The Birth of Edge Computing

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is all about connecting and sharing data between physical devices to monitor and control outcomes. With smart devices becoming the norm for production facilities, there is more data available on the fringe or edge or our industrial networks. In fact, according to IHS Markit data, they are forecasting that by 2021 there will be 252 million smart devices shipped:

IoT Device Charts

Adapted from IHS Markit

Edge computing was born out of the idea of leveraging the IIoT concept on the manufacturing floor.

What is edge computing?

Edge computing is the collection and crunching of data on the manufacturing floor close to the actual devices. It’s about moving your data to the edge of your network. Let’s back up a minute. What do I mean by the edge of your network? Traditionally, you store all of your data in large data centers, or perhaps your data is in the cloud. Once your information is stored, you can make reports or run algorithms to make decisions.

Why not move that analysis to the production floor? With the concept of edge computing, you can use an edge appliance on the floor to collect and analyze data.

Why would you want to utilize edge computing?

Increase data visibility: Giving operations the ability to see what’s happening can prevent issues and optimize your operating efficiencies by allowing real-time data-analysis. If a problem is occurring on your floor, why not resolve it sooner than later and optimize your production? Operations will improve by reducing the reaction time to alarms and events, preventing unplanned downtime.

Decrease your network traffic: Edge computing gives you the ability to crunch data locally and send a smaller amount of data to the cloud, eliminating a lot of network traffic. Why not leave your network bandwidth to the things that matter?

Augmented reality: If you were at Automation Fair in the fall, you might have seen the Rockwell Automation® PTC augmented reality demo. It may seem futuristic, but it’s closer than you think! For augmented reality to work well, the data needs to be accessible locally and quickly.

Does this mean I don’t need data centers and cloud storage?

Not at all! The edge will still send information to data centers and clouds for analysis and reporting along with a myriad of other data sources. Also, there will always be a need to report and analyze things later to satisfy regulatory agencies, allow for flexible business models, and to drive profitability. The cloud and data centers are here to stay.

How do you get started with moving your data to the edge?

Start by learning more from Stratus Technology: Stratus ztC Edge Computing Platform.

We Can Help You Balance on the Edge

Do you need help figuring out how you can go from where you are to living life on the edge? We’re here to help. Contact the Horizon Solutions Process team today!

Are you ready to take computing to the edge? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Marcia Pohl
Marcia Pohl

Marcia is a respected Software Engineer with extensive experience in project engineering, product management and batch process control. She joined Horizon Solutions in June of 2016 as our Process Solutions Business Manager. Marcia has over 20 years of experience in the industry–including dedicated time with chemical, food & beverage, and pharmaceutical end users.