It is quite difficult to name valuable reference projects when working under NDAs or being employed. However, there are a few that I can list here.
Extending Character Set
The company BKW (Bernische Kraftwerke AG) needed french character sets for the electric plans.
The manufacturer of the large format machine (Benson Graphics) was unable to fulfill that requirement. BKW then turned to the Swiss subsidiary and they contacted me. There was no documentation and no help in any other form. Reverse engineering and extensive data analysis were the keys to success. An emulator to partially simulate the machine's logic was used for the development because the real machine was constantly in use.
Even though the goals could be reached, it's nothing to enter a hall of fame. The immense effort was in no relation to the value.
Packaging Machines: New Conveyor Logic
Lamb Europe was a company that mainly handled the packaging of paper rolls.
Paper rolls? Yes! Up to two meters in diameter, up to five meters width, up to 14 tons.
Among all other start-up works for the whole plant, includig ABB robots, hydraulic transporters and stoppers, paper feeders and lid transports, there was a problem to be solved that paper rolls could get removed at any moment during the transport on the floor conveyors. The re-identification before reentering the next part of the plant would have been too expensive. The solution that was implemented was a virtual transport of the rolls inside the Siemens S5 software. Depending on the conveyor's speed, a moving pattern was generated by a simple light barrier at the beginning and end of the conveyer. This was sufficient to reindentify the rolls, allowed movements in both directions and was fails-safe and insensitive to the loss of rolls.
One highlight is the analysis core that is part of firmware and PC analysis software. It is able to analyze recorded data using scenarios with the complex law as basis.
Automated order injecter for TRANSAG (today Scheoni Transport)
TRANSFLOW couldn't handle mailed jobs from customers
The software TRANSFLOW in use at TRANSAG was unable to handle orders that customers would send in to be executed by the company. The solution should be convenient and shouldn't leave much room for mistakes.
The program that the clients used was Winware which is able to send orders directly by mail as PDF.
The program was in use until Schoeni replaced TRANSFLOW by a new software. To my knowledge, they restarted this part of TRANSFLOW later because the new program is not able to handle mailed jobs from customers ...
APS system's TS200
Old top range annunciator system with major software flaws
1. The cleaning-up and the partial redesign of the firmware to support additional features for remote management and some bugfixes. The problem: almost no documentation and nobody to ask.
2. The complete remake of the programming software because the old version didn't work on Windows NT/2000/XP. The new software is based on a web server, enabling remote programming.
APS system's TS400
New top range annunciator system - from scratch
It is not the nature of a full-blown OS like Linux to be easy to use in a company's existing network nor is it relly inteded to be used stand-alone at the same time. The setup work took a long time. Likewise, it is a challange to find the 'right' tools among the sheer uncountable amount of available software.
Besides this, the requirements and expectations that the whole as a system has to satisfy are countless and vary with each new installation. It was clear from the beginning that there would never be a 'standard' setup, but the system always has to behave as if. Open sourced, open featured, simple to setup and use.
One thing that shows a little of the philosophy behind the system is the firmware of the WAGO nodes. In general when the system is up and running, all alert messages could be handled by the central CPU. Since we may be working on a 'foreign' network of any extent, the communication may break at any moment. The software on the node has to behave cooperatively if the system is up and healthy and autonomically at the same moment if the connection to the rest of the system gets lost. All steering functions are handled by the node itself but all configuration and superordinated functions are handled by the central CPU. As consequence, an alert cannot be handled by a node alone, nor by the CPU alone. If one of them needs to act autonomically, they have to work out a common denominator as soon as the link is back, which may be after hours of separation.
All this is and shall be invisible to the client and even the technical personnel.