Combining software with system architecture and hardware development

 

The complexity of high-tech systems has increased enormously over the last few decades. OEMs - for example in the semiconductor, analytical and digital printing industries - create machines that not rarely operate on the edge of physical possibilities. The typical hardware oriented disciplines such as system architecting, mechatronics, mechanical- , electrical- and machine conditioning and engineering are complemented by software to design for maximum machine performance. Already for several years, NTS develops software in parallel with hardware to achieve optimal customer solutions with short project lead times.

NTS has during the past 15 years developed, applied and enhanced a full software stack to operate high-tech systems. We have used this experience to develop and industrialize a set of highly re-usable software building blocks. These blocks have functions like embedded (motion) control, vision libraries for droplet control in printers and multiple metrology applications, extensive system diagnostic, Graphical User Interface, and connectivity with the external world of the equipment. Last but not least, the software collects a configurable set of machine data both serving the system test activities when developing the machine as well as when being manufactured and tested at NTS or when in use at customer. These datasets are enablers for Industry 4.0 applications like predictive maintenance and connected supply chains.

 

"As your partner, NTS combines software with system architecture, mechatronics, mechanical- and electrical engineering and machine conditioning."

- Nico Meijerman, Manager Machine Control group



What do we offer?

NTS provides system solutions consisting of hardware and software that meet your specific required mix of time to market, cost and performance criteria. More and more aspects of the machine performance are realized in software.

NTS customer solutions are targeted to your application and business case. This is achieved by:

  • Balancing the needs on accuracy, throughput and other system specifications via trade-offs between hardware and software implementations of specific machine functions.
  • Offering a portfolio of software building blocks including interfaces to 3rd party software enabling a shorter time to market.
  • Our software runs on commoditized hardware platforms enabling easy integration with 3rd party software vendors as well as the software from our customer.

What can you expect?

  • Software architects and -designers fully integrated in multidisciplinary and co-located design teams for high tech systems.
  • Due to the re-use of existing building blocks, the machine software is being created in parallel with the hardware design, enabling faster time to market at lower costs.
  • Due to the re-use of existing software building blocks which provide functionalities like Graphical User Interfaces and diagnostics & tracing which are available already during prototyping phase, there is hardly any need  to develop temporary software scripts for test- and integration activities.
  • In project execution we use our in-house developed advanced engineering tool called NTS Machine Development Studio. This enables us to combine the various building blocks into virtual systems, and run, test and analyze the system without the hardware being available yet. In this way we create the software part of a Digital Twin enabling to assess future system configurations and identify and eliminate potential bottlenecks in the early phases of the development project together with our customers.

Machine control software for high-tech systems

Developing a successful high-tech system asks for a sound mechanical and electronical design in the first place, since you are always bound to the laws of physics. However, machine control software does contribute in pushing the limits of speed, functionality, uptime and accuracy.

Embedded software tooling & software building blocks

We developed software tooling ourselves, called NTS Machine Development Studio, to create a virtual software architecture of building blocks and subsequently run, test and analyze system configurations to come up with the optimal embedded software design. This allow us to re-use proven technology.

Motion control software & manufacturability

Our track record in other development and manufacturing disciplines, like mechatronics, optics, physics, materials, dynamics, thermal effects and electronics, allows us to translate the needs of our customers into a comprehensive system and software architecture. This helps to create maximum added value for our customers. Our embedded software approach allows for high development speed, actual performance, functionality, flexibility and robustness of the module or system. It also includes connectivity and preventive maintenance, related to industry 4.0 trends.

Meet our machine control software architects Jurgen and Laurens

‘Our customers continually push technological innovation within new business models. Short development times, cost efficiency and quality are crucial to their competitive strength. As machine control software developers at NTS we contribute to their success in various ways, first of all through our ability to rapidly set up a conceptual system design within an integrated multidisciplinary approach and then realize it in a short amount of time.'

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