In the first of the “Living on the Edge” blog series we discussed the challenges faced by organisations embracing IoT and similar technologies. These barriers are not insurmountable – and the benefits for doing so are considerable. In this second instalment we outline some of the reasons why your business should be investing in edge computing.
Facilitate true autonomy
Automating production lines has been instrumental in helping to reduce costs and maximise output. But most systems are only capable of operating according to a narrow set of pre-defined rules.
Industry 4.0 demands that automation is not only quicker, but also smarter. By moving data processing capabilities to the edge, it becomes possible to implement real-time autonomy.
Autonomous systems are not only faster, but with the application of machine learning can be trained to make “intelligent” decision.
Improve production quality
By removing humans from the equation, autonomous systems are not only faster, but also more consistent. There is far less potential for human error to affect output.
This is nothing new; consider automation of production lines which was a hallmark of the original Industrial Revolution. What has changed is the introduction of autonomy using computing at the edge.
Consistently high-quality output, increased efficiency and faster decision making will help to reduce costs and increase margins.
Better manage data growth
IoT sensors generate enormous amounts of data, placing additional pressure on your network and storage infrastructure. Processing incoming data at the edge allows you to not only action information in real time, but also to better manage what happens next.
With edge computing you can decide whether data is passed back into back-end systems for further processing analysis, archived to the cloud or discarded entirely. Managing data at the edge will help to constrain data growth by ensuring information is moved to the most appropriate location.
Avoid downtime and production bottlenecks
Sensors provