Edge Computing and its importance in smart production

Edge Computing is a system of micro data centres that are installed at the edge of the network, allowing efficient processing of data locally and close to the source.

Applied to enterprise facilities, such as production plants, this infrastructure can be hosted by service providers and greatly improve connectivity. This streamlines the cloud process, providing instant processing and analysis, with greater analytical speed.

In this post we will summarise the most relevant benefits for the industry and explain how it works in a series of real cases.

The relationship between Edge Computing and Cloud Computing

Both edge and cloud architectures can come in various forms. In Cloud Computing, data or processing is offloaded to servers hosted in a remote data centre (public, private or hybrid).

In Edge Computing, the data or data processing is offloaded to non-traditional data centres, closer to the end-user in terms of geographical and network proximity. This facilitates the ability to deliver levels of latency and throughput that are not possible with Cloud Computing.

Edge Computing is therefore an extension of the Cloud, and together they form one of the pillars of Industry 4.0. When configured in complementary ways, they combine to provide a specialised process experience that is especially needed in remote locations where connectivity is limited or non-existent.

Benefits of Edge Computing for Industry

Industrial Edge Computing connects all assets used in manufacturing, oil and gas, energy and many other industrial processes. It has three main components:

  • Edge connectivity: with the ability to connect to any industrial system and collect/normalise data for immediate use.
  • Edge intelligence: with the ability to concentrate edge data processing and analysis capabilities to get maximum value from data sources.
  • Edge orchestration: with the ability to build, deploy, manage and update edge applications.

When all three components are unified, not only is maximum value extracted from data, but application orchestration is greatly improved and application execution times are reduced, with machine learning as an example.

Most valuable benefits of Edge Computing for industry:

  • Improve process quality: the ability to make real-time decisions, integrate optimised data and handle complex data source analysis can drive the quality of industrial processes to a new level. Machines and plant will be analysed flexibly and accurately.
  • Ultra-low latency: its potential to reduce latency dramatically increases the benefits of IoT considerably. It is essential for the interconnected system to function properly and to be able to respond critically to any malfunctions.
  • High bandwidth: Edge Computing speeds up the process of downloading and analysing data, allowing each data point to process its own information. This reduces storage costs and stress on individual systems, optimising the process of sifting through and finding the most relevant information.
  • Interoperability and improved flexibility: Edge Computing serves as a connecting point between information and operational technologies. Its ability to process devices in a cohesive manner removes the barrier to integrating compatible systems and technologies. In addition, constant upgrades ensure a steady flow of innovations and reduce time to market.
  • More reliable storage: By distributing processing and storage functions around the perimeter, cyber-attacks have no chance of taking down the entire network. The proximity of computing to the data source decreases data risk and ensures robust cyber security.

Edge Computing can be the real-time, event-driven integration layer between your factory data and your business systems. They will help you accelerate and automate processes, extracting full value from digital information.

Industrial Edge Computing use cases

The high importance of Edge Computing is reflected in more and more industrial use cases. The edge drives preventive maintenance, condition-based monitoring, OEE, vision systems, quality improvements and more.

They can also drive more advanced use cases such as artificial intelligence and machine learning in the cloud. The smart perimeter is driving significant operations and process improvements, here are some of these scenarios.

  • Predictive maintenance by improving equipment uptime: the transfer of speed, temperature and volume data on a machine provides real-time information about its status and productivity. If faults or frequent peaks in any of the variables, such as temperature, are detected, the supervisor can take preventative measures to avoid downtime.
  • Increased production and manufacturing flexibility as a service: Manufacturing can be made more flexible and mobile by reducing the time it takes to set up a site and by creating more shared-use models where multiple parties can use the same facility. To achieve this, the required network infrastructure needs to be deployed and can be run on an Edge Computing structure.
  • Real-time automation boost: Edge Computing can be integrated to eliminate processing and communication time delays to drive real-time automation. This encourages the creation of an autonomous, automatically operating factory.

Complete your transition to Industry 4.0 with Nexus Integra

Edge computing is the concept of hosting IT processes as close to the data source as possible. Instead of relying on distant data centres, it uses local infrastructure to process data. It takes the cloud and brings it to the hardware already located around you.

By implementing Edge Computing with the integrated Nexus Integra platform, you can make the best industrial decisions. Its big data features, digital twin applications and machine learning, will allow data scientists to compare historical trends and data in real time.

Nexus Integra can help your business optimize your production processes to be more competitive. Contact us so we can tell you more.