Gradually more developer cards than industrial computers

Originally designed for private use, developer boards are also increasingly being used in industrial environments. They are easy to program, inexpensive and supported by a large community of developers. But how are developer cards actually used in the Dutch manufacturing sector? Reichelt elektronik surveyed 1,500 companies from the manufacturing sector, 250 of which are in the Netherlands, to find out.

Developer boards are also becoming more and more popular in the Dutch industry: the vast majority (92%) now use them in their own company. Only one in fifty companies (2%) say they have no intention of using these boards. While the accusers especially praise the open source software (48%) and the simple programming (42%), the opponents are critical of the data transmission.

Twenty-five percent say they refrain from using developer cards because of the slow transmission speeds. In addition, missing features and security issues are frequently cited reasons (24%) for not using developer cards.

Shield makes the developer card industrial

In particular, shields and HATs are often used to upgrade developer boards for industrial use. 90 percent of companies upgrade the boards with the following functions:

  • 64% – Expansion of connections and possible transmission protocols
  • 55% – More robust design for the industrial environment
  • 40% – Faster data transfer
  • 11% – Special features such as microphones, 3D motion tracking or power management

41% say they would like to see more robust single board computers and microcontrollers in the future. Dutch companies also see more potential in reliable solutions for cyber security (45%) and quality control according to industrial standards (41%).

Will developer boards replace traditional industrial computers?

Dutch companies mainly use their developer cards for industrial applications (43%). But also for home automation (38%) and robot applications (38%). Most resort to developer boards from Raspberry Pi (56%), Banana Pi (34%) or Google (31%). However, many companies see that the dominance of Raspberry Pi is wavering: When asked which manufacturer is likely to have the largest market share in the next five years, Google and Raspberry Pi were mentioned equally (38%). Even the absolute shift of the guard towards industrial computers no longer seems so far off. Almost all (86%) of the decision makers surveyed see developer boards as a serious competitor to the industrial computers that have been widely used so far.

The size of the company determines the application

When comparing the use of developer boards between the different company sizes, it is striking that mainly medium-sized companies with between 500 and 1000 employees (97%) use developer boards. It can be seen that especially small companies primarily use their boards for industrial applications and development of prototypes. They have the largest share with 60 per cent. In contrast, the largest Dutch companies prefer home automation (50%) and artificial intelligence or data processing at the edge (58%).

A look inside the crystal ball

“Developer boards are already widely used in Dutch industry,” says Sven Pannewitz, product manager for development boards and vehicle accessories at reichelt elektronik. “In fact, many decision-makers see them as serious competition for the industrial computers that are still preferred. With the advancing automation of production processes and the increasing number of application areas, the number of developer cards may increase even more in the future. If manufacturers manage to accommodate to continue with to meet industry needs, the use of developer boards will soon be the norm.”

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