Hannes Niederhauser, CEO of S&T AG, has identified five defining trends in the industry for the coming year: Predictive Maintenance, High Performance Computing/AI, 5G and 10G-PON, Functional Safety and the SDC standard in the medical sector.
“Corona has changed the world and given a boost to digitalization in many areas. This is particularly evident in the industrial environment. Processes around production have also changed. We see a trend from off-shoring to Asia back to in-shoring to Europe. However, competitive production requires a high degree of automation. This requires state-of-the-art technologies.
By 2025, around 75,000 million machines will be integrated into the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The leading market research institutes forecast annual growth of 31%. Due to this development, gigantic amounts of data are being generated around the globe, which must be evaluated and distributed reliably, quickly and securely. Kontron, being responsible for the IoT Solutions division within the S&T Group, has already set the course for corresponding solutions with the development of numerous key technologies.
Practical solutions for the digital transformation
In 2021, we will focus, among other things, on further supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. We support them in their strategic orientation, the consistency of applications and the feasibility of solutions in the ecosystem of the respective company. To this end, we offer everything for digital transformation within the SUSiEtec portfolio, from consulting to HW/SW bundles, system integration, SW development, hybrid cloud to installation and maintenance.
Digitalisation is also becoming increasingly prevalent in the service sector. Predictive maintenance of components, coupled with automatic and coordinated deployment plans, offer new business models. We offer suitable tools for this, such as SUSiEtec Workforce, to digitally control the deployment of service teams; or the Equipment Cloud, in which all hardware and software versions for service purposes are stored and can be called up at any time.
High Performance Computing/AI with a new standard
The trend topic HPC (High Performance Computing) in the embedded edge computing sector will continue to accompany us in 2021. With the new COM-HPC® standard, a comprehensive range of solutions can be realised in the future which require the highest computing power, large storage capacities and high bandwidths. The spectrum of applications ranges from edge servers, AI/ML/DL solutions in industry, stationary testers and mobile measuring devices to mobile edge computing for LTE/5G networks and rugged computers for autonomous vehicles such as shuttle buses, taxis or vehicles in the agricultural and heavy-duty sector, which will be networked with GPS and AI functionality via 5G. For this purpose, we are planning the first COM-HPC® server modules with server-class processors for the second half of 2021. Virtualization, consolidation of applications and AI support are also offered by the new industrial Kontron modules, boards and systems that can be networked in real-time using TSN (Time Sensitive Networking). We see OPC UA over TSN, being an open, cross-industry and manufacturer-independent standard, as an essential basis for successful digitalization in the factory.
5G and 10G-PON create new possibilities
The new mobile communications standard 5G enables enormous bandwidths, real-time applications and a large number of participants with high security. Private networks can also be implemented in smart factories, for example to securely network and monitor flexible manufacturing cells, robots, AGVs, machines and devices with the lowest latency, e.g. in connection with TSN and OPC UA. Kontron has a large technology pool in the area of "Mission Critical Communication" and can build on the many years of experience of its communication teams for the further adaptation of 5G. In the area of public safety and emergency services, 5G will become the platform for reliable real-time communication. SNS Telecom forecasts the residential LTE and 5G market to grow at a CAGR of 19% between 2020 and 2023. We expect this trend to continue until 2030.
The pandemic has significantly increased the trend towards home office and remote learning. We therefore expect investments in upgrading the broadband access network to 10G PON (Passive Optical Network) solutions to increase in the coming months. Numerous communications service providers have already started upgrading in 2020 and Kontron is supporting several projects here. According to Omdia Research, further strong growth is expected from 2021 onwards.
IoT, IIoT and Industry 4.0 applications are gaining in complexity due to the rapid market developments. The role of FuSa (Functional Safety) will therefore become all the more decisive in the future in order to avoid errors and prevent dangerous system failures. This ensures the protection of people, but also prevents damage to property. Kontron is planning its own hardware-based "FuSa-ready" products for the end of 2021.
Medical technology is becoming more digital
In medical technology, the SDC (Service-Oriented Device Connectivity) protocol will play a central role in the future. Kontron plans to support its own products for the medical sector with SDC as part of its membership in the OR.NET e.V.. The SDC standard ensures the fundamental interoperability of medical devices and provides for standardised and secure data exchange. As a result, clinical processes can be digitalised, staff can be relieved and patient safety can be increased.
2021 will be an exciting year from a technological perspective. The pandemic will probably stay with us for a while and will continue to drive digitalization in many areas. As a global, diversified and financially strong and innovative, reliable partner, we are ideally positioned to accompany our customers with their digital transformation. New applications will change processes and make them more secure. Standards simplify communication between devices and between man and machine. We will all benefit from this.”