Model-Based Testing of Highly Configurable Embedded Systems in the Automation Domain

Model-Based Testing of Highly Configurable Embedded Systems in the Automation Domain

Detlef Streitferdt (Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany), Florian Kantz (ABB Corporate Research, Germany), Philipp Nenninger (ABB Corporate Research, Germany), Thomas Ruschival (ABB Corporate Research, Germany), Holger Kaul (ABB Corporate Research, Germany), Thomas Bauer (Fraunhofer IESE, Germany), Tanvir Hussain (Fraunhofer IESE, Germany) and Robert Eschbach (Fraunhofer IESE, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/jertcs.2011040102
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Abstract

This article reports the results of an industrial case study demonstrating the efficacy of a model-based testing process in assuring the quality of highly configurable systems from the automation domain. Escalating demand for flexibility has made modern embedded software systems highly configurable. This configurability is often realized through parameters and a highly configurable system possesses a handful of those. Small changes in parameter values can account for significant changes in the system’s behavior, whereas in other cases, changed parameters may not result in any perceivable reaction. This case study addresses the challenge of applying model-based testing to configurable embedded software systems to reduce development effort. As a result of the case study, a model-based testing process was developed and tailored toward the needs of the automation domain. This process integrates existing model-based testing methods and tools, such as combinatorial design and constraint processing. The testing process was applied as part of the case study and analyzed in terms of its actual saving potentials, which reduced the testing effort by more than a third.
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Softstarter Example

Electric motors are common actuators in process automation. For this article, the starting and the stopping of an electric motor is taken as example. The device used in this article is a softstarter as shown in Figure 1, which is used to smoothly ramp up/down a motor. This functionality is needed for large motors where the peak current consumption from the power grid may cause a breakdown in voltage or for conveyor belts where sudden steep acceleration ramps may damage the transported goods.

Figure 1.

Softstarter for different motor sizes

Besides ramping the motor up and down, a softstarter monitors the motor to detect, e.g., a locked or overheated motor or disturbances in the power supply network that might damage the motor.

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