Thursday, August 28, 2014

Innovative solution for calibration tasks that require automated high speed ECU access



Sometimes there are calibration tasks that require an innovative solution.  For example, a calibration engineer was tasked with the responsibility of calibrating the vehicle “lift foot” logic on an Engine ECU.  The calibration process required that a sequence of calibration commands be sent to the “lift foot” logic in the ECU software within 10ms of measuring that a “kick down” event has occurred in the vehicle.  The calibrator created a test script in Matlab and used the INCA-MIP (Matlab Integration Package) to automate INCA for this task.  The problem is that INCA-MIP uses the COM API interface to INCA and COM API is limited to 100ms access times. Therefore, it was not possible to send calibration commands within 10ms of measuring the “kick down” event using Matlab/COM API.

The solution proposed by ETAS was to use INCA-FLOW and INCA-MCE together.  INCA-FLOW enables the automation of vehicle calibration tasks with a powerful yet easy-to-use graphical scripting interface.  INCA-MCE (Measurement Calibration Embedded) software with the ETAS ES910 hardware provides “fast ECU access” capability for rapid ECU calibration turn-around times and high speed measurement throughput.  With the latest release of INCA-FLOW v3.1, it is now possible to use these two powerful solutions together.  

The ES910 hardware, which is required to run the INCA-MCE “fast ECU access” connection between INCA-FLOW and the ECU, was installed in the vehicle.  The calibrator then used INCA-FLOW to create the calibration process.  For the calibration variables that needed be modified very fast (e.g. within 10ms), the calibrator added them to the MCE list as shown below.

Figure 1.  Screen shot of INCA-FLOW calibration variable selection



INCA-FLOW with INCA-MCE enabled the calibrator to create and run automated optimization routines that could successfully calibrate the Engine ECU “lift foot” logic within 10ms of measuring the “kick down” event in the vehicle.  This innovative solution will open the door to many other calibration tasks that require automated high speed ECU access.

Figure 2.  INCA-FLOW and INCA-MCE setup in the vehicle


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Easily and quickly automate vehicle calibration tasks – no scripting expertise required!



In vehicle calibration is becoming more and more complex and time consuming.  Calibration groups are tasked with calibrating more complex ECU software and an increasing number of variants with limited resources and time to complete the tasks.  One way that calibration groups are working to improve their efficiency and overall quality of software calibration is by automating calibration and validation tasks as much as possible.  Many ETAS customers have created Matlab scripts to automate INCA using the ETAS INCA-MIP (Matlab Integration Package) interface.  This requires Matlab scripting expertise.  Most calibrators do not know Matlab well enough to create Matlab scripts or to even modify existing scripts to meet their needs.  Some calibration groups have had to hire scripting experts, but they may not have the calibration experience necessary to create the calibration scripts.

A Better Way….

This challenge has led to the growing popularity of ETAS INCA-FLOW within many calibration departments at various OEM’s and Tier 1’s.  INCA-FLOW enables the automation of vehicle calibration tasks with a powerful yet easy-to-use graphical scripting interface.  Since it does not require scripting expertise, calibrators can easily and quickly create automation tests with INCA.  The graphical modeling interface of INCA-FLOW allows users to drag method blocks into the graphical space, connect the blocks, then compile the script into an executable and run with INCA.  There is a large library of method blocks in INCA-FLOW that contains simple base method blocks and more advanced method blocks for calibration optimization and analysis.


Figure 1:  ETAS INCA-FLOW graphical scripting interface

There are many benefits with INCA-FLOW.  It is not only easy to use for any calibrator; it is also flexible for the calibrator to modify existing INCA-FLOW test scripts as needed.  INCA-FLOW helps less experienced calibrators learn and understand the calibration process by viewing the block diagrams in the graphical interface.  INCA-FLOW enables calibration and validation test departments to establish global best-practices with identical and repeatable results.

INCA-FLOW has been successfully utilized many different use cases.  Tests that are required to be repeated on every software release or program variant are prime examples of using INCA-FLOW.  In many of these cases, the calibration expert creates the INCA-FLOW script and then distributes the compiled script to calibration groups, vehicle drivers, or test cell operators.  The latest release of INCA-FLOW v3.1 contains method blocks for the read/write of Excel.  This has enabled validation groups to create diagnostic test scripts that read values from existing Excel files and write the results of the diagnostic test back to the Excel file.  Many calibrators have also created calibration processes in INCA-FLOW that automatically optimizes calibrations of specific ECU functions (e.g. low-idle speed control, optimization for variable cam shaft, misfire detection, and shift quality).  

For more information on INCA-FLOW, please refer to the following link: