Why building solutions with industrial-grade products really matters

Taufique Ahmed | June 2022

Let us consider a hypothetical scenario: Customers looking to deploy video security systems are faced with a choice between a consumer-grade SSD and an industrial-grade SSD to capture their important video feeds. The consumer-grade SSD will save a bit of capital expenditure, which is attractive. However, the customer doesn’t take into account that the industrial-grade drive is optimized for high-temperature and high write environments and has health monitoring, all of which are valuable for mission-critical data. If our customer chooses the consumer-grade drive and it fails or goes into read-only mode, video data isn’t captured or retained. It could be days before the customer notices. For small businesses, this could mean something like lost security footage of shoplifters or noncompliance with HIPAA guidelines (video security ensures only employees have access to health information).

This and many more scenarios are why Micron launched the Industrial Quotient (IQ) Partner program in 2020 to promote solutions that deliver high-quality, robust and long-lasting products across a breadth of industrial applications. The program highlights the value of industrial-grade solutions for mission-critical applications and to address pain points in the market by ensuring industrial products meet a set of value propositions including application-specific tuning, ruggedization, high reliability, quality testing, longevity and security by design. Adhering to these specific value propositions helps address and avoid problematic customer issues like those illustrated above.

Why consumer-grade doesn’t stack up for industrial use cases

Historically, the industrial market has been very well-defined with select suppliers providing industrial-grade solutions to customers. However, in the past decade, the market has become saturated with consumer-grade solutions that do not meet the industrial market’s stringent requirements.

In talking with customers across the industry, we learned of scenarios in manufacturing, transportation and even healthcare with consumer-grade solutions failing due to the inability to withstand harsh industrial conditions, leading to data loss and downtime for important operations – causing financial and brand damage, safety risks and loss of credibility. In today’s fast-moving data economy, even just a few minutes of downtime can have dire implications from lost revenue to physical safety – whether for medical IoT devices that fail to capture necessary patient data or a train brake management system that fails. Discovering these pain points led us to create the IQ Partner program to promote awareness and education of the need for memory and storage that meet industrial demands.

Meeting industrial requirements

The program provides customers with confidence through the Micron IQ stamp of approval that the solutions under the IQ umbrella meet strict criteria for industrial solutions. Through the IQ Partner program, Micron works closely with partners to provide and assure to customers:

  • Application-specific tuning — Extensive collaboration with global customers to develop in-depth understanding of application use cases and deliver products and features to meet those specific application needs
  • Ruggedized products — Product enhancements that enable consistent performance across harsh environments: extended temperature, thermal cycling, shock, humidity, etc.
  • High reliability — Design and testing processes that add a high level of endurance and reliability to align with needs of long lifecycle embedded applications
  • Extensive quality testing — Rigorous testing to deliver the consistent performance across products and processes necessary in embedded and mission-critical applications
  • Product longevity — Extended lifecycle support for eligible products via our Product Longevity Program, which goes a step beyond standard lifecycle support to suit long-life applications

With a goal of increased longevity and reliability, the program is focused on ensuring enhanced resiliency of mission-critical business operations, integrity of data, and lower total cost of ownership for embedded solutions.

Expanding the IQ Partner program

Micron championed the IQ Partner program and recruited ecosystem partners who are aligned to the same customer value props. IQ partners currently include: Advantech, ATP, Greenliant, Innodisk, Kontron, Mercury Systems, Viking Technology and SMART Modular Technologies. In addition to these industry leaders, Micron recently announced the addition of embedded and edge computing module providers congatec and PHYTEC to the program. Congatec and PHYTEC design and manufacture computer-on-modules and system-on-modules, respectively, used in medical technology, industrial automation, renewable energy, aerospace and transportation and more.

The IQ Partner program fosters close collaboration with these ecosystem partners to produce solutions that are tightly aligned to the industrial market’s stringent requirements for quality, longevity and reliability – crucial for industrial implementations such as factories that need equipment to run smoothly for decades. This collaboration is facilitated through the regular sharing of product roadmaps, early access to platforms for design-in, preference in sampling for the latest Micron technology, sharing of qualification and technical data, early access to products and more.

“As the digitization takes hold, industrial IoT applications are placing entirely new demands on embedded and edge computer design,” said Christian Eder, director of product marketing at congatec. “Businesses across automation, medical, energy, transportation and further critical infrastructures require powerful computing cores with highest reliability, and Micron’s industrial-grade memory has been essential to enabling best-of-breed computer-on-modules. Joining the Micron Industrial Quotient program will tighten our collaboration and equip us to deliver solutions designed to withstand the most adverse industrial environments.”

The IQ Partner Program also addresses the need for greater coordination and collaboration across the complex industrial supply chain. Coordination across the supply chain is required for designing today’s industrial solutions due to many players (consultants, contractors, equipment manufacturers, suppliers) and components involved in implementing industrial equipment for long-lifecycle deployment in projects like factory automation and energy and power management. Tight coordination and hardware compatibility is paramount as everything needs to be able to work together seamlessly for decades, in environments where reliable operation over the long haul is a big part of stringent industrial deployment requirements.

“Since the foundation of PHYTEC Messtechnik GmbH in 1985, one of our highest priorities has always been to supply our customers with robust, reliable and safe modules with high long-term availability to meet the rigorous demands of industrial environments,” said PHYTEC Technical CEO Bodo Huber. “In joining Micron’s Industrial Quotient program, we will work in lockstep to develop industrial-grade solutions with Micron’s cutting-edge technology — which gives our customers significant competitive advantage. Early access to the latest products and technologies is another benefit that helps our customers accelerate time to market. In this day and age, with the component shortage and other supply chain obstacles, it is vital to have a strong and reliable partner like Micron to minimize the impact for our customers.

The additions of congatec and PHYTEC to the IQ Partner program make Micron’s trusted memory and storage solutions more broadly accessible to the industrial market. The IQ Partner program provides the customer confidence in choosing the right memory and storage solutions for their industrial needs. Products that minimize total cost of ownership and ensure long-term reliability and quality with simplified product lifecycle management are necessary for success. The powerful combination of our industry-leading technology and tight ecosystem collaboration are key to giving our customers the confidence to drive innovation with both the speed and resiliency needed to keep pace with fast-moving transformation at the intelligent edge.

Senior Manager, Segment Marketing

Taufique Ahmed

Senior Manager of Industrial Segment Marketing