As part of Dr. Stetter ITQ commitment with education and new technologies for Industry 4.0, and considering the big success of our previous “Smart Green Island Makeathon” held in Gran Canaria, we are proud to announce our next major event: February 2017 Makeathon. This time, we have decided to do things a little bit differently. Thus, we will be holding different workshops during the whole event. Some of this workshops are conceived as an introduction to the Makeathon itself, such as the Robotics Workshop, where participants will learn tons of cool stuff for their projects, whereas others are more oriented to current industry professionals.

We would like you to come and experience our next Makeathon. Professionals and students from all disciplines & all semesters are invited!




Done – 1st Hackathon!

First of all, thanks to all the students, members and the big support from ITQ – both with hardware and food.

We are proud to announce, that our first Hackathon was a huge success, and the new students felt very welcome in our team. To give you a short overview, here some figures:

  • 2 days
  • 12 Interested Students
  • 6 Mi5 Members
  • 4 Projects
  • Countless: Ideas, Sensors, Raspberry Pi 2, Lego Mindstorms, …

You can find below a video done by one of the students, Dominik Serve, who did a very professional video cut. Great job!


Mi5.MUC Kick-Off Hackathon!

We want to get to know you!

For our next increment, we would like to invite new students from TUM, HM, HI and other universities to join us on our Kick-Off session.

First time, we will make an Mi5-Hackathon. As a basis for new ideas and developments, we want to use our existing demonstrator. Since it is already a unique platform to understand automation technology, we want to base your brainstorming on the demonstrator.

The Kick-Off will be on two days: Friday and Saturday, May 8th and 9th of 2015.

We divide every day in 3 steps. Friday:

  1. Get to know the demonstrator. Test every function, find bugs, hick-ups and see for yourself, how you could optimize the machine.
  2. Brainstorm and evaluate your ideas. Structure your thoughts and put them on paper. Show them to the other participiants and tell, what you want and can achieve on the one and half day remaining
  3. Find another person, or work on your idea by yourself.


  1. Sprint Review of the previous day. Tell what is your biggest challenge, and where you could need support.
  2. Continue developing and testing
  3. Integrate your solution in the demonstrator

The already existing Mi5-Team will also work on solutions, but will also assist any newcomer with the necessary knowledge of the existing technology.

We are sure, that it will be a great possibility to kickstart your Mi5 experience. Please keep in mind, that there are numerous possibilities, on how you could continue developing your own idea, or become a part of the Mi5 team: Working student, internships, being a part of a research project, funded by the BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (DE) / Ministery for Research and Education of Germany) are just a starting point.

If you want to join, please send us an email on the contact form below, or to me personally: frei@itq.de, or just leave a comment. We will send you the specific times and dates.

We are looking forward to hear from you.

Preparation for Hannover Fair – Tasks

It has been some time, since we gave you some feedback. This is because of the exams, that we all have to write right now. TU Munich is not easy on us, and even though most of us think, that it is way more fun to work on the Mi5-Project, it doesn’t really help – real life I guess.

So we figured, that the increased workload on less shoulders calls for a new way to organize and delegate the different tasks, that are important. Inspired from the load-balancer, that are so common in modern web-development, we implemented our own version of it.
We also wanted to make all the tasks visible, that everybody is doing, because sometimes, responsability grows, and is not really communicated around the team.

Every team member had to write his own tasks on a card, with his color on it. Divided into the categories, technical and other. Technical would be the things that belong to a module or the whole machine. Everything, that is mandatory for a running machine.Other includes for example, PR, website, documentation, communicating with new team members, and more.

We then started to build clusters for a person, so that tasks are delegated to a person, that is already doing something similar. Also, we could define a person, that is mostly responsible for a group of tasks and coordinates all tasks that are related to that group.

The result:
AufgabenMarkusMarkus handles the public relations, but is supported by Kilian and me regarding graphics and other picture material. Besides, he will continue working on the Siemens Teamcenter topic, and be the responsible person for the mechanical manufacturing.








