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Automation, artificial intelligence, and autonomization: The digital construction site of tomorrow has many facets and does not leave even the smallest components of mobile machines - the electronics - unscathed. Assistance systems like Liebherr’s LiXplore® Bird’s Eye surround view system ensure more efficiency and comfort on the construction site.
The Components team at Liebherr-Electronics and Drives GmbH in Lindau (Germany) has been producing digital Ethernet cameras for mobile machines for more than ten years and is currently in its third product generation. Therefore, Liebherr’s in-depth expertise in this field is no coincidence. The product development process integrates feedback from long-standing customers to continuously refine product features based on these insights. “For our customers, maintaining safe operations and preventing accidents at jobsites are a top priority”, says Alexander Bertsch, responsible for sensor technology at Liebherr-Electronics and Drives GmbH. “They are aware of the impact of operating equipment under challenging conditions and place significant importance, when choosing the right equipment with assistance systems specifically designed to keep operators and operations safe.” That is why product development and innovation are an integral part of Liebherr’s culture, and the engineers think creatively to solve different challenges in their best interest.
A major plus for customers is that Liebherr understands the strict requirements under which their machines are used, including strong temperature differences, vibrations and changing light conditions. “We use this knowledge to develop our products according to the demands placed on them in terms of robustness”, explains Bertsch. “This experience has helped us to develop the LiXplore® Bird’s Eye surround view system.” At its core, a digital camera-monitor system provides operators with a reliable all-around view of the working environment of their machine. The intelligent algorithm behind the display controller creates the 360° view by combining the individual images from four digital cameras into a complete picture.
The sharper the image, the better, making it easier and more pleasant for the operators to view. On top of that, operators deal with the complexities of operating the machine, so using a system that makes work easier for humans is the clear choice. Fewer errors equal lower costs and more efficiency, making it a win-win situation for both operators and machine manufacturers. It has also been shown that the calibration process in particular poses major challenges for customers. If a machine manufacturer equips five machines with a surround view system, the calibration effort is still limited. However, when talking about several hundred machines, things look very different. “Therefore, we wanted to develop a time-saving system that can be calibrated within a few minutes,” explains Bertsch. “This means that neither the calibration mats do not have to be placed exactly, nor do the distances to other objects have to be measured. Furthermore, LiXplore® Bird’s Eye offers detailed views and customizable overlays for greater convenience.”
The features of the assistance system are the result of the extensive experience gained over the years with mobile machines in a wide range of industries – an off the shelf product, excellently suited for use in demanding environments. Due to Liebherr’s proximity to customers, design engineers know the requirements for the components very well, use this expertise to further develop products and continue offering the greatest possible benefits.
As in most other areas of life, digitalization will play a major role in the future. Digital image processing will soon find its way into even more simple camera-monitor systems. Instead of several individual components that have to be linked, customers receive an integral solution with an additional assistance function that is already state-of-the-art. “In the course of developing Bird’s Eye, we kept asking ourselves the following questions: How can we achieve the greatest possible benefit for our customers? Which technologies, that have proven successful in other industries, offer enough potential for mobile machines?”, says Bertsch. “One example is collision warning, which is already being used in the automotive industry.”
Today’s systems still cover these extended assistance functions via additional sensors. With digital technology, intelligent algorithms take over this task. It is a leaner system overall that reduces sources of error and takes comprehensive account of processes on the construction site. Moreover, there is the additional convenience for the operators. An interface that displays all essential functions in one is far easier and more intuitive to operate.