Meet Your IoT Development Deadlines Despite the Supply Chain

Supply chain disruptions have created havoc for many producers of industrial devices. But Digi has met the challenge to ensure off-the-shelf availability for our OEM customers.

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Recorded Webinar

Dec 06, 2022 | Length: 01:00:33

Supply chain disruptions have created havoc for many producers of industrial devices. But Digi has met the challenge to ensure off-the-shelf availability for our OEM customers.

Watch this webinar to learn how Digi has redesigned and recertified Digi XBee® wireless modules to ensure availability for OEMs and other customers. You’ll hear how Digi’s Wireless Design Services team can help expedite your redesign and certification process and about the key role of remote management in a complete IoT solution.

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Follow-up Webinar Q&A

Thank you again for attending our session on Meeting Your Development Deadlines Despite the Supply Chain. Here are the questions that followed the presentation and their answers. If you have additional questions, be sure to reach out.

Moderator: Ryan Chacon, Co-Creator and CMO, IoT for All

Presenters: Bob Blumenscheid, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Digi International and Kevin Eichhorst, Senior Principal Systems Design Engineer, Digi International

Did you mean to say that Digi essentially redesigned the Digi XBee® product to better match the supply chain, so retooling the product to rely more on what components were more readily available?

Bob: Yeah, that's a great question, and that's exactly what we did. We went to our partner, Silicon Labs, and said, "Hey, we need a bunch of these parts." And they said, "Well, we're just not able to ship those to you in the quantities you need." And we're using a lot of these. I mean, we passed 15 million XBees deployed worldwide.

So we talked to them about a different version of the microcontroller that we were using, and it had different parameters, different memory size, which is why the MicroPython is in there. But in the Digi XBee RR and others, we absolutely redesigned that product.

Is it compatible with other XBees?

Bob: Yes, it is. Same footprint, same AT commands. That's the beauty of the XBee, and the benefit of the XBee is it's a system that regardless of the connectivity, has the same software interface.

Are Digi XBee RR modules comparable to previous generations when it comes to range and selectivity?

Bob: Yes, absolutely, that is unchanged. In the 2.4 Gigahertz range, they are the same in terms of range and selectivity.

Is there a module of the XBee with a second bare metal user programmable MCU?

Bob: No. On the Digi XBee RR does not have programmability. The XBee 3 family, which is in short supply, has a microcontroller. And we've enabled pipe MicroPython programming on that, but not bare metal programming.

Will there be a sub-gigahertz support in the XBee RR?Will there be a sub-gigahertz support in the XBee RR?

Bob: Yeah, good question. We are working on our sub-gigahertz line to refresh it as well. So the XBee RR is strictly 2.4 gigahertz short-range mesh, but we are working on the 968-megahertz modules to do the same redesign in the same availability.

When your Wireless Design Services develop a product for a company, who owns that IP?

Kevin: Oh, that's a good question. The client does. They pay for it. At the end of the project, we give them a complete documentation set so that they can either take the design and add to it, or take it to somebody else for manufacturing, or however that works out. But, yeah, at the end, they own everything.

When are the Cat M1/NB-IoT 2G fallback modules going to be available?

Bob: Yeah, great question. Q1 of '23, and we're finishing the last stages of those.

Can XBee RR be a drop-in replacement for the XBee 3 24Z8UT in certain instances?

Bob: Good question, and I have to confess that I don't know that particular one. But we can get an answer for you for that.

Can we expect internal antenna in XBee RR modules?

Bob: Let me go back to the different footprints. Yes. So there the picture shows, the U.FLs on there. But we do have versions that include antennas directly on the module.

If I'm planning to deploy IoT in somewhat remote or disjointed sets of geographies, can Digi help me line up wireless capacity providers?

Bob: Yes. I think you're talking about cellular there. And, yes, we have relationships across the world, and we can do that to provide that connectivity.

With Wireless Design Services, do they require companies to have to do 100% of the design, or what if somebody just needs a portion done? How do you approach those situations?

Kevin: Yeah, that's a good question. It comes up a lot. Our motto is, "We'll do as much or as little as you need." In a lot of cases, we may be only doing an antenna design for a customer or they may want us to do what a real popular option is for things like with our system on modules is we'll develop the carrier board, the harbor for it, and a board support package, and then the client provides the application. So as much or as little as you need — we're pretty flexible.

You mentioned the custom antenna piece. When do you, or when do companies usually need to venture down doing custom antenna design? What is their criteria? Are there typical situations? How is that approached?

Kevin: Yeah. Usually there are a couple of different reasons. One is space. You just can't get an off-the-shelf antenna to fit in the space that you've got allocated. That's one. But a lot of times we have clients where their production volumes are going exceed 10,000 units. Then doing things like a PCB trace antenna, for instance. It costs a quarter of a cent to put a PCB trace antenna directly into the copper of the board itself versus a buck, or two bucks, or depending on what you're gonna pay for an antenna. It's a huge cost savings for volume. And in a lot of cases, we have to do that just to get performance. Where, like I said, for things that are space limited, you just can't get the performance with something that will fit off-the-shelf.

Can you help with certifications in any country, or is it specific to certain regions?

Kevin: We can pretty much do every country. I think we've been in over 100 different countries around the world for certifications.

We've got a wide network of agents that are on the ground, so a lot of places where you have to have a local agent that works with the agency to be able to carry all the paperwork, and the units to be tested, and all those kinds of things. They want to work with somebody locally in-country. We've got all those networks set up, but we've been literally on every continent.

Does the XBee RR support 900 megahertz for long-range connections?

Bob: No, it doesn't, and it's strictly 2.4 Gigahertz mesh, but come see us for 900 megahertz varieties.

Regarding the XBee 3 modules, are they EOL, and does the XBee RR replace them.

Bob: The XBee 3 modules, which include MicroPython edge intelligence, are not EOL, They're just in short supply. But we'll continue to provide long-term availability for the XBee 3 and the XBee RR.

What is the planned long-term availability for the XBee RR?

Bob: Typically, Digi keeps our components in production for as long as we can once we release it, and the XBee RR fits into that plan. We strive for 10 years after introducing it. We use components that our suppliers commit to for long-term availability, so it's part of our long-term availability plan.

For anyone who wants to follow up, ask questions, learn more, what's the best place to do that?

Bob: If you go to the Digi website, there are different ways to contact Digi in North America and worldwide, on our Contact Us page. We have a complete sales team, and an FAE team. So if you do send in a question, that'll be responded to quickly. If you have specific questions for WDS, the salesperson can direct those questions straight to them as well. And, you know, if you have questions from me, I mean, I'm bob.blumenscheid@digi.com, so I'll be happy to take an email from anybody.

Kevin: You can also directly send an email to me for wireless design services questions at, kevin.eichhorst@digi.com.

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