AufgabenOliverOliver will handle and coordinate the tasks that belong to the new OPC UA server. He also coordinates the SVN Repo, and continues with his development of the process tool.





Jonas tasks consist of being responsible for the XTS development, contact with Beckhoff. He also became the buddy of Diego, our newest team member and will help him integrate into our team, and assist with all open questions he might have, regarding Email, SVN, GIT, etc.







AufgabenKilian Kilian will continue working on the simulation. He is responsible for the mover adapter. Besides he is going to help in the PLC programming.









AufgabenThomas I will continue working on the HMI, supported by Björn. The contact to our spanish team is mainly through me. A GIT introduction is to be done by me, and also I am responsible for the two webpages that we maintain, and delegate the writing of the posts.







The team gave a very positive feedback for this kind of task delegation. It was good to visualize what every person is doing, and for what everyone feels responsible. Furthermore it showed, which tasks are done by nobody and that needs to be done. It helped to balance the tasks according to the ability of each person and the time each of us has.

Please comment and leave a reply if you have used a similar approach to solve this problem. We are also happy if you get inspired by this method and leave a reply.

Stand Up Coffee Meeting

Inspired by some new management techniques, we summarized our previous efforts in one final meeting. In a collegial atmosphere, we stood together, drank coffee and cookies (no cocktails today) and mused about worldly issues. To grab our thoughts and put them in a more orderly fashion, we covered the tables with a paper table-cloth and distributed pencils to every table. In this fashion we put down:

  • Things we want to do better in the next step
  • Concrete ideas how to make something better
  • Whatever we could think of, that has something to do with the project.

For example, you can see on the left side an idea that is called FiVe. It gives five points that should be done for every new team member:

  1. Vertrag (eng. contract) – Figure out the details for a new team member regarding his personal contract with ITQ (working student, free team member, etc.)
  2. Vorstellung (eng. introduction) – Introduce the team member to the consultants in ITQ and to the office. Futher to all the Mi5 team members of course
  3. Verteiler (eng. emails) – Make sure, that the new team member gets all information!
  4. Verantwortung (eng. responsibility) – Define what the new team members capabilites and thus responsibilietes are
  5. Vorraussetzung (eng. prerequisites) – What the new team member needs to add to the team: initiative!

There we have also collected information to the following points, that I will sum up here shortly:

  • brainstorming needs to be shorter and at defined points
  • leadership organization according to abilietes
  • email to everybody difficult, often only 50% read and address the emails
  • targets in redmine need to be reachable
  • communication coach for the team
  • weekly meetings: figure out if the whole team needs to hear something or more the module part
  • mentor for new team members is good
  • more open reviews

Below you find our results. It is the same picture flipped by 180 degrees.

This kind of feedback round was widely appreciated. The team liked the cozy atmosphere of drinking coffee in the conference room. We could talk and sum up our efforts and get together for a last time, before everybody had to head back to his studies.

One thing for sure, we will do this again! Next time maybe with cocktails.

HMI Cooperation with TH Ingolstadt

Since June 2014 we are working together with Prof. Grossmann from TH Ingolstadt and his student, to develop an innovative approach for an HMI. For this approach the students use typical elements from Computer games, which can then adapted in an HMI, that is used for real automation processes. At the end of the semester, the students presented their work to the MI5-Team in a big presentation. It followed, a discussion and feedback.

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ITQ GmbH: 48.252077, 11.634312
TH Ingolstadt: 48.767116, 11.431704

Below you can find an example of the report of the investigation of the different game elements. Visible is an so-called inventory view. Something similar could be used to show with what kind of actors or sensors a module is equipped. It could show a picture of a module, status information or more. Typically this is shown at some corner of the screen for an overview, or centralized for more information.

TH Ingolstadt

Inventory Elements from some games. (TH Ingolstadt)

This research was then adapted to some more practical approaches by other students. They made a list as it can be used in production to see a queue or control the process. In the picture below, you can also see a message box, that keeps the user up to date about ongoing events.

