A clean solution: That’s how Aaronn Electronic supports GriPS Automation with self-service car washes

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GriPS Automation develops, plans and creates software and products for a wide range of automation areas on behalf of customers. GriPS relies on Aaronn Electronic, a distributor and system integrator, as its hardware partner for both the construction of customised machines and series production.


GriPS Automation has been ordering from Aaronn Electronic for almost ten years now. "We are two companies on an equal footing and have undergone a similar development in recent years," explains Guido Grimberg, founder and Managing Director of GriPS Automation. "We come from the software corner, Aaronn from the hardware area. At the intersection, where customised solutions with high added value are created, we complement each other perfectly."

Image: Guido Grimberg, Managing Director of GriPS Automation

The geographical closeness between Oberhaching and Puchheim, which are both located in the greater Munich area, is a pleasant side effect for GriPS that makes many things easier. What is much more important, however, is that the companies are similar in nature: “We both have short decision-making paths and operate at the same level,” reports Grimberg. “For me, this is a key component when selecting our business partners. I want to be in the comfort zone with my partners. I don’t need strenuous relationships,” the company boss emphasises.

"We can now look back on almost ten years of a business relationship with Aaronn that has always been objective, fair and based on partnership," recalls Grimberg. Alexander Squarra, Key Account Manager at Aaronn Electronic, agrees. "GriPS Automation has high expectations of itself, its products and the satisfaction of its customers. In order to fulfil them, they challenge us again and again. But that's a good thing."

Image: Alexander Squarra, Key Account Manager at Aaronn Electronic GmbH

Support for special machines and series production

GriPS Automation has two main pillars. One is special machine construction with development and production for very specific automation requirements. These applications are only realised only a few times with identical hardware and software. The focus here is on the software and the know-how, expertise and understanding of the engineers at GriPS Automation for the individual requirements of customers.

Examples of this include a blast freezing system for food that makes the production of frozen goods economical even for small bakeries. Another example is a system for the almost completely automated inspection and storage of solar modules from an Austrian manufacturer, which are sorted according to the performance class determined.

Application example: Self-service car washes

Another important pillar for GriPS is equipping self-service car washes with an online automation system. GriPS recognised the signs of the times early on and opted for open platforms in the IoT and Industry 4.0 sector. As a result, a software platform is already available that can fulfil the requirements of both operators and end customers, from machine control, operation and analysis to the online payment system.

It is used in the systems of the established supplier Nilfisk. Depending on the version, these offer up to four or up to nine washing stations. They are each operated via an intelligent, online-capable control system with an easy-to-understand touch display. The automation solution from GriPS Automation is based on the Advantech MIO-2360 board.

The business of the Nilfisk Carwash division will be transferred to wwb Carwash GmbH &Co KG in January 2021. GriPS Automation has already entered into a new, close system partnership with the new company. This ensures that the proven technology will be continued.

Balance between new trends and needs

In this area, very similar requirements come into play as in special machine construction for the hardware – and therefore also for the partner from whom the hardware is purchased. “On the one hand, long-term availability and compatibility are important to us. On the other hand, we always want to be up-to-date with the latest hardware in series production and pick up on new trends promptly,” reports Grimberg. “After all, the customer’s satisfaction is our top priority. This also includes showing them how they can benefit from new developments in their business. In the areas of IoT and Industry 4.0, we want to score points in this respect with our own software. To do this, however, we need a partner like Aaronn Electronic, who keeps an ear to the market for us when it comes to hardware and critically scrutinises new developments at all times,” explains Grimberg.

Since innovation here must be both targeted and purposeful, as the price-performance ratio also plays an important role. “In series production, the customer sets the price framework, in return for which they expect certain services. It is important to balance exactly which is necessary for a future-oriented solution and which can be dropped,” explains Grimberg.

Apparently the easiest way is to use the best possible board and the most powerful components possible, but this does not lead to success. Instead, the trick is to select the right combination.

Advantech MIO-2360 at the heart of the self-service car wash


Image: After extensive tests and trials with different CPU variants, GriPS Automation has been relying on the SBC Advantech MIO-2360 for its online system for self-service car washes since 2018

In the case of the carwash application, the size of the embedded PC also played a role, for example, as it has to fit on the rear panel of a display. In addition, the display control requires a special adaptation of the cables. That also needed to be taken into account. After a lot of testing and intensive coordination, GriPS initially opted for the Advantech MIO-2261 board, but has been using the Advantech MIO-2360 board since 2018.

For use in the car wash control system, the available development tools, screen access, digital IO options and reliability are very important. This is a modern and future-oriented control and visualisation product that can provide data from the machine to the end user virtually in real time.

The Advantech MIO-2360 single board PC fulfils the requirements for a compact design with its Pico-ITX format. Thanks to the dual display support (24-bit LVDS+VGA and HDMI), suitable screen access can be ensured. The MIO-2360 is well equipped with two integrated USB 2.0 ports and two serial interfaces (RS-232/422/485), an 8-bit general purpose input/output (GPIO) and an SMBus. There is also VGA, optional HDMI 1, two USB 3.0 ports and a power supply on the rear. The processors that can be used are models from the Intel Pentium N4200/Celeron, N3350/ Atom E3900 series.

Support for the generation change

“Aaronn had informed us in good time when the MIO-2261 was discontinued. For example, it was important for us to know whether and for how long it would still be in stock and whether it would be compatible with a successor. All of this can only be clarified when you have the right partner with the appropriate expertise for the manufacturer at hand,” says Grimberg, describing how Aaronn addressed its concerns in this situation. Not only that, the potential successor was extensively tested with several CPU variants before deployment.

Grimberg also appreciates the fact that Aaronn can supply a complete bundle as a one-stop shop with the computers arriving at his company in a pre-configured state. Aaronn uses the right DDR4 memory, selects the right SSD and installs the customer-specific image which was created in a close collaboration with GriPS, in this case Windows 10 IoT. “Before delivery, we also run a thorough and comprehensive test on each board,” emphasises Aaronn manager Alexander Squarra.

GriPS has concluded a framework agreement with Aaronn for the boards. They are called off in agreed batches as required. Not all of them will later control a car wash. “With the support of Aaronn, we deliberately opted for an SBC that fulfils exactly the requirements for its main purpose, but can also be used flexibly for other purposes,” emphasises Grimberg. As a result, one or two special machines built by GriPS now also benefit from the extensive tests and inspections that preceded the decision in favour of the MIO-2360. GriPS therefore has the advantage of only having to keep one spare part in stock.

About GriPS Automation

GriPS Automation was founded in 2009 by Guido Grimberg. The company, based in Oberhaching in the district of Munich, develops, plans and creates software and products tailored to customer requirements for a wide range of automation areas. For many years, the company has stood for outstanding services in the field of software development, project management and planning for industry. It has many long-standing customers who particularly appreciate its high level of flexibility, adherence to deadlines and reliability. One of them once said: “It is important to us that there is GriPS in the solution – in two respects”. According to Managing Director Grimberg, this is the best compliment his company can receive – and one that it strives to earn anew every day. (www.grips-automation.com)

About Advantech

Advantech is committed to “Enable an Intelligent Planet”. The company is a global leader in the field of intelligent IoT systems and embedded platforms. To address the trends of IoT, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, Advantech provides IoT hardware and software solutions with Edge Intelligence WISE-PaaS Core and aims to help business partners and customers connect their industrial chains. Advantech also collaborates with business partners to co-create enterprise ecosystems that accelerate the goal of industrial intelligence. (www.advantech.eu)