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Has coronavirus led to increased efficiencies in the embedded sector or given rise to greater concerns?

Embedded systems are on the rise across a range of industries. Transformations in technology and improvements in microcontrollers have led to an increase in the applications of embedded systems. But COVID-19 is having a more immediate impact on the sector, and perhaps not in the most obvious ways. In this blog, DSL’s Managing Director, Rory Dear, shares his insights on some of the more understated changes the pandemic has imposed on the industry.

Project design efficiency

“One of the most common shifts across all businesses has been the almost instant transfer to video calls in place of face-to-face meetings.

“While video-conferencing can’t replace the human connections made at a physical meeting, this new way of working has actually led to more efficient collaboration. With tools such as screen sharing, along with the ease of getting all the right people together in one place, projects are getting started and completed more quickly.

“I would even go further and say that there has been zero negative efficiency impact on the design process during lockdown. We can start a project within a couple of days and don’t have to book two weeks in advance to ensure everyone is free.

“The current situation has forced people into this but we adapted from day one. We sent people home early and moved to Microsoft Teams immediately. I believe we’ll see this continue in the industry and we’ll see fewer physical meetings than before COVID-19.”

Off-the-shelf installs

“Panel and industrial PC installations require someone to physically install them at a client’s site, and this has of course been hit by COVID-19.

“But while the installation of new kit will always have to be physical, how reliable that equipment is dictates whether that is a one-time visit or a more regular series of visits. All companies will be restricting such site visits to the minimum for a long time so having hardware that can be trusted to work, and stay working, becomes even more important.”

Touchscreens

“We’ve had a surge in enquiries about touchscreen cleaning since the start of the pandemic. Touchscreens are a common point of contact for multiple users and therefore a key area of attention when it comes to cleaning, which is now more imperative than ever.

“The good news is that the days of the original plastic touchscreens, where any harsh chemical caused clouding of the displays, are long gone. Our PCAP systems are fully glass fronted and sealed so can be cleaned with even the harshest of chemical products, including pure alcohol, without the worry of causing damage.”

Buyer beware

“As the panel PC business moves from niche to increasingly mainstream, the number of manufacturers and distributors has risen exponentially. At first glance, this growth may seem of benefit to the buyer, as pricing is brought down through economies of scale. However, I’m concerned about two major consequences that some of these newcomers are triggering.

“Firstly, I’m seeing new manufacturers springing up without the years of expertise in waterproofing or passive cooling which is affecting the quality of the product delivered to customers. Entire production lines can grind to a halt if a panel PC dies, it’s not just a case of throwing it away and re-ordering.

“Secondly, with a focus on price instead of reliability, some of these entirely new distributors who don’t have the in-house expertise to support the specifying or realisation stages, are negatively impacting purchasers’ experience of the process and even the industry as a whole. The old adage ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ certainly rings true here.

“I’m proud that DSL is known in the industry for our robust and reliable products. Our UK-based team provides a wealth of knowledge and expertise, providing our clients with high quality products and lifetime technical support.”

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