the first port of call when it comes to innovative firefighting technology for use worldwide. When the group was looking for a new generation operating system for the cockpit of its fire engines, it came to cooperate with Ginzinger electronic systems. <<User story >>>

Exhaust gas tester with embedded Linux
AVL DiTEST, based in Graz (Ö), has been successfully providing automotive diagnostic and measurement solutions for the automotive after-sales sector worldwide for 20 years and is considered a pioneer in its industry. Approximately 320 employees ensure AVL DiTEST's status as a technology leader and reliable partner for automotive repair shops and automotive test centers. For the industrialization of embedded systems for its products, AVL DiTEST relied on the cooperation with Ginzinger electronic systems. <<Application history >>>

Sensors for railroad technology
Frauscher Sensortechnik GmbH has been developing and manufacturing high-quality products in the field of inductive sensor technology since 1987. The main area of application for these products is railroad technology systems that assume responsibility for the safety of railroad operations. This results in the highest requirements for all phases of the product life cycle, from the concept to the subsequent support of the products in the field.
<<Application history >>>

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