How embedded systems support environment protection

The Client

A manufacturer of industrial vehicles with headquarters in Western Europe and a presence in 20 countries.

  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • CAN
  • CANOpen
  • Linux
  • QT
  • Gitlab
  • JIRA
  • Confluence
  • C
  • XRay
  • C++
  • CodeSys
Since July 2019

Innovating for a greener future

The client specializes in manufacturing waste collection vehicles, equipped with sophisticated internal systems designed to automate complex processes. A key objective of the organization is environmental conservation, which drives the need for efficiency. By minimizing waste, they aim to contribute to their environmental goals.

The company is actively developing innovative hardware solutions. Recognizing the necessity for optimization, they have decided to modernize their software. The new application is intended to manage the processes of waste collection, transportation, and sorting. In addition, it needs to meet strict (e.g., local and global, such as ISO / IEC / EC) safety regulations.

Existing software had some limitations, particularly in terms of connectivity and IoT capabilities. The new solution needs to integrate advanced industrial IoT technologies, including smart sensors, IoT communication architectures, machine learning algorithms, and energy-efficient components. This integration will optimize the way the client’s machines operate, aligning with the organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Integration of multi-disciplinary engineering

The project is unique due to the complex systems and technological combinations of different engineering areas (software, electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic).

Given the multifaceted nature of the engagement, we approached it from several angles. We needed to support the client in developing the new system architecture, but also by setting up a new software development process.

The client wanted to follow the V-Model software development process and safety standards used in the automotive industry. The V-Model would provide them with the necessary traceability and an easy-to-use design environment.

We also needed to build a well-defined and error-free process to optimize the work of the client’s engineering team. This aimed to enhance efficiency of the team and allow for future refinements in the system’s operations.

The final challenge was to facilitate consistent communication between software and hardware engineering areas, to support project management and collaboration. We needed to cooperate with the client’s software department, but also with mechanics, hydraulics, and electrics specialists.

Comprehensive IoT development

Our engagement commenced with a thorough, ground-up analysis of the customer’s system. Incomplete software documentation posed a small challenge. To address it, we collaborated closely with the client’s engineers, dissecting the source code to understand its intricacies. This exercise allowed us to convert their expertise into actionable tasks and subsequently, craft comprehensive documentation.

Together with the client’s team, we devised a roadmap for developing a new solution. This plan made provisions for future applications related to connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT) in the new system.

Central to unleashing the full potential of the upgraded software was the adoption of a consistent, group-wide process. This approach was anchored in industry best practices and standards, notably the V-Model. Additionally, we integrated a suite of established tools, including GitLab, JIRA, Confluence, and Xray, to support collaboration and quality management.

A key facet of the development process involved running software and hardware simulations. These simulations were crucial for initial system integration, aimed at minimizing hardware errors and ensuring software reliability.

We have also worked on collecting and interpreting data from sensors. This data was vital for assessing the durability of materials and components used in the manufacture of waste collection vehicles.
To inspect and validate the software against strict requirements, we created machine prototypes and conducted usability tests. The automation of these testing solutions paved the way for the development and verification of additional functionalities.

To facilitate effective testing, we established a laboratory within the office. This lab simulated the operational environment of the machines, lending authenticity to the performance results. This setup was particularly advantageous during periods when onsite visits were not possible, allowing the Scalo team to conduct tests uninterrupted.

The purpose of this type of testing is to simulate years of real-world usage in a short time, while collecting necessary data from the mechanic, hydraulic, and electric systems. The data gathered serve further analysis to verify the construction stability, the strength of materials, and the general safety of usage.

waste collection software visualization

Driving efficiency in industrial manufacturing

The results of our cooperation impacted several areas:

  1. Enhancement of the overall quality of the software, creating a more robust and reliable system.
  2. Automation of the software development process, resulting in greater consistency and efficiency in process verification.
  3. Establishment of a unified process and the adoption of common tools to facilitate communication and collaboration among multisite teams.
  4. Improved efficiency in project management activities, encompassing planning, task assignments, time tracking, reporting, and monitoring of testing metrics.
  5. Adoption of a unified software development process across all engineering departments of the company, leading to streamlined operations.

We developed a software solution helping execute repairable behavior and collect data from multiple sensors. This software is also capable of decoding and synchronizing data streams into formats compatible with analytic tools.

This project was managed using the Waterfall methodology at a macro level, while the software development tasks were executed using the Scrum framework. This approach was crucial, as Agile methodologies like Scrum allowed us to adjust business requirements and identify issues earlier.

By enhancing and optimizing these critical processes, we have boosted our client’s competitive edge in the manufacturing of modern, sophisticated industrial vehicles. This enhancement enables them to produce more efficient machines with optimized operations, thereby reducing their environmental footprint.

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