The business environment for companies developing automation and control systems has become more challenging as many still experience difficulties in obtaining hardware in time and are challenged by customers requesting new features and keeping up with an increasing pace of technology innovation.
In this post, we will discuss some advantages of using a hardware-independent software development platform, both from the perspective of the company developing applications and from the view of the CTO/technical manager, project manager and automation engineer.
1. Safeguarding your project with a multi-source supply chain
The Covid-19 shutdown created a shortage of electronic devices resulting in significant issues for many companies in just being able to obtain the required hardware devices and equipment to be able to deliver projects, Post Covid, the availability has improved, but companies are still facing issues.
When a software development platform is tied to a particular hardware vendor, it can limit your options and create dependencies that may not be in your best interests. Using an independent development platform safeguards your project as you can have more flexibility and options in choosing your hardware suppliers and avoid being dependent on a single source.
2. Reduce hardware cost
Another benefit of not being tied to a single supplier is that it can help you reduce your cost by leveraging the competition among hardware vendors to negotiate better prices, terms, and conditions for your project.
You are also able to select hardware that is fit for purpose and thereby eliminates the need to purchase more expensive hardware or devices than is required.
The engineers do not need to purchase expensive hardware to begin working on the project as the development and initial testing can be done on inexpensive devices.
3. Greater flexibility
An independent software development platform gives you greater flexibility in your software development process and can be a crucial factor in allowing you to adapt to changing customer needs and market demands.
This gives you greater flexibility in several ways:
- You can easily switch between different hardware platforms without having to rewrite your code or affect your application functionality. You can also take advantage of new hardware features or capabilities as they become available.
- It becomes easier to scale the system according to the workload and distribute or balance your application across multiple hardware platforms to improve its availability or resilience.
Technology is evolving faster with new innovations and solutions. Future-proofing is a strategy that enables you to withstand or accommodate future changes or developments in technology, customer expectations, or market conditions.
Using an open and independent development platform enhances your ability to make use of new innovative technology and meet new market demands as you can easily adopt new innovative hardware devices or develop new features requiring more new generations of devices. You can also easily extend the lifespan and value of your application and avoid it becoming obsolete.
5. Improve productivity and faster development
Having access to an open independent tool can make engineers more efficient when developing systems and increasing the company’s productivity by:
- A tool with a hardware abstraction layer allows engineers can focus on writing code, rather than worrying about hardware compatibility issues.
- Developing systems using a single tool is more efficient and easier than having to learn and use different development tools depending on the selected hardware.
- Hardware can be swapped out easily without needing to change the codebase, thus saving time and issues.
- It is easier to integrate different hardware and software components and reduce the risk of compatibility issues.
6. Simplifying maintenance
Customers require that automation systems are maintained over many years, in some industries for more than 20 years. This becomes a challenge as hardware becomes obsolete and you no longer can purchase spare parts. Being independent of hardware manufacturers makes it easier to replace obsolete hardware with new models or technologies without having to perform major system updates.
Supporting customers becomes simpler as service engineers only need a single tool to test, find issues and upgrade systems irrespective of the hardware devices used in the delivery. You can also simplify your maintenance processes, as you don’t need to maintain separate software versions for different hardware or devices.
7. Improved competitive advantage
The competitive advantage does not come from being able to reduce the cost of hardware or being more effective in developing solutions.
The hardware independence allows you to quickly adapt to changing requirements and enables you use new technologies faster and thereby reducing your time-to-market.
Being independent allows you to bid for and develop new solutions or add innovative features to your system.
8. Improved team collaboration
When using a single tool that is hardware independent for all your projects, the engineers can work together more effectively, as they can share code and collaborate on the development of your different applications. It also becomes easier to create a library of shared software code that is shared between the engineers.
9. Improved reliability and security
Being able to delBeing able to deliver reliable and secure systems is important and there are several factors that a hardware-independent development platform can improve this:iver reliable and secure systems is important and there are several factors that a hardware-independent development platform can improve this:
- You are free to choose the components that have the required reliability required for the system, for example maritime-approved devices, and devices able to survive in harsh conditions.
- It is easier to create automated test systems as many of the system tests can run on centralized test servers without the need for specific hardware or devices. This both simplifies the setup and can increase the test coverage and thereby making your system more robust and reliable.
- A single tool bridging different hardware simplifies the systems as you have fewer tools, interfaces, and integrations.
- Cyber security is becoming a strong requirement and only having to set this up correctly from a single development tool and applying it to a complete system is significantly easier as you have the single solution across all devices and hardware, making it harder for attackers to exploit weaknesses in the system.
- Maintaining the system with respect to cyber security and applying security patches becomes significantly easier.
10. Fewer sleepless nights
Having the flexibility to have a multi-vendor hardware strategy and knowing that you have viable alternatives for delivering a project will avoid sleepless nights for many in your company. The engineers developing the systems have more freedom to find solutions to problems and to make use of new innovative technology and hopefully reduce long hours close to project deadlines.
In conclusion, using a software development platform that is independent of hardware types and vendors is an important consideration for any business that wants to stay ahead of the curve. By safeguarding your project with a multi-source supply chain, reducing costs, improving flexibility, future-proofing your projects, and improving team collaboration.
Interested in learning how CDP Studio supports hardware, read our whitepaper: How CDP Support HW.