Current supply chains are extremely strained and disrupted. In 2021 we had the hope that these disruptions would gradually diminish and industrial production would return to normal. This hope has not come true and in reality the current Covid crisis in China and the war in the Ukraine have deteriorated international supply chains even further.
How does the supply chain disruption impact?
Through our customer and partners we gain a lot of insight into the current situation when it comes to sourcing single board computers, gateways or other industrial controllers. Lead times vary greatly, also depending on volume. But it is common that lead times stretch from half a year to the point that distributors don’t even want to predict any lead time. This makes IoT and digital transformation projects very hard to plan. Since the hardware often is the key component to design around this introduces additional complexity, delays and uncertainty.
What are the key limitations?
In many industrial projects you select a suitable single board computer, controller or gateway first, and then do the software development and hardware integration. But as long as you are using standard interfaces such as Modbus, digital I/O ports or 0-10V / 4-20mA interfaces these are fairly compatible across devices. If your application software is designed to run more or less on any standard Linux then this is also fairly compatible (we are still astonished how many projects start out on a standard Raspberry Pi before turning more industrial with real industry grade components).
How can you design around a supply chain disruption?
So the main blocking component is often the remote access and device management solution. Many of these solutions are extremely tied into a specific Linux or hardware. This is where qbee.io can help you to abstract away your dependency on any specific hardware. Our device management software is designed to run on basically any Linux. This allows to operate different hardware brands in parallel within the same system or switching out devices between generations. In essence, we free you from taking an early decision on the final hardware devices. In more common times this allows our customers to find devices with the best price/performance ratio or protect them from vendor lock in. In these unusual times we are currently living in this allows you to select your final hardware according to lead time and availability. If you see that suitable devices are available it will take you less than a day to migrate your whole device management and application stack to the new device and turn that into your hardware platform of choice. This will ensure a timely delivery to your customer and make you less dependent on specific hardware.