In the manufacturing industry, the introduction of cutting-edge IT technologies, such as AI and IoT, are improving production efficiency and product quality – progressing quickly toward smart technology. As the amount of data increases, real-time analysis often becomes difficult. The amount of data transmitted via networks also increases, creating new challenges such as delays in operations. Therefore, Edge Computing is being leveraged to solve the problems that arise in smart factories. In this blog, we’ll talk about how Edge Computing solves problems for smart factories, improves production efficiency, and improves product quality.
What is Edge Computing?
The “edge” in Edge Computing refers to the edge or perimeter of operations, and Edge Computing refers to the technology that performs crucial real-time data processing at the edge of a computer network – in addition to smartphones and personal computers. Edge Computing is a distributed architecture mechanism in which data processing and analysis are performed by IoT terminals, such as surveillance cameras and sensors, or by servers.
Why Edge Computing Is Hot in Manufacturing
There are several reasons why Edge Computing is gaining attention in the manufacturing industry, with the biggest reason being smart factories. The introduction of AI and IoT in these factories as a measure to improve operational efficiency and resolve labor shortages is in turn increasing the amount of data being processed.
Conventionally, large amounts of data have been processed by utilizing cloud computing. However, there are many cases in which there is a significant time lag when sending data over the Internet, processing and analyzing it, and then returning it, ultimately causing a delay in operations. Edge Computing is being introduced as a solution to eliminate this time lag.
With Edge Computing, instead of sending all data to the cloud, the devices at the edge of operations do the processing and send only the necessary data to the cloud. As a result, it reduces the load on the cloud and networks and suppresses delays, achieving efficient operations. Edge Computing also eliminates the need to exchange all data over the Internet, reducing security risks. It is also immune to network failures and increases availability.
For more information about Edge Computing, please read:
Why is Edge Computing attracting attention – What are the differences compared to the cloud and on-premises?
Advantages of Edge Computing at Manufacturing Sites
The main advantages of using Edge Computing in the manufacturing industry are as follows:
Enables real-time data processing
As processing can be done without delay at the site where the data is generated, when immediate action is required that work can be done right away.
Distributed processing reduces both the load and costs on networks and data centers
By leveraging Edge Computing, organizations shift from the typical centralized form of data processing at a data center to a distributed processing system.
The load on the network and data center is significantly reduces by dividing the processing of real-time data, such as defect detection prediction – which is processed at the edge, and data that doesn’t need to be processed in real-time, such as production control reports and daily reports – which is sent to the cloud. By sending only the necessary data to the cloud, it reduces communication costs and data center usage costs.
Enhancing information security and leading to BCP measures
By utilizing Edge Computing, organizations can process data at the edge that should not be sent outside the factory. Information security is strengthened as there is no need to send all data to the cloud. It’s also possible to distribute and store data in multiple IoT devices and edge devices, which is an effective BCP (Business Continuity Plan) measure.
Another advantage of using Edge Computing is that it is less susceptible to network failures, so high availability can be easily obtained.
Disadvantages of Using Edge Computing at Manufacturing Sites
There are many advantages for leveraging Edge Computing in the manufacturing industry, but there are also some disadvantages. Some of the main ones are:
Increased effort to manage and maintain edge devices
As the number of edge devices – such as personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices – increases, management and maintenance of them becomes time-consuming. Another disadvantage is the increased cost of introducing these devices.
In addition, Edge Computing collects and processes all kinds of data in the factory. As a result, you run the risk of duplicating data across devices. It’s necessary to keep this in mind when implementing an Edge Computing platform, so that data management doesn’t become complicated.
Requires security measures in the factory
As devices containing various data are placed in the factory, it’s necessary to take security measures to prevent a data leak and loss, such as thorough device operation rules and regular maintenance.
Platform Requirements for Utilizing Edge Computing in the Manufacturing Industry
There are platform requirements when leveraging Edge Computing in the manufacturing industry – below find some of the following:
A server that can operate in a factory environment
Although it depends on the products being manufactured, many factories face challenges such as a lot of dust or difficulty regulating temperature and humidity. General servers are vulnerable to dust and humidity, and in some cases do not work properly. Therefore, it is important to choose a server that can operate stably in those kinds of environments.
A server with performance that can handle advanced analysis
It is necessary to consider server performance. If the server does not have the capability to handle advanced analysis such as AI and machine learning, the introduction of Edge Computing cannot be expected to be highly effective.
A server with abundant security functions and easy operation
At many factory sites, it is often not possible to set up a server room with advanced security measures. There are also many cases where there is no dedicated IT staff at the site, and the operational load is then placed on the person in charge of the manufacturing department. Edge Computing handles confidential data collected from manufacturing lines, etc., so it is important to select a simple server with enhanced security functions and a low operational load.
The Point of Introducing Edge Computing is Server Selection
Edge Computing is a technology that processes data at the edge of a computer network. In addition to smartphones and personal computers, it is a distributed architecture mechanism that processes and analyzes data with IoT terminals or servers.
In the manufacturing industry, factories are becoming smarter in order to improve operational efficiency and address labor shortages.
To process data within a factory, the management of various devices and the selection of a server that easily integrates them are essential for improving results.
It is crucial to operate stably in a factory environment, have the performance to support AI analysis, and have a full range of security functions. When deploying Edge Computing, choose your servers carefully so that you can reap the rewards.