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Heller Industries: Reflow Oven Control System Design

Heller Industries is the world's premier manufacturer of reflow ovens for SMT and semiconductor applications. If you own a television, smart phone, computer or video game system it is likely manufactured using a Heller Oven.

In 1997 Heller contracted with Analogic in Peabody Massachusetts to develop a new low cost oven controller board for their reflow ovens.  Analogic is a premier manufacturer of data acquisition hardware for medical, industrial and military applications.

Analogic and iMagic had a history of collaborating on a variety of development projects. We have partnered with Analogic's Industrial Temperature Group to develop software and device drivers for several industrial control applications. So Analogic understood that in addition to software proficiency we shared Analogic's understanding of control systems, industrial temperature applications and could use that knowledge to produce the necessary software.

Heller Industries also required the development of a Windows based application that allowed data entry, display and real time control. We also developed the necessary WxD device drivers that would execute the control strategy and exchanged I/O information with the new I/O board. We also assured that said device driver became the pre-emptive scheduler of the PC, assuring deterministic real time calculation of the control algorithms.

Since that initial system we have developed new applications and ported the old ones from Windows 95 to Windows Millennium, Windows XP, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and as of this writing Windows 8. We have customized and added features to the software as Heller's business needs required.

In addition, starting in 2000 Analogic made a decision to leave the industrial temperature market. We have supported Heller Industries with several updated controller hardware designs.

In 2002 we completed a redesign of the original low cost controller the original HC1. This new controller was named the HC2. This controller improved the communications speed, reliability and fault tolerance of the original design. The effort also, resulted in moving the control functionality to the HC2. This modification assured that future redesigns of the operating system kernel would no longer destabilize critical control functionality. Tens of thousands of HC1, HC2 controllers and Heller Workstation Software Suites are in the field operating 24 hours a day.

Today and in the future, iMagic hopes to continue to provide Heller Industries with hardware electrical engineering and software development expertise and support.