Quality for the customer, products for the future
HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH must also plan for the future in order to do justice to its reputation as a market leader in the filling industry sector. For this reason a new development, such as an electronics module, is regarded as an extensive innovative task involving the use of the latest technologies and components in order to create a genuine "product for the future".
A card which has been well-tried for 10 years is to be replaced by a more efficient card. In broad outline this card should memorize and evaluate digital picture information from a camera in control devices. This "graphics card" is therefore one of the most important basic functions of a HEUFT control device. Basic information regarding this card was recorded at many meetings during which its function was given priority.
It was agreed that the choice of components was to be decisive for the quality of the card.
A card with components from the PC sector would not have a long service life due to the fact that these chips are no longer available after approximately 1-2 years. In principle new PCs require new chip sets. The production of the old chip sets is discontinued by the supplier and can no longer by supplied.
However HEUFT needs this time in order to carry out lengthy tests to prove the reliability of the card. Only then is the card passed for use in customer devices.
The card has to fulfil a second important requirement. It should have a service life of at least 10 years in order to avoid redesigns with potential faults.
The third requirement which the card must fulfil is flexibility. It must be able to be adapted to the needs of the future.
This is not possible with components which have a firmly implemented hardware structure.
HEUFT decided in favour of an industrial processor from a world-famous manufacturer after searching a long time and comparing the most varied processors. This processor was a new product, the prototype of which was tested by the HEUFT company.
The processor was connected to a programmable hardware chip supplied by a reputable company in order to achieve the required flexibility and this can rightly be described as a "super chip".
Millions of small individual hardware cells can be connected amongst themselves by means of a special programming language (VHDL) as required.
This makes it possible to operate a card with different configurations for various tasks.
A standard design circuit board was no longer possible with the new, extremely high processor speeds.
High frequencies create interference, when circuit boards have been incorrectly dimensioned, the effects of which can result in uncontrolled faults to the complete system.
HEUFT´s engineers were sent back to school once again. They learnt how to design high-frequency, low-interference circuit boards. The complex structure of an 8 layer multi-layer circuit board must be planned to the smallest detail and discussed with the circuit board manufacturer.
The circuit board:
The optimum placement of the chips is the basis for a trouble-free circuit board. Faults which occur later when the card is assembled can be avoided even at this stage. A carefully considered placement can reduce the lengths of tracks and simplify the actual routing (installing the tracks) considerably.
New component casing was also used for these circuit boards. Almost 400 soldering points are arranged on the lower side of the casing as small balls (BGA, ball grid array). The assembler must be able to master this new technology. The casing promises a minimum fault rate during assembly and operation. With the older type of casing whole batches were faulty during the final HEUFT in-house commissioning despite extensive tests.
After the placement has been carried out up to 2500 individual tracks are installed. The so-called auto router generally carries out this work. However the engineer can also influence the result in this case. Critical tracks are always installed manually. Tracks installed by the router can be optimised by the engineer afterwards.
When the final track has been installed data is generated for the circuit board manufacturer and a prototype series ordered. The programmable chips can be programmed by the engineer at the same time as manufacture. Powerful software tools are available for this which make it possible to simulate the complete circuit board even without the existence of the circuit board.
In the case of the circuit board described the first cards supplied could be used and tested using in-house test systems. They worked straight away.
The interplay of software and hardware is extensively examined during the tests. New requirements often arise which are either taken over in the series layout immediately or at a later stage. The usual HEUFT temperature and voltage tests were carried out afterwards. As expected no problems worth mentioning occurred due to the fact that the temperature and voltage area had already been tested when selecting the components.
Series production could start after all the necessary changes had been made to the layout.
Circuit board manufacturer and assembler could prepare themselves for larger numbers and therefore reproducible results. The first assembled circuit boards were put into service without any problems.
Approximately 25 of these cards were used in the most varied test systems. The software developed in parallel to the circuit board was tested on them.
At the time of the release the first devices were assembled with the new cards. The devices could be delivered to the customers after a final test by the Quality Assurance Department.
2 years have passed since the green light was given. 2 years of meticulous preparations and tests.
2 years with only one aim in mind: to develop a circuit board which on the one hand fulfils the customer´s often demanding tasks and guarantees him a high product quality and on the other hand offers the highest possible degree of reliability.
HEUFT´s success is proof of this. A true highlight for modern electrical engineering has been created by the consistent, purposeful development of the card described above. The new card not only carries out the tasks required of it from all points of view but the well thought-out architecture ensures that it will also fulfil the requirements expected of it in the future.
The aim of this complex HEUFT development has thus been clearly achieved. In accordance with the saying:
quality is when the customer returns and not the product.