L to computing edge (edge computing) is an expression of quite fashionable. If you ask any computer company if they do edge computing, the most likely answer is yes. The word remain so overused that, in many cases, it has almost lost its meaning, simply meaning, ” Yes, we have an industrial PC somewhere, with a program running .” But this, in reality, does not reflect the essence of edge computing and, without a doubt, does not reach its full innovative potential, mainly in industrial applications.

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The Age of Cloud Computing

The history of computing shows various waves of local versus centralized data processing. In recent years, there has remained a strong trend towards cloud computing: data management and computing are moving to large centralized areas of servers, while personal computers remained limited to hosting a web browser.

The benefits of managing data in the cloud are clear:

  • Quick and easy software updates, as they can remain managed from a centralized source;
  • A global and integrated vision of all the workflows and teams connected to the cloud, which allows making decisions both at a worldwide and local level;
  • A central place with all the data for further optimizations.

Data Management Limitations

on the cloud

But this bright new future also has its downsides. With the overall transition to IoT and cloud-connected machinery and logistics, new challenges await us. Today, when real things, such as cars, buildings and turbines, come equipped with a digital twin, more data remain collected for processing in cloud data management applications.

For example, if vibrations in a machine get out of control, they can easily cause a chain reaction, capable of disabling the entire production line. Consequently, modern control systems come with an increasing number of sensors placed in the machine’s key parts, which are in charge of detecting these vibrations and sending their data to the operating system, in the cloud, for continuous analysis and specificity. Imagine all these little sensors producing data in an industrial production environment – the data load is enormous.

And that is where one of the main challenges of managing data in the cloud appears. If you are working with data processing in the cloud,

There are likely to be several drawbacks:

  • Physical limitations of data transfer (still bits and bytes cannot travel faster than light!);
  • Dependence on network availability (when the network goes down, control and optimization from the cloud also goes down);
  • Data loading (even at high speed, a data transfer of this magnitude is too slow);
  • Data privacy (there is data that industrial companies do not feel comfortable sharing in the cloud);
  • Cybersecurity (the transfer of data within systems in the cloud always offers a vulnerability to theft. So the transfer of data in systems that operate in the cloud remain generally confined to uploading data. Since the download is still more sensitive to cyberattacks).

Handling a large data load is easier when the data remain processed locally. Are we ready for a revival? Is the wave of computing history reversing towards local data processing? Yes and no. And that’s where edge computing comes in.

Edge Computing

The computing edge is not new. The biggest players in computing, such as Cisco, have used it for years and its sister in fog (fog). The real innovation has to do with the latest integration with industrial production processes and their optimization within systems that operate in the cloud.

Edge applications, such as Analyze MyWorkpiece, offer the ability to collect and analyze data close to where it devises within the production process. For example, Siemens remain also integrated with MindSphere. An operating system from IoT in the cloud. In edge computing, data processing is not exclusive to the core of the cloud. Still, it fundamentally occurs at the periphery, the edge of the Internet, where it comes into contact with the physical world.

Integrating edge computing in industrial clouds enables us to take advantage of the benefits of cloud systems. Such as quick and easy software updates while taking advantage of local data processing, at the same time, such as data security, rapid application reactions and the control environment within an industrial production process.

Why is Industrial Edge Computing the Solution?

There is a lot of enthusiasm for industrial edge computing, even though a few concerns arise:

  • The risks of implementing digitization;
  • The acquisition of a niche solution with little scalability;
  • Investing in a prototype that doesn’t work for all machines.

But with industrial edge applications, these concerns are easy to address. They offer fully integrated, deployable, and cost-effective solutions on critical issues such as maintaining privacy and dealing with heavy data loads, achieving the improvements promised by digitization while leveraging data management in the cloud.

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