Why edge computers are important for manufacturing

A cornerstone of the Industrial Internet of Things IIoT is the digitisation of manufacturing and the collection and analysis of large data sets. Edge computers offer fast and efficient ways to process and analyse data close to the point where decisions are made.

Whereas cloud computing revolutionised the way we store and process data, some applications need faster processing and real-time analysis. Yet this may not be possible or convenient when using a centralised cloud architecture.

Where applications are time-sensitive, the computing resources supporting it need low-latency processing and fast response times. Edge computers can help to address this need by bringing computing resources closer to the point of use. They do does this by reducing the volume of data sent to the centralised cloud servers, thereby reducing bandwidth cost, and improving overall efficiency.

Edge computers also complement cloud computing by supplying a decentralised architecture to handle real-time processing and analysis of data. Edge computing and cloud computing can work together to create a hybrid computing environment that takes advantage of the benefits of both. Analysing data in the cloud then allows more time to use critical analytical tools like AI and machine learning (ML).

Computing at the edge reduces latency, bandwidth usage, and other network-related issues by processing data close to the point of generation. From there it goes to a central data centre or cloud environment for further processing and storage. The edge provides faster response times, improved reliability, and reduces network congestion and lowers data storage and transmission costs

Why not use an industrial PC instead?

In practice, edge computers are a special type of ruggedised computing device suitable for harsh environments. They have a small form factor, lower power consumption, and use passive cooling. This makes them simple to integrate into machines and cheaper to run. Moreover, their hardware and software are optimised for low-latency processing and real-time data analysis.

Their robust design also helps reduce system downtime and minimise maintenance needs. Importantly, their onboard security features such as hardware-based encryption and secure boot help to protect against cyber threats.

What is driving the growth of edge computers?

The drivers are a combination of technological advancements, changing business needs, and evolving user expectations. A driver in the growth of edge computing comes from the large data sets generated by IIoT compatible devices and the need to process that data in real time. It also ensures the security and integrity of business confidential information.

For the first time it allows businesses to integrate legacy and third party equipment onto their IIoT structure. It also makes the OT data available to the IT infrastructure.

Remember, if you are not at the edge, you are taking up too much space. See our ranges from Advantech, Mitsubishi Electric, Schneider Electric and Wago.




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