Avant Tecno manufactures small loaders that you might come across virtually anywhere in the world. Avant’s trademark is innovative and original design. Having more than 200 different devices to their name makes it possible to adapt their loaders for use in many different contexts.
This was done:
- Development of the Bosch-Rexroth ECU software
- Building the HIL testing system for the ECU
- Creating the software and product development process for Avant Tecno
Introducing an electronic control unit revolutionises Avant Tecno’s product development – Devecto works with them to develop their software and HIL testing
Devecto and Avant Tecno started working together when Devecto developed the display software for their E-series electric loaders. This working relationship deepened when Avant switched to using Bosch-Rexroth’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) in its 700 and 800 series.
Having been an award-winning integration partner for Bosch Rexroth, Devecto were the natural choice for developing Avant’s display software. Software development began in early 2019. At this point, it was expected that shifting to an Electronic Control Unit would mean that product development would have to happen quickly, and so testing would be all the more important.
In the autumn of 2019, it was decided that Hardware-in-the-loop simulation and testing would be needed (HIL), and by the end of the same year both the software and testing device were ready for use.
What is Hardware-in-the-loop and what is it needed for?
Hardware-in-the-loop offers a virtual environment for testing electronic control units. In practice, this means a device the size of a distribution board, inside which there is the ECU, the most important electronic valves of the machine and a computer (in this case an embedded Beckhoff PC), which together are used to simulate the engine, actuators, driveline system, and sensors.
This makes swift and effective regression testing possible for a device and its software.
“Using only field testing on ECUs and their software is slow and difficult, and it’s not very environmentally sound” notes Antero Salojärvi, a development engineer of Avant Tecno. “With the increasing pace of product development, investing in HIL will pay for itself very quickly”.
What did we do for Avant and how does HIL work?
For Avant, making the move to ECUs was a big change. Once software development became part of the job, a process needed to be created that would allow for it to be constantly tested and developed.
This process has three parts:
- Lifecycle management of the software, ensuring traceability in all product development
- Software development
- Continuous automatic testing, carried out through the HIL system
“With the Avant device, the first thing we needed to develop and test for, was that Stage V emission directives were met” Salojärvi recounts. “After this, we took on developing and testing features such as immobilisation, due to ever-increasing requirements of safety.”
In the future, more and more of the hydraulics in Avant devices will be controlled by ECU and all software-related product development will follow a clearly defined process.
“We have many ideas on how to increase the functionality and level of automation via ECU, and I look forward to working on those” notes Salojärvi. “In the future, thanks to this process, product development will take less time, yet still remain fully controllable.”
Long-term cooperation with Devecto
Devecto were initially chosen to develop ECUs with Avant because of their partnership with Bosch Rexroth. As the software development went well, it was only natural that Devecto would then build the HIL system for them. Devecto had already built several HIL systems before, as they are usually an intrinsic part of model-based software design, which is something Devecto specialise in. The test unit took only three months to build.
“The ECU software and HIL unit were essentially ready by the end of 2019, although, of course, development didn’t stop there” Salojärvi concludes. “As part of the software development process, these are an excellent basis for a long-lasting partnership with Devecto in future software development”.