Up to now, most electronic control units and software were not tested until they had been installed in the real machine or prototype, which meant that testing took place rather late in the development process. For small and medium-sized manufacturers of mobile machines, this procedure is not just costly and requires a lot of resources, but is also fraught with risks.
As a result, hardware-in-the-loop simulation (HIL) is used, which offers numerous advantages: during testing, the electronic control unit and its software are available as real subsystems, eliminating the need for a real machine. Basic programming errors are detected and eliminated before the machine is actually taken into operation. Meanwhile, machine functions, error detection and diagnosis, as well as operability, undergo extensive testing. The HIL technique provides the basis for creating automated test procedures, which drastically reduce the time, costs and material needed for testing machines.
Preparing a real-time capable simulation model for testing drive and control system functions is costly, time-consuming, and has to be done manually by qualified engineers. These costs block the path to increasing the efficiency of the system development process, preventing efficient test processes from reaching medium-sized manufacturers of construction, municipal and agricultural machines.
ProFAST is a joint research and development project supported by the Sächsische Aufbaubank. The project’s main objective is to develop and implement a new, real-time capable simulation technology to efficiently test electronic control units and software. Using a user-friendly assistance system, complex, non-linear drive system models can be created as, or transformed into, real-time computable models.
This forms the basis for efficiently testing and validating software in real electronic control units. Real-time capable simulation technology therefore plays an important role in producing a highly productive, cost-effective development methodology that can cope with the increasing complexity of modern drive and control systems.