How edge processing leverages IIoT production data

Deploying edge processing for efficient data management boosts responsiveness, productivity, and flexibility on the factory floor. It is the key to enhanced IIoT competitiveness and ensuring the successful deployment of modern automation systems.

Jeremy Shinton, Product Manager at Mitsubishi Electric, considers how new  controllers manage the convergence of IT and OT to ensure optimal data management and connectivity.

Turning large data volumes from automation systems into intelligence shared with enterprise systems needs a new class of controller. The latest PLCs, machine controllers and industrial PCs built for IIoT applications use edge processing that supports high-speed data logging to the Cloud.

Beyond the factory floor

The Industrial Internet of Things is at the core of effective and futureproof production. It is a network of connected devices and systems from the factory floor to the enterprise system that generates and shares large volumes of data. The goal is to create unique actionable manufacturing intelligence to improve production and plant activities for increased productivity and flexibility. Businesses that leverage the power of data will succeed in enhancing their competitive edge as markets change.

Successful IIoT applications rely on automation controllers with the power to analyse data close to its point of generation. State-of-the-art PLCs, like Mitsubishi Electric’s MELSEC iQ-R series, address these needs by featuring powerful processors and large data handling capabilities.

PLCs with direct connections to the cloud using common protocols are a growing trend. The ‘connect everything’ idea means that controllers can be anywhere in the world and act like a ‘data pump’ to higher level cloud platforms. PLC modules hosting operating systems like Linux enable open-source functionality for installation into these environments. These new PLC capabilities open the door to IIoT applications in all industries.

Businesses need non-stop solutions to bridge the divide between IT and OT, and this represents the next step in ensuring productive and responsive plants.

Edge processing

Edge processing must support data analysis for time-critical operations and production-based analytics, but also less urgent processing-intensive data mining.

Mitsubishi Electric’s MELIPC Edge processing solution offers an ideal IT/OT merger to support both on and off-site data analytics. Using real-time analytics and AI, it processes data locally to combine shop floor expertise with diagnostics and predictive maintenance feedback. Moreover, it delivers production system decisions based on key data. MELIPC also pre-processes and aggregates data for higher-level insights. Using its onboard OPC UA connectivity to share the information between different platforms improves plant operations.

The benefit of this hybrid solution over conventional Cloud-based systems is the  secure and reliable connection and ecosystem. Well regulated industries, such as the pharmaceutical sector, can enjoy innovative data mining capabilities while still meeting regulatory compliance.

On-board with IIoT controllers

An IIoT system using advanced controllers and high-performance edge processing with powerful connectivity features enhances entire manufacturing operations to ensure long-term productivity.