13. Januar 2021, 17:00 Uhr | Tobias Schlichtmeier
Hannes Niederhauser, CEO of the S&T Group, takes a positive view of developments in the IoT sector.
In a statement, Hannes Niederhauser, CEO of S&T, explains the trends that will affect the embedded sector in 2021. In particular, new standards are in focus. They accelerate the developments around high-performance computing, IoT and AI.
The Corona pandemic has given digitization a boost – especially in the industrial environment. Likewise, processes around production have changed. For example, there is a trend from off-shoring to Asia back to in-shoring to Europe. This shortens supply chains and creates more proximity to partner companies. However, competitive production in Europe requires a high degree of automation – which can only be implemented with modern technologies.
By 2025, around 75 billion machines will be integrated into the IoT and the IIoT. Leading market research institutes forecast annual growth of 31 percent. As a result of this development, very large volumes of data are being generated worldwide. They must be evaluated and distributed reliably as well as quickly and securely. Rapid developments will be seen in the IoT sector in the coming months. These include the further expansion of 5G networks, the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) methods, and intelligent edge computing. In addition, many new applications in Industry 4.0, transportation, medical and system-relevant infrastructure. In topics related to high-performance computing (HPC), the new COM-HPC standard is becoming the basis for developing new applications in the IoT/embedded area. Kontron, which is responsible for the IoT Solutions division in the S&T Group, has already set the course for corresponding applications with the development of numerous key technologies.
One of the focal points of the S&T Group in 2021 will be the continued support of small and medium-sized enterprises. »Our aim is to turn current trends into practical, optimized applications for our customers and to demonstrate their concrete benefits«, says Niederhauser. In this context, the boundaries between hardware, software, cloud, and edge are fading into the background. In contrast, the focus shifts to the user perspective. We support our partners in their strategic orientation, the consistency of applications and the implementation of complete solutions in the ecosystem of the respective company. To this end, we offer everything for digital transformation within the »SUSiEtec portfolio«: consulting, hardware and software bundles, system integration, software development, hybrid cloud, as well as installation and maintenance.
Likewise, digitalization is becoming increasingly prevalent in the service sector. Predictive maintenance, coupled with automatic and coordinated deployment plans, offers new business models. For this purpose, Kontron offers suitable tools such as »SUSiEtec Workforce» to digitally control the deployment of service teams. This optimizes collaboration at all levels – from person to person as well as from machine to machine or from person to machine. As a result, all relevant information is available on any end device, regardless of location, remotely and around the clock.
The trend topic of HPC in the edge computing sector will continue to accompany us in the new year. The new COM-HPC-standard will make it possible to implement an extensive range of applications and complete solutions with high computing power and bandwidths as well as large storage capacities in the future. The spectrum of applications is broad: It ranges from edge servers, AI/ML/DL applications in industry, stationary testers, and mobile measuring devices, to mobile edge computing for LTE/5G networks and rugged computers for autonomous vehicles. For this purpose, we are planning the first COM-HPC server modules with server-class processors for the 2nd half of 2021. High computing power is also offered by the new Kontron industrial modules, boards and systems that can be networked in real time using TSN (Time Sensitive Networking). We see the open and manufacturer-independent-standard OPC UA over TSN as an essential basis for successful digitalization in the factory.
The new mobile communications standard 5G enables large bandwidths, real-time applications, and many participants. Added to this is the high security factor. 5G also makes it possible to implement private networks, for example in smart factories. 5G networks are scalable and adaptable. In private industrial networks, a wireless backbone can be implemented with the new mobile communications standard, for example to securely network flexible manufacturing cells and robots. However, 5G networks can also be used for wireless control and monitoring of machines and devices in industrial environments with low latency, for example in conjunction with TSN and OPC UA. Similarly, the residential LTE and 5G market is forecast by SNS Telecom to grow at a rate of 19 percent between 2020 and 2023. We expect this trend to continue through 2030.
Due to the pandemic, the trend toward home office and remote learning has increased. Analogously, the need for high-speed connections is increasing. We therefore expect companies to invest in upgrading the broadband access network to 10G PON (Passive Optical Network) in the coming months. Numerous communications service providers have already started upgrading their optical access networks to 10 Gigabit in 2020. Kontron is already supporting several projects here. According to Omdia Research, further strong growth is expected from 2021. According to this, 10G-PON will become the dominant new fixed broadband access technology within the next two years.
IIoT and Industry 4.0 applications are becoming increasingly complex. The role of FuSa (Functional Safety) will therefore be more decisive in the future. In industrial environments, identifying and assessing risks are essential. With individual applications, errors can be avoided, and dangerous system failures prevented. This ensures the protection of people and prevents damage to property. To cover this spectrum, Kontron is developing its own hardware-based »FuSa-ready«-products, which should be available from the end of 2021.
In medical technology, the Service-Oriented Device Connectivity (SDC) protocol will play a central role in the future. Kontron plans to support its own products for the medical sector with SDC in the future as part of its membership in OR.NET e.V.. Thus, the SDC standard ensures the basic interoperability of medical devices. In distributed systems, this enables the dynamic finding of compatible networking partners and ensures standardized and secure data exchange.