Guest contribution by Hannes Niederhauser CEO at S&T Group | Executive Board Member at S&T AG and Kontron.
While testing times present an array of challenges, rather than hampering progress, they can and have led to some of the greatest leaps forward in innovation and technology. Look at the way the world has responded to the global pandemic. Look at how fast vaccines have been developed, brought to market, and have been able to treat Covid-19 effectively. How can pharmaceutical firms ever justify needing decades to create cures again, when next-generation technologies are ready to be harnessed?
Look at how the world has adapted to cope with working from home life, and every person required reliable and ubiquitous home broadband. Look at how those changes may now be irreversible and lead to a completely new relationship between employees and employer. One thing is certain, you cannot hold back the tide of new technology. We can still expect the speed and capability of our computers to increase every couple of years at a lower cost thanks to exponential technology growth.
As organizations globally seek greater levels of efficiency and sustainability, utilizing the latest technologies is a must. Here are some of the technological advances we are most excited about at S&T Group.
5G enables rail growth
5G is here and everyone knows it. What is exciting about 5G is what it can deliver for various industries. In transportation, we are especially excited about the development of the Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) as it will deliver vast improvements in user experience. It will also bring greater levels of efficiency and security to rail operations.
As organizations look to fulfill global decarbonization targets and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, there will be an increased amount of goods transported by rail as opposed to road or air in the months and years ahead. Our focus this year is to help update railway systems throughout Europe with the global 5G-based standard for mission-critical train networks.
Open RAN opportunity
Open RAN is also key to enabling a 5G future. Thanks to open standards, vendor lock-in is avoided for operators and a multi-vendor environment provides lower equipment costs and more customer choice. This is a great growth opportunity for the Open RAN community. By focusing on greater interoperability and standardized technology, our solution offering will help create efficient and cost-effective networks.
Time Sensitive Networking grows
Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) has now arrived in the market and we are seeing growing demand from our automation customers. This encourages us to go and expand our TSN activities to also support wireless TSN and we remain committed in utilizing the IEEE Ethernet standards. This year, we should see the first implementations of TSN over 5G. With enhanced reliability and the lowest latency, 5G will transform industrial operations and connect equipment, people, devices and machines in real-time securely.
We see operators leveraging this technology, as they know 5G based real-time connectivity will be the key technology for the smart factories of the future.
Businesses urgently require flexible manufacturing, enhanced control and automation, and reliable communications. Fifth-generation technology will deliver all of this. At S&T Group, we are stepping into the wireless arena and helping deliver reduced long-term costs for our customers.
High performance computing and functional safety unlocked
This year, we have unveiled our COM-HPC® modules and our customers are already excited about these newfound possibilities. This will bring improved real-time data behaviour and allow our customers to consolidate multiple workloads onto one platform. Alongside the higher performance of the compute elements and communication interfaces, COM-HPC supports larger memory, that is desperately needed to successfully run multiple virtualized applications simultaneously and in real-time on a single platform.
Functional safety is of the utmost importance. That is why we integrate it in more and more of our Kontron industrial edge platforms and product offering. Our Functional Safety building block integrates hardware and software into one scalable solution, offering original equipment manufacturers additional space, reduced cabling, and cost savings.
AI is a key focus
One driver of high performance computing today is Artificial Intelligence. We continue to place much of our attention on growing our AI capabilities in edge applications. Our award winning AI solution, in partnership with HAILO, delivers the highest AI inference performance with very low latency on Kontron Edge computers together with the extreme power efficiency needed at the edge. The combination of Kontron’s large ecosystem of processing platforms with the Hailo acceleration technology and Kontron’s Software services brings a large number of benefits to our customers. This includes a selection of the best platforms for the job and a one-stop shopping experience for forthcoming AI applications.
Focusing on the medical market
Following up on our successful activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, we continue to focus on the medical market, supplying the latest technologies with a special focus on connectivity for cost reduction and supply flexibility. We reached that goal by using standardized core designs that already fulfill all required medical standards and equally have a high degree of freedom for quick and easy customization to the final application needs. One example of this is our latest fully connected Human-Machine-Interface Line “MediClient”. The MediClient helps securely connect clinical IT with medical devices and wearables and meets the highest requirements for hygiene, robustness and longevity. Our solution is user-friendly and easy to use, helping ensure that hospital staff can access reliable communications at all times.
Software, services and security
All of the above trends need to align with the appropriate application software to unlock digitalization.
The trend to create a digital clone or twin of the deployed systems in the field by enabling remote device monitoring, management, maintenance, and secure updates is increasing significantly. Also, the ability to analyze huge amounts of field data (“Big data”) is becoming a real differentiating factor.
Connected device security based on a secure operating system enabling secure transactions is now indispensable.
Kontron’s one-stop service in these areas is increasingly in demand.
As the aforementioned trends are set to shape the sector in 2022, organizations must make sure they are harnessing the latest technologies to maintain pace with the competition and realize their full potential.