Edge computing for manufacturers

Issue 9 2020 Industrial (Industry)

In the years since cloud computing has become the norm, another phenomenon has taken over which promises to overcome the drawbacks of off-site data processing: edge computing. This more recent technological trend has become quite the buzzword, boasting faster data analysis, lower latency, and reliable delivery of IT capabilities in extremely close proximity to the operation.

Jonathan Duncan.

This is ideal for manufacturers looking to take advantage of technology innovations such as data analytics, digital twin, artificial intelligence, and autonomous robotics which require new age computing tools. In the quest for achieving a smart manufacturing process, edge computing is key as it offers real-time response, mobility, and high security.

But can edge computing work when the ‘operation’ is not a clean data centre or business environment, but a more chaotic and dynamic manufacturing facility? There are often concerns over reliability, security, and continuity in manufacturing environments, which may hinder the adoption of the new IT systems. Downtime is something no manufacturer can afford, as it impacts productivity, profitability, customer experience, and even a manufacturer’s brand reputation.

In fact, in the era of Industry 4.0, downtime can be considered to become even more expensive as manufacturing processes are increasingly automated and integrated. The more we depend on edge computing in automation processes, the more important it is to prevent failures or shutdowns of the IT systems.

Therefore, in order to prevent downtime, organisations need to make the right investments to ensure their critical processes are ‘always on’. Choosing IT enclosures designed for manufacturing environments and investing in proper power and cooling infrastructure can address the unique challenges of edge IT deployments in manufacturing environments.

IT personnel need to introduce resilient edge computing solutions into manufacturing environments. Resilient solutions take advantage of existing best practices implemented in typical IT environments for the past several decades. These solutions also need to adopt unique best practices for deployment in manufacturing environments. If manufacturers can consider the below five points, they will be on their way to a resilient and reliable edge computing application.

1. Choose IT enclosures designed for manufacturing environments.

2. Use an effective power protection and cooling approach.

3. Implement cybersecurity best practices.

4. Invest in monitoring and management software.

5. Leverage an ecosystem of partners to provide complete edge IT solutions.

If this sounds complicated, fear not. Schneider Electric has put together further helpful details in a white paper. With a strong track record of industrial edge computing applications, we are ready to help you on your smart manufacturing journey.

There can be no doubt that Industry 4.0 is a game changer that will further automate industrial processes. Edge computing is an integral part of the system, enabling reliable delivery of IT capabilities in manufacturing environments. Concerns over downtime should not hold you back from innovation – a solution is available to ensure you remain productive and competitive.

To download the white paper, go to www.securitysa.com/*se1, which redirects to https://download.schneider-electric.com/files?p_File_Name=WP287_V1_EN.pdf&p_Doc_Ref=SPD_WP287_EN&p_enDocType=White%20Paper


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