Using Haptics In An Industrial Controller - Crane Controller
Controlling large industrial equipment, particularly those that need accurate placement, can be difficult using a remote control. Part of the reason is that the equipment can be too large or complex for the operator to easily see everything they need to. Not only is positioning important, but there is a range of dangers present with large machinery. A sensor can be installed for detecting overloading, proximity warnings, etc., but using LEDs or sounds can be distracting for the user.
Whether the operator is located inside the machine (e.g. construction vehicles) or remotely (e.g. crane controller example below) haptic force feedback can help convey information directly to the user through the control panel, leaving them to concentrate on the task in hand.
Early examples of vibrotactile feedback can be found in gaming controllers, historically referred to as ‘force feedback’. Joysticks, car wheels, aeroplane yokes, and gamepads all used haptics to either add to the in-game experience or convey information to the gamer.
These game controllers are based on real-life input systems for vehicles and machines. Adding a vibration motor and driver can enable some of the same benefits, except instead of making a game more fun they improve worker productivity and the aid product/worksite safety.
Many of these input components, like the joystick in the crane controller example, benefit from good mechanical isolation so the entire mass of the unit doesn’t affect the vibration strength of the motor. The advanced vibration patterns available through haptic force feedback help the crane operator understand positioning through varied vibration amplitude and frequency, similar to the audible beeps in car parking sensors. They can also serve as early warning systems through intense vibration strength.
With haptic force feedback directly into the operator’s hand, they now are able to process information whilst continuing to look at what they’re focusing on. Improving your products through the addition of new features demonstrates your company has the technical expertise to stand above your competitors.
For help in positioning the vibration motor to maximise the effect of the vibration, we have a series of Application Bulletins that cover mechanical mounting. We also have a larger guide to haptic feedback for more information or contact us with any questions.