Achieving objectives with partnerships
A company active in the automation field has its core competencies in automation; this is where the specific IP of this firm lies. But it isn’t a detailed knowledge of automation that is needed to communicate through RF radio links. By purchasing adequate standard elements automation companies are enabled to develop a high-performance system within a shorter time frame.
Chip manufacturers have pursued this strategy for a long time, for instance employing processor cores from ARM. Only very few semiconductor manufacturers are able to differentiate themselves by the processor core, instead the differentiator is the total system, which has been created around one or more computing engines based on their systems knowledge. As the installed base of ARM processors is very high, a market has sprung up for the producers of corresponding development tools, this variety benefits chip users in regards to technology and price.
In the same way chip manufacturers use a variety of available products to develop new chips instead of developing products 100% in-house, there are possibilities in many other industries to selectively use external elements to reduce time to market. Today, IT resources can be rented or leased, so big hardware is no longer needed in-house, and there are a variety of companies who offer secure cloud services. In secure cloud services, for example, data security is part of the business model´s core element; in companies like SAP or IBM, a medium-sized company can only achieve the security level that is offered by these more or less off-the-shelf systems, often this can involve huge expenditures.
Therefore one of the secrets of success of Industry 4.0 is the tactical and selective use of external resources. EBV plays an active role in the procurement of these resources, even though the semiconductor distributor achieves no monetary profit for the mediation of such contacts. This added value is a means of building customer loyalty, and is also an investment in the future success of its customers. This long-term commitment to the customer often runs for two to three years after project launch, until the first successful applications come onto the market.
EBV has relationships with several partners including the Fraunhofer Institutes, for example Fraunhofer AISEC in Garching, who deals with security, or Fraunhofer-Institut IOSB-INA in Lemgo, who is active within the SmartFactoryOWL project and is devoted to topics such as TSN and OPC-UA, or several other partners who write software and adapt BSPs (Board Support Packages) on behalf of the end customer.
Projects can suffer from enormous delays when a company cooperates with a third-party who can’t handle the envisaged project despite prior arrangement, either because of a lack of knowledge, manpower or financial stability. EBV Elektronik is not "only" a supplier but a valuable partner in the concept and the design phase. Customers frequently discuss which business models work within the scope of Industry 4.0, using EBV’s expertise to identify the different possibilities and opportunities for the future.
On the other side EBV Elektronik also offers development boards enabling SMEs to evaluate and develop projects from a firm foundation. For example, the ‘SoCrates’ board perfectly demonstrates the possibilities of FPGAs from Altera. ‘SoCrates’ is more than a development board, as it is a complete reference design that allows rapid installation of security functionality for an individual application when special software from the EBV partner, Wibu-Systems, is used.