May 13, 2024

Universal lift kit and slide kit integration platform for all robot manufacturers

Why it is smart to start investing in the stock market?

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Should I be a trader to invest in the stock market?

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What app should I use to invest in the stock market?

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Is it risky to invest in the stock market? If so, how much?

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Tell us if you are already investing in the stock market

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Ewellix is the leading global manufacturer and supplier of linear motion solutions, which incorporate state-of-the-art designs, components and digital technology. The company has more than 1250 employees and 6 manufacturing units in Europe, Asia, and North America. Ewellix produces Linear motion and Actuation solutions used in industrial automation, medical applications, and mobile machinery. The company is a part of the Schaeffler Group, a leading global supplier to the automotive and industrial sectors.


Ewellix produces modern linear actuators that have broad applications in today's industry. For example, one typical application is to widen the operating range of the collaborative robotic arm.

If the application demands a robot to operate across a wide working range, a larger robotic arm can be employed to meet this requirement, albeit at a higher cost. In some cases, even the bigger robot arms are not enough, so expansion with an additional 7th linear axis is necessary.  

With SLIDEKIT and LIFTKIT, Ewellix is giving its clients an option to extend the operating range of robotic arms without having to buy a bigger robot, or additional robots.  

SLIDEKIT and LIFTKIT are linear actuators that are used to extend the horizontal operating range of the robot and the vertical operating range of the robot, respectively.

Ewellix needed an additional software solution that would allow cobot manufacturers to use their LIFTKITS and SLIDEKITS easily. The solution was an integration platform designed in a way that the 7th axis would be fully integrated into native cobot programming and simulating environment, so operators and engineers who are already familiar with the manufacturer's environment do not need to be trained to operate/program the 7th axis.

This is where our collaboration started.  

The solution was required to satisfy two technical requirements:

  • seamless integration with native cobot environment
  • modular design to support a wide range of actuators and cobots  

Besides the two main technical requirements, we also had three main business requirements. These were:

  • Keep track of the budget and be cost-effective
  • Minimize time to market – have a stable MVP as soon as possible
  • Have high quality and control over quality  

We had to plan the solution and all project activities with these five main requirements in mind.  


Universal Robot Project

The first collaboration between Ewellix and Enlight Engineering started with a project during which we had to integrate SLIDEKIT with Universal Robots based on a previous solution for LIFTKIT which Ewellix already created.  

Based on the experience gained through integration with Universal Robots, Ewellix initiated the project for creating a universal platform for integration with the robot from any manufacturer.  

That is how a Universal Integration Platform project came to life.

Universal Integration Platform

The Universal Integration Platform was going to be a universal LIFTKIT and SLIDEKIT integration platform. This platform would be compatible with all collaborative robotic arms, regardless of the manufacturer. It would allow Ewellix’s clients to manage LIFTKITS and SLIDEKITS for any kind of collaborative robotic arm.

Ewellix defined the initial set of commands, then as the solution was being developed, we worked together with Ewellix to further revise, expand, and optimize the command set. Finally, the resulting command set covers all the relevant movement and functional safety functionalities required by the industry applications.

This means that any cobot manufacturer can use the set of commands exported by the Universal Integration Platform to get 7th axis fully integrated into native cobot programming and simulating environment.

Process based on Requirements Management and Acceptance test-driven development

First, let’s take into account business priorities:

  • Keep track of the budget and be cost-effective
  • Minimize time to market – have a stable MVP as soon as possible
  • Have high quality and control over quality

The answer to these business requirements was a proposal to base the development of the solution on ATDD (Acceptance test-driven development). The process itself consisted of the following units:

  1. Analysis of real-world scenarios and precise definition of the MVP requirements
  1. Defining test scenarios for all requirements to guarantee the fulfilment of acceptance criteria
  1. Process automation through the CI pipeline - build, deployment, testing, reporting etc.  
  1. Focus on the development and implementation of requirement cases

In addition to the above, the modular design of the software solution played an important role in this process. There are several reasons why modularity is important:

  • easy testing on all three levels of the test pyramid: e2e, integration and unit tests
  • the flexibility of the solution, which enables easy platform upgrades, the use of different protocols for easier integration with different models of actuators and cobots.

Why did we organize software development in this way?

The goal was to satisfy the main technical and business requirements.  

The described Way of Work and process exhibit the following key characteristics that benefit business priorities:

  • Alignment of all stakeholders, enabling efficient cooperation.
  • Tracking of requirements throughout the entire software development lifecycle, providing a clear view of the project's status and progress.
  • Impact analysis, revealing how requirement changes affect the project's scope and schedule.
  • Reduction of requirements churn, minimizing unnecessary changes to project requirements.
  • Validation of compliance requirements for software solutions that must meet industry standards or regulations.
  • Minimization of the risk of releasing a defective product to the market.
  • Prevention of costly defects in software for industrial devices, which cannot be easily updated and may require product withdrawal if defects are discovered later.
  • Acceleration of Time-to-Market through continuous test case execution and continuous integration, facilitating early defect detection and reducing product integration time.
  • Reduction of business costs by initially investing in an automated testing environment, leading to decreased testing time and a reduced need for test engineers over time.
  • Enhancing product flexibility and variety by designing a modular product that allows for easy customization and multiple variants. Integration testing ensures error-free product combinations, and an automated testing system is essential for reliable and efficient integration testing.


Technologies used

The following technologies were used:

  • Atlassian tools: Bitbucket for code management and CI/CD automation, Jira for task tracking, RTM tool for requirements and test management, and Confluence for documentation storage.
  • Python was the chosen programming language, and the project adhered to CAN, CANopen, and TCP/IP protocols.

Words from our client

The collaboration with Enlight enabled us to create the #1 range extender offer for collaborative robots in the market. Their insight into agile software development, continuous integration testing and customer value driven innovation has been very impressive. It is great fun to work with such a highly motivated team that continuously pushes the limits and delivers value beyond your expectation.

Marcel Soltermann
Group Director - Product Development
About the author
As a COO, Petko is the key executive ensuring efficient and smooth business processes.
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