As an independent system integrator, Aaronn Electronic has access to modules, boards and systems from many embedded manufacturers. This results in applications that the company manufactures according to customer requirements. Find out what manufacturers currently offer and what customers want.
Florian Haidn is Managing Director at Aaronn Electronic.
Mr. Haidn, what is currently on the agenda at Aaronn Electronic?
Florian Haidn: As an independent system integrator, we would like to communicate our corporate culture more strongly to the outside world. Thus, we would like to be perceived as »THE independent partner for the individual realization for industrial IoT applications«. The points independent, individual and industrial are to be emphasized here. We are owner-managed, financially independent and make decisions in the interest of our customers. Furthermore, we can select the individual parts from a wide portfolio of different manufacturers and create complete systems from them according to the customer‘s wishes. Our systems are robust and designed for the industrial environment. It is important to us that a customer receives a product that meets his requirements in the best possible way, that he is thus satisfied and that he receives the best possible support from us throughout the complete product life cycle and beyond.
A long service life is becoming increasingly important for companies. Is there a targeted strategy in component selection?
When it comes to component selection, we are in the second tier. We use embedded computer technology, i.e. modules, boards and systems. So component selection is up to our suppliers such as Kontron, Advantech, ADLink or Seco. We work with established embedded manufacturers and rely on their expertise. We have been working with some companies for decades, and it has been proven that they take great care in component selection. In the current component shortage, manufacturers are increasingly trying to ensure or improve delivery capability through redesigns. For future designs, component selection is increasingly looking at different compatible components to have multiple options for allocations. If we design proprietary carrier or add-on boards for special customer requirements, we also take this into account in our component selection.
Unavailability also applies to complete boards or modules. How do you ensure long-term availability?
This is where the module standards come into play. We have long relied on open standards such as Qseven, SMARC or COM Express, as well as the latest COM-HPC and OSM standards. The product life cycles of the respective CPU generations are at least seven years, which is very important to our customers in terms of their planning security. If a module generation is discontinued with an end-of-life notification with a correspondingly long lead time of approx. 12 months, we work with the customer to determine whether a new and compatible module generation should be qualified with the help of our design-in support or whether residual coverage of the previous module generation should take place. Here, we support our customers in extending the product life cycle for our customers and reducing the capital commitment of our customers by means of framework agreements and storage with us.
What are the advantages for Aaronn with OSM modules? Why do you use the new SGET standard?
OSM modules are less expensive than plug-in modules. They can be assembled and soldered automatically, whereas plug-in modules require a manual process. This results in cost and time advantages for us and our customers, for example compared to Qseven or SMARC. OSM can be a good alternative for many applications. For example, when the size is limited, yet a good performance should be achieved. Just as COM-HPC complements our portfolio well upwards, OSM complements it very well downwards.
Are you already designing COM-HPC modules?
Yes, COM-HPC modules are absolutely predestined for high memory capacities, I/O performance and computing power for the extended temperature range. Previous standard motherboards designed for the server area could not or only partially meet the high requirements for industrial applications. All manufacturers we work with develop products in the COM-HPC standard.
We are involved in the promotion of the new standards from the very beginning, so that our customers are well informed about the new standards and possibilities for their applications. When I look at the portfolio of our manufacturers, I see a different focus: some focus more on server modules, others more on client modules. Our task is to take the customer‘s requirements into account when selecting products and to select the most suitable COM-HPC module for the respective customer application.
How do you differentiate yourselves from your technology partners who offer custom developments themselves?
We offer custom configured systems with customizations, extensions and individualizations. Let me give you an example: We configure a box PC with the required equipment, extend it with different fieldbus cards, play a customer-specific operating system, test the product according to customer requirements and deliver the PC including the customer logo. Due to our structure and flexibility, we are already able to do this with quantities far below 100 units per year. Our technology partners are mostly involved in customer-specific developments of modules, boards or complete systems. Thus we can cover the whole range of developments either in-house or together with our technology partners.
Are there customers who pay more attention to sustainability?
Sustainability is a very big topic. In our day-to-day business, I don‘t yet see this trend taking hold. Mostly, the product itself is supposed to be more energy-efficient. However, the CO2 footprint of the entire value chain of a product is rarely considered. However, the holistic approach will become increasingly important in the future. In electronics production, for example, there is still a lot of plastic waste to ensure ESD protection for the products, so there should be many ideas in the future to do things differently and better.
What innovations will Aaronn be presenting at the SPS in Nuremberg this year?
At our booth we will present our broader portfolio. In addition to innovations in embedded box PCs, computer-on-modules, embedded boards and IoT gateways, we are bringing several innovations in forward-looking areas to the trade fair. In addition to high-quality and durable boards and modules with different form factors and industry standards, we will show industrial PCs with extensive expansion options for a wide range of automation tasks as well as deep learning accelerator platforms and smart AI cameras. We are looking forward to many interesting personal discussions.
Thank you for the interview, Mr. Haidn.