Innovative design with miniaturized precision sensors
Lecturers surprised by their students' system design
Sensor sponsorship and personal support thanks to self-initiative
The ball motion is controlled by Andri Birrer via laptop. On a moving plate, the rolling ball is performing circles and lines or stops in the center. Mission accomplished: The three students of systems engineering at the ABB Technical School in Baden/Switzerland, Andri Birrer, Kim Meyer and Roland Müller, successfully solved the "Ball on Plate" task of their term paper - and presented an unconventional and innovative design.
Right from the beginning, Andri, Kim and Roland were convinced of their unusual solution. Their lecturers, on the other hand, weren't: "That never will work," the three were told repeatedly. Andri, Kim and Roland were the only team that refrained from mechanical rodding for power transmission on the plate but used steering racks instead. Using stepper motors as drive was a school-defined prerequisite. "The motors were expected to move three thin racks up and down in linear directions, that was our idea," explains project manager Andri during the demonstration at the Baumer headquarters in Frauenfeld.
The skepticism shown by their lecturers encouraged and motivated the trio even further. Roland elaborated on the mechanical concept, Kim on the electrical one, and Andri took over process control. Centerpiece of the system is a tripod with three motor-driven racks. Here, the plate is attached to. The touch surface detects the ball position and provides feedback to the controller. Each electric motors connected to the racks is steered in a way making the ball moving as required. A major challenge was the extremely compact system design, which only allows miniature components. "That's how we came to Baumer. We needed high-quality sensors consuming the least possible space to determine the min and max reference positions of the racks", reports Andri. The reference positions are key for precision control.
The team's inquiry at Baumer paid off. The sensor expert in Frauenfeld supported the project in their usual straightforward way and sponsored the compact, high-precision inductive sensors that are a core competence of Baumer. The young talents were particularly happy about the personal support experienced by their Baumer contact person.
The precision miniature sensors combined with the Baumer support gave a big boost to their project. Other teams that had purchased inexpensive but inaccurate sensors had to spend a lot of setup and engineering time until their sensors worked as required.
Andri, Kim and Roland also took the project demonstration at Baumer headquarters in Frauenfeld as an opportunity to take a closer look at product development and manufacturing. R&D Team Leader Mathias Schwendimann and Dominik Unger, Manager Digital Business Development, showed them much more than how here inductive sensors are crafted by hand. The system engineers to be had a pretty big bunch of questions to the people in semiconductor development, also an integral part of the 750-employee Baumer headquarter at Frauenfeld. "I would never have thought that so many components are developed and made directly at Baumer", Andri said after the tour.
Earlier, they had been introduced to Christoph Suter being the HR Manager for Switzerland who presented them career opportunities for engineers, scientists and technicians at Baumer. "Our locations hold a high level of vertical integration. That is why we offer exciting tasks in many different sections: R&D, manufacture and industrial engineering. And further also in sales, product management and marketing," enumerated Christoph Suter. Baumer is always looking for motivated newcomers with fresh ideas. "Maybe we'll see each other again soon. You have my business card."
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Perfect realization of an unconventional idea, also with the help of the high-precision miniature sensors from Baumer: The three students from ABB Technical School at Baden, Andri Birrer, Roland Müller and Kim Meyer (from left) presented their "Ball on Plate" design at the Baumer headquarters in Frauenfeld. Dominik Unger, Manager Digital Business Development at Baumer (right), was happy to see the big success of the sensor sponsorship.
Three directly driven racks move the plate. This works thanks to the very compact inductive Baumer sensors that capture each reference position with high precision.