WEBER Steuerungstechnik GmbH is a supplier for Lift Manufacturers. Main products of WEBER are lift controls and electrical equipment for all kinds of lifts as well as OEM control sub-units for mostly non-German clients who intend to build own lift controls.
These control systems contain a large variety of electronic sub-units including computer components for control purposes. State of the art semiconductor devices are only available in SMT technology these days. WEBER has been able to design and to manufacture PCB components in conventional wired technologies.
The existing product is designed in conventional PCB technology: 2-layer layout, low clock rate because of physical dimension of components, 8 bit microcontroller, memory size limit 1 Mbytes, two independent CAN controllers. The new SMT design uses 4-layer layout, high clock rate because of multilayer design and compact structure, 32 bit microcontroller, memory size limit 16 Mbytes, four independent galvanic isolated CAN controllers:
The benefits of this product are significant:
- Full compatibility to all versions of hardware as well as software delivered so far in 16-Bit-Mode without hardware protection of memory size areas
- Extension of memory size from 1 MB to 16 MB allows addition of more functions.
- Faster controller device allows more time critical applications to be added to software. - Cycle rate is now 33 MHz instead of 8 MHz. Together with use of faster 32-Bit-Code and 386 structure instead of 8086 structure and physical 16-Bit-Bus instead of 8-Bit-Bus increases performance by more than factor 5.
- Reduction of power consumption because of higher degree of integration.
- Relation of costs and performance far better than with original product.
- SMT controller is able to execute 32-bit code in protected mode - 32-Bit-Mode which allows the design of reliable encapsulated software modules - pre-condition for large software projects with a number of programmers involved
Main lesson learnt is that support by external specialists both for technology and external controlling of work progress is extremely helpful. The reason seems to be that part of the staff does not understand the need to quickly change a successful product and replace a successful technology. Technical benefits are the enhanced performance and reduction of size. The size reduction is a crucial prerequisite for Webers new room-less control concept, where, unlike common lifts with dedicated control rooms or cabinets, the new control system is small enough to be integrated into the lift.
The project had a duration of 11 months with costs of 34,500 ECU. The payback period is estimated to be in a range of three years. The return on investment (ROI), just taking this one product into account, is estimated to 200%. But the most important benefit is that Weber is now able to judge, plan, and run projects using this new technology. The results may be of interest for companies that are producing electric equipment for safety critical applications.