For engineering the 21st century has gone pretty well so far. From the rise of smartphones, over mobile internet and the IoT to renewable energy technology there have been many challenges and opportunities which have fuelled the need for inventions and new ideas.
Newly born trends like the maker movement are not only producing a flood of creative applications but help the technology industries to get access to young professionals which are motivated to take on the challenges of tomorrow. Makers highly profit from modern development platforms which help them to build applications out of building blocks such as MCUs, sensors and software which are meant to easily work with each other and save them a lot of headaches during the design process.
One of the most advanced, flexible and easy-to-innovate toolsets for the development of connected devices and applications is the STM32 Open Development Environment (ODE) from STMicroelectronics. However the ODE consisting out of STM32 Nucleo development boards, STM32 Nucleo expansion boards, STM32Cube software and STM32Cube expansion software is suited for far more complex projects than some small maker inventions would make you think (watch ST’s video from the Maker Faire, October 2015 in Rome here).
The STM32 ODE integrates hardware and software solutions for easy development
The ST building blocks are nearly as easy to use as Lego bricks but are capable of being deployed in complex industrial IoT applications. In times in which the move from traditional manufacturing towards interconnected and predictive manufacturing (or in other words “Industry 4.0”) is becoming a critical process for companies in order to enhance their productivity and to ensure future sustainability this can be a major advantage. This is especially true for smaller and mid-sized companies which face some major technical challenges like the implementation of sensor and communication technology into their production processes.
Until now even companies which have been producing their goods with high-tech machines often did not need to obtain in-depth knowledge on IoT and electronics engineering nor did they need to have extensive software and programming skills. With the industrial IoT this changes as individual setups of production lines require highly customised solutions in order to increase their efficiency.
In order to simplify the implementation of Industry 4.0 technology it can be a beneficial solution to use a sophisticated ODE like the STM32 ODE in order to minimise the need for technical expertise.
Choosing the STM32 ODE means to build up the desired functionality step by step. Based on the required features a company can choose the best suited MCUs from high-performance parts like the STM32F7 to ultra-low power STM32L4 MCUs. In a second step the necessary sensors can be chosen from ST’s sensor portfolio or the STM32 Nucleo expansion boards.
STM32 Nucleo board with STM32 microcontroller, Arduino extension header and integrated debugging/programming ST-LINK probe
As soon as the necessary hardware parts are outlined it is simple to start optimising the software using the STM32Cube software which is easy-to-use and provided for free with the hardware. With ST based connectivity solutions such as the EBVchip Maia (a wireless Sub-GHz Module with proven M-Bus and OMS Stack) and the ST SP1ML-868 (SUB 1GHz Module) it is further easy to connect the applications.
STM32Cube software for easy configuration of your application
While highly complex applications will most likely need additional parts like MOSFETs or motor drivers the STM32 ODE provides an affordable and easy-to-handle entrance to the Industry 4.0. Additionally it’s good news that making changes to the setup and adding functionality is comparably simple – this makes the STM32 ODE highly scalable, flexible and adaptable.
In conclusion, yes, maybe our headline is a little bit exaggerating as Lego might be easier. However with the expertise of EBV and the solutions of ST we are confident that we can help you to manage the transition into the next age of manufacturing without unnecessary hassle or efforts. Checkout our dedicated ST & EBV Industry 4.0 portfolio page for more or contact us directly here for support.