Issue: Mar 2009


AI interview with Marcel Visser, vice president, automotive division of Cinterion Wireless Modules



by Alan Tran

INTERVIEW - Cinterion Wireless Modules, formerly Siemens Wireless Modules, is the global leader in cellular GSM based machine-to-machine communication devices, applications, and solutions. Cinterion offers a broad portfolio of innovative modules designed for a wide range of applications, including remote maintenance, e-toll systems, metering, automotive applications, POS systems, teleservices, industrial PDAs, routers and gateways, security systems, as well as tracking and tracing. The global enterprise is headquartered in Munich, Germany and has approximately 450 employees worldwide.

Cinterion has long been the driving force for successful and innovative wireless solutions for automotive applications. Cinterion automotive grade products are designed to meet the demanding special requirements of automotive applications and offer specific, optimized features as well as compliance with all relevant quality standards such as development and manufacturing according to TS 16949. 

Cinterion recently announced its 6th generation of dedicated automotive grade modules, the AC65i and AC75i, which were designed to meet the specific requirements of the European e-Call initiative and add advanced telematics functionality. The new modules are ideal for applications such as toll collect solutions, telematics applications, fleet management, emergency call and roadside assistance solutions, which often must operate seamlessly across country and network borders. Both modules are fully type approved for worldwide GSM networks, which hastens the time to market for customers. The AC65i and AC75i modules will be available for mass production at the end of Q1 2009.

In addition to Cinterion’s standard automotive module features, which include antenna diagnostics, remote SIM access profile, RLS monitoring, RIL software for Microsoft® Windows Mobile™ based devices and advanced temperature management, the new modules integrate a powerful ARM9™ processor for embedded onboard processing. Together with integrated large memory capacity, the new modules offer the ideal platform for sophisticated telematics applications. The new Cinterion modules are fully prepared to be upgraded to meet the new requirements of the European e-Call initiative.
In addition, they are compliant with all relevant quality standards including TS 16949 and are listed in the International Material Data System (IMDS).

“As the market leader with an unmatched global approach, Cinterion Wireless Modules is in the pole-position to actively shape the fast-growing M2M market,” says Norbert Muhrer, CEO of Cinterion. “Last year we gained business entity independence from Siemens and added two more strong points that are crucial for business success - flexibility and speed. And that is on top of our traditional strengths, such as an innovative portfolio, a farsighted road map, and first-class international customer support.”

“When employed in road networks, Cinterion’s GSM technology helps improve the flow of traffic and makes it possible to use intelligent telematics services that improve drivers’ safety, provide them with information, and allow their vehicles to be maintained more efficiently,” said Marcel Visser, vice president of Cinterion Wireless Modules automotive sector and responsible for managing the automotive business segment worldwide.

“Latest navigation systems and emergency call systems incorporated in vehicles including wireless communications enable new services such as eCall, breakdown or roadside assistance,” Visser further explained.

Automotive Industries spoke to Marcel Visser, vice president, automotive division of Cinterion Wireless Modules in greater detail.

AI: Tell us about Cinterion’s experience and strategy for dedicated wireless modules for the automotive applications.

From the beginning, Cinterion has been the driving force for automotive wireless product innovation. In 1997 we launched the industry’s 1st dedicated GSM automotive module - the A1. For more than 10 years now, we’ve applied our vast experience and engineering intelligence to continue innovating new automotive features and functionality. We are committed to expanding our portfolio of dedicated automotive grade products – all of which offer outstanding quality, reliability and global deployment. In addition, Cinterion has established market leading tools and processes to support our automotive customers including special hardware design capabilities, such as special thermal design and intelligent temperature management. Both are essential for reliable, rugged and durable products that meet the demanding requirements of automotive applications.

In addition Cinterion provides comprehensive development support for our customer applications along with all necessary certifications and execution of supplier specific test cases and audits.

We have also pioneered innovative software features specifically for the automotive environment, such as remote SIM access and antenna detection to help our customers optimize manufacturing process. And once again, we are ahead of the game and leading the industry by launching our next generation automotive products, theAC65i and the AC75i designed to meet industry demand for eCall functionality.

As you can see, Cinterion is a forward facing company committed to product evolution and expansion with a focus always on the horizon of business needs. For example, one year ago we had already successfully executed and shared our special eCall test environment resulting in essential experience and expertise which has been incorporated in our recent automotive products.

Over the years, we have built long-term relationships with our customers supporting them with several generations of our automotive grade modules. Our customers recognize our dedication and expertise, which is why they continue to rely on us for an automotive product roadmap they can count on to meet technological evolution and the upcoming needs of future automotive applications.

AI: What makes the automotive environment so special in the overall M2M segment. How do you address those special requirements ?

The wireless technology requirements of automotive industry applications are more complex and comprehensive compared to other M2M applications. Network availability, product lifecycle management, as well as environmental requirements such as temperature and shock resistance have to be seriously considered and planned for when designing an automotive grade module.

Cinterion has been designing GSM modules specialized for automotive applications for more than 10 years. Our experience provides unsurpassed depth of knowledge and engineering expertise that is applied to the special design challenges presented by automotive applications. We understood very early that the needs and requirements of the automotive industry required a specific design skill set. Accordingly, we developed a special division within our company devoted to innovating high-quality products to meet expanding technology needs of the automotive sector.

More than just ensuring seamless network handoff between carrier and country borders, our rugged automotive products are built to withstand excessive vibration, equipped for over the air updates to make servicing and upgrading equipment easier and they are designed for extended operating temperature ranges just to name a few key features. Cinterion automotive modules, like our entire product portfolio, are optimized to meet the specific demands of both the OEM and the end-user.

It is because of our experience, intelligence, market leading products and the local presence of our employees in all customer regions that Cinterion has been extremely successful in establishing long lasting partnerships with our valued automotive customers around the globe.

AI: What are some of the new automotive related products in the pipeline?

The latest generation of our dedicated automotive grade products are the AC65i and AC75i. Both will be available for mass production by the end of the 1st quarter of 2009. They are prepared for eCall and in addition to Cinterion’s standard automotive module features (antenna diagnostics, remote SIM access profile and advanced temperature management) the new modules integrate a powerful ARM9™ processor to run customer software applications directly on the module itself. The new modules share the same proven Cinterion M2M protocol stack as our classical M2M products and are fully type approved which hastens the time to market for customers. Delivering on our promise to continued innovation and dedication to this marketplace, Cinterion has plans for additional new automotive product launches this year. Stay tuned for more information on that!

AI: Please tell us about Cinterion’s foray into the US and other new markets.

The demand for automotive and telematics applications is growing around the world as success has been proven in the EU marketplace. To meet this demand, Cinterion expanded its presence in the Americas region adding management, sales and application engineering executives in the NAFTA region. This ensures that customer needs are met throughout the development process – from concept stage to deployment. Cinterion is committed to helping customers in the US and around the globe improve process and efficiency with smart M2M technology and swift implementation, which ultimately allows end-users to achieve ROI and improved operations more quickly than ever before.

In this challenging economic climate, Cinterion was proud to announce in January that it had record-breaking sales in 2008, exceeding $100 million for GSM/GPRS/EDGE and HSDPA modules in the Americas region. In response, Cinterion expanded its South American team and opened regional headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

From its origins to present, Cinterion is dedicated to expanding its market leadership based on its well-known differentiators of innovation, high quality, reliability, and direct global customer touch.

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