List of Events in Production with message box. Source: TH Ingolstadt

List of Events in Production with message box. (TH Ingolstadt)

With this ideas in mind, and some very good approaches, we transformed it into a more practical approach with a tool called Balsamiq. It allows us to use typical desktop elements like lists, tabs, dropdown menus in a sketchy way, so that the idea can be transported easily. Colors and fonts are not yet finalized.

Sketch for HMI. (MI5)

Sketch for HMI. (MI5)

Besides, we looked at possible use cases for the HMI. Therefore we used two different perspectives:

  1. User by skill level
  2. User by perspective

The first ist divided into the groups first-time users, that have no knowledge of the HMI, intermediate users, and expert users. With our approach we will be able to give all of them a good user experience. Next to the skill level we looked at the task of the user, e.g. maintenance operator vs production operator.

It is now July, and since our HMI shall also be portable to any modern device, responsive by design and with an intuitive touch experience, we decided to do it with web-technologies. One prototype can be seen below. It is hard-coded and runs on an Apache server.

HMI Protoype with HTML and JavaScript

HMI Protoype with HTML and JavaScript (MI5)

While developing this proof of concept, and during the following month, September 2014, we investigated technologies for further development.

Node.JS is a JavaScript Interpreter, similar to PHP5 module in Apache server, with the Google V8 Engine, that powers also the popular Google Chrome Browser. With this approach only one programming language is required. There is a big movement to use JavaScript not only for Browser-Coding but also for server-side applications. One of the main features in comparison to a classic webserver is the inherent non-blocking approach, that is perfect for an HMI and a constant socket.io connection.

Further information: http://www.toptal.com/javascript/guide-to-full-stack-javascript-initjs

Socket.io creates a constant connection to a browser, or to any other REST-compatible device. It is then possible to send updates of text field directly from the server to the client. It is even possible to broadcast events, so that multiple clients (HMI screens) are updated simultaneously
Express.js handles the different requests. Due to the event-based architecture of javascript, it is asynchronous and interrupt-free.
Jade serves as a template engine. It delivers easy to read templates for the designers.
Stylus is used to generate CSS code out of JavaScript. It uses a markup language that lets you use variables, that simplify CSS development.



These technologies are then combined to one HMI module (we follow our modular paradigma). This module includes an OPC UA client, and acts as a server for the HMI-web-pages. Doing something so complex like an HMI in a web-page is in our opinion a good approach, since the web-development community is huge, and all technologies used are for free and open source. They are also bullet-proof and exist for production for a long time, just look at a website like Google or Amazon, that practically have no downtime, and run on any browser flawlessly.

Our draft for the system architecture of the HMI looks like this:

System Architecture (MI5)

System Architecture (MI5)

It is now end of September, and the JavaScript client is under heavy development. One of the most complex parts so far, is the investigation of the connection of the node-opcua module to the OPC UA Server. We investigate the compatibility of different OPC UA Servers, for example Beckhoff TwinCAT OPC UA Server or the equivalent from B&R.

As of now, we can say, that the decision for JavaScript looks very good. It looks lean and clean. Since we do not need to actually write anything else, besides JavaScript there is no cut in code development. Once all the programmers are familiar with the somewhat different way of programming, they can read all the code.

For developing we use Nodeclipse and GIT versioning.

Please let us know what you think, in the comment section below. We also attached some more screenshots and excerpts of the Students report from the TH Ingolstadt.

And don’t forget to subscribe our blog on the right.






Introduction to MI5 (ger)

In the following video, we will give you a short introduction about the Project MI5. In general, we think of it as a perfect possibility for students, to enhance their practical experience. Since in universities, the focus lies on the theoretical stuff, we additionally learn to apply our newly learned skills.

This practical experience is unique for must of us, and challenges us. We recognize, that it can be a big step, from dry theory, to practical application.