Success Story: Using SUSE Linux for Arm with the Raspberry Pi to transform manufacturing

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Knorr-Bremse, a long time SUSE customer, is deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Arm (SLES for Arm) to transform their manufacturing operations with a goal of improving productivity, reducing downtime, and improving factory floor operations. The solution success story can be found here: https://www.suse.com/c/success/knorr-bremse-ag/

Knorr-Bremse is a German manufacturer of a variety of rail and commercial vehicle components including brakes, door systems, and air conditioning systems. Knorr-Bremse employs over 27,000 workers around the world.

Knorr-Bremse had a problem. Many of their manufacturing machines have service lives of up to 30 years.  Some older machines are not instrumented for remote monitoring, resulting in manufacturing outages and other problems. Knorr-Bremse needed to make their manufacturing operations “smarter” to improve production efficiency and reduce downtime.

The Raspberry Pi single-board-computers were a logical choice for a monitoring hardware platform due to their low cost, easy availability, and the wide variety of I/O sensing devices that are available. Knorr-Bremse experimented with Raspberry Pi devices running the community supported Raspbian operating system, but they soon concluded that they needed an enterprise operating system as part of their solution.

Knorr-Bremse needed an operating system that was secure and reliable. Since the Raspberry Pi-based monitoring systems would be running inside of their corporate network, security was a big concern. Because these systems were key to improving manufacturing efficiency, the systems also had to be reliable. They needed the operating system to be commercially supported, so that they could receive fixes and assistance resolving any operating system problems that might arise. Finally, they wanted a commercially supported management platform to deliver updates to these systems.

Knorr-Bremse seized on the commercial support of SUSE Linux on Raspberry Pi single-board computers as a cost-efficient way to add monitoring to their manufacturing. The solution consists of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Arm (SLES for Arm) running on Raspberry Pi 3 Model B single-board computers with management services provided by SUSE Manager.

Their monitoring solution also includes a number of custom built I/O boards that attach to the Raspberry Pi I/O ports to sense different operational factors such as temperature and machine status. These Raspberry Pi-based systems are IoT gateways that gather information and send that information to a centralized manufacturing operations team. Some of the Raspberry Pi systems include touch screens that simplify communications from manufacturing workers.

Although Knorr-Bremse is early in the process of deploying this solution to their manufacturing plants, the initial results made them confident enough to release this success story.

SUSE has a number of manufacturing and government agency customers implementing monitoring solutions based on SLES for Arm on the Raspberry Pi systems. All of them leverage the security and reliability of SUSE Linux as well as the SUSE Manager to deliver a monitoring solution that can be distributed in a wide range of environments. SLES for Arm on the Raspberry Pi uses the same common code base used for SLES on X86, Power, and mainframe servers. SUSE provides a SD-Card image with customers and use to quickly install SLES on the Raspberry Pi.

Customers can experiment with SLES for Arm on Raspberry Pi devices by using a free 60 day trial version of SLES for Arm: https://www.suse.com/products/server/download/.

Information on how developers can obtain a free Developer License for SLES for Arm can also be found here: https://www.suse.com/c/free-developer-subscriptions-for-suse-linux-on-arm-based-systems-are-now-available/

SUSE looks forward to helping other customers solve difficult problems using SUSE Linux with Raspberry Pi and other small devices. The combination of enterprise Linux with extremely low cost hardware can enable solutions to problems that previously were impractical to address.

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About Jay Kruemcke

Jay Kruemcke is passionate about helping customers and partners achieve their goals. Jay is a currently a Senior Product Manager at SUSE. Jay is responsible for the SUSE Linux for High-Performance Computing, Linux for Arm, and Linux for Power servers. Jay released the first commercially supported Linux distribution for Arm in 2016. Jay completely restructured SUSE’s HPC offerings in 2017 to add support for Arm systems, provide longer term support, and continue to enhance the HPC Module. The HPC Module provides support for open software such as slurm as part of the SUSE HPC subscription. Jay has built an extensive career in product management based on being a bridge between customers and engineering teams. He has extensive experience in many areas including product positioning, driving future product directions, using social media for client collaboration, and evangelizing the capabilities and future directions of enterprise products. Prior to joining SUSE, Jay had a long career at IBM including many roles in the Power and Cloud Engineering and Offering teams. In addition to his product management experience, Jay has held a variety of technology roles at including product marketing, manager of a technical architecture team, briefing center staff, SAP systems management consultant, and as a system programmer and administrator Jay also volunteers with the Boy Scouts in multiple roles and with ProductCamp Austin. The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of my employer. Follow me on twitter @mr_sles and @phastflyer
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