The automotive industry is undergoing two major paradigm shifts that each will demand more involvement from the distribution channel. The first of these is the race to more fuel efficiency for vehicles that will be coming down the pike in the future. By 2025, automotive fuel efficiency must reach an average of 54.5 miles per gallon. This, combined with tighter emission regulations is creating room for new entrants in the transportation sector. The second shift goes hand-in-hand with the first – and that’s the consumer’s insatiable appetite for technology, and while it goes beyond new vehicles, it is affecting this space to a significant degree. We see a resurgence in the aftermarket that, much like fuel economy and emissions, is bringing new players with new ideas and applications to forefront. And, wherever there is a broad market of companies with innovative ideas and applications: you will find distribution.
Tighter emission requirements combined with ever-increasing fuel efficiency standards have given rise to new players on the scene when it comes to transportation. It might be surprising to note that while distribution provides supply chain support to the spectacular successes that capture the headlines, there is more to this revolution in what we broadly call automotive. Distribution sales and design teams are also hard at work supporting companies that make electric motorcycles that get up to 137 miles on a charge. What about customers that develop street legal golf carts? The technologies that will drive wide adoption of electric technologies in transportation, like charging stations both in home and elsewhere are an area of renewed investment and a perfect match for the channel’s broad array of technologies, support and logistic services. Even though the diversity of players on the automotive scene are the ones that get all the press for good or ill, what about all of the existing cars trucks and motorcycles on the road today? There are a plethora of applications being brought to market by a wide array of companies that bring some of the most modern technology to cars already on the road and the channel is right there every step of the way.
Take the many automotive applications of computer vision. The channel supports many different types of products in this area. With everything from backup cameras to lane detection, and blind spot warning systems – there is almost no limit to what could be developed. One highly successful development kit in recent years has been has recently been updated by Avnet and Analog Devices to help satisfy the explosion of applications relying on vision in some form (both for automotive and otherwise) -- Avnet’s Blackfin Embedded Vision Starter Kit. This kit features the FinBoard and combines a versatile hardware platform with the necessary software development tools to enable the building of high performance, embedded vision systems. It is based on the low-cost, dual core Blackfin BF609 processor and is ideal for exploring advanced video analytics. Avnet also became a member of the Embedded Vision Alliance which seeks to advance the use of computer vision in industry in general. As their mission states, “The primary goal of the Embedded Vision Alliance is to inspire and empower embedded system designers to use embedded vision technology. A key means of achieving this goal is providing system design engineers with the practical know-how they need in order to effectively incorporate embedded vision technology into their designs”.
Investments like these are examples of where the channel can take advantage of access to key technologies that apply to many applications, and accelerate the success of our customers. Of course vision is just one of the many application areas that the channel is helping bring to market.
While vision is a specific area around which many automotive applications are being devised, there are many others. In fact it is this diversity of applications and companies working on those products that make it an ideal place for the channel to be supportive. Whether it is general education on low power ARM architectures or demonstrating the innovations in the embedded computing space, servicing a broad customer segment with similar interests and needs, but diverse end uses is what the channel today is all about. In the Americas alone, the channel supports hundreds of automotive and transportation customers and their designs. Automotive is more than the big guys, it is made up of hundreds of companies driving innovation across the segment and the support teams of distribution are keeping the wheels rolling.