By James Hoagland, Senior Solutions Engineer

Elderly and chronically ill patients are dependent on the support of relatives or nursing services. However, that reliable support was more difficult to maintain during the COVID-19 crisis as disease-related absences of relatives and overworked nursing staff put significant strain on resources. If invention is the mother of necessity than the newly developed digital medication management system TAB in TIME is proof of that, as it offers a solution for chronically ill patients to be supplied with vital medication with minimal involvement of support personnel.

The beauty of TAB In TIME is in its details.  After filling the device in the morning, the unit provides up to five individual time settings in which to dispense medication as well as the appropriate amount of water.  TAB in TIME also has visual and acoustic reminders for the proper release of medication and more importantly, automatically notifies the registered contact person via text message in the case of incorrect or omitted doses. This can be the nursing staff or a relative.  Because of these advanced features, TAB in TIME guarantees the optimal delivery of critical medication in homes, as well as healthcare facilities such as nursing homes or hospitals.

Expert Collaboration

For TAB in TIME, AKVIGO selected Garz & Fricke to develop the device’s entire control unit. The implemented HMI (Human Machine Interface) consists of a display, touch, computing unit, and the corresponding mechanics, all integrated and designed as a panel mount version.  For this interface, Garz & Fricke developed a ready-to-use mechanical installation concept for easy integration, as well as reliable sealing on the front according to enclosure protection class IP66. The heart of the system is the Garz & Fricke single board computer: SANTINO LT. At AKVIGO the ready-to-install HMI module is simply inserted through the housing cut-out on the front of the device and fastened inside with several clamps.

Gabriele Bunse CEO AKVIGO GmbH states that the close collaboration between the two companies was critical in successfully developing TAB in TIME: “We knew Garz & Fricke had the requisite know-how, but what impressed us most was the personal commitment of the employees and their patience with the necessary and continuous improvement process.”

Efficient Customization of Standard Components

According to James Hoagland, Senior Solutions Engineer of Garz & Fricke Inc in the U.S., the secret sauce is the company’s ability to achieve a high level of customization using standard components, “In the case of TAB in TIME, we adapted our standard “SANTINO LT 5.0” HMI as a panel mount, upgraded the unit seals to meet the IP66 rating and streamlined mechanical installation to meet the usage requirements of the system.  And all this in the shortest possible time.”

Additionally, since the automatic tablet dispenser sends a warning message to the registered contact person if the medication is not taken correctly, communication via WLAN, Bluetooth or LTE is critical and must be guaranteed. Due to the limited space available, the Garz & Fricke designers opted for a combination of a compact Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module and an external LTE modem. As a result, the software developers at Garz & Fricke made a necessary driver adjustment in the panel’s Board Support Package (BSP).

Another modification included a specialized keypad cable for connecting the customer’s own stock beacon board had to be added, which Garz & Fricke then pre-assembled to the single-board computer by adding a specially designed cable bushing.

Ultimately, AKVIGO was able to realize its specialized device thanks to its close collaboration with Garz & Fricke’s and their ability to apply an innovative and customized approach across all aspects of the device’s design and functionality.

Additional Information About Garz & Fricke

Garz & Fricke is specialized in the development and production of state-of-the-art HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) and hardware and software solutions for the industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Production under the highest quality standards is based at the company headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.

Garz & Fricke focuses on the seamless integration and custom development of systems that are either implemented on the basis of standard solutions, modified according to customer’s specific requirements or, if necessary, realized as completely new solutions. Its customers, in particular OEMs and system integrators, include medical and laboratory technology, vending machines, food service equipment, security technology, and industrial automation sectors.

The company is part of the Garz & Fricke Group, which also includes processor module specialist Keith & Koep and the application developer e-GITS. Together, the group forms one of the most formidable system providers for ARM-based embedded technologies worldwide. In addition, the group offers additional services in the matching software ecosystem. Customers benefit from a large product portfolio, but also from a broadly based research & development team. Whether ready-to-use HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) based on proven Single Board Computers (SBCs) by Garz & Fricke, flexible System On Modules (SOMs) from Keith & Koep for sophisticated demands on interfaces and form factors, or the final application development at e-GITS — customers always receive the right products for their specific requirements. The group is represented at its sites in Hamburg, Wuppertal and Stuttgart and at its international locations in Minneapolis (USA) and Chennai (India).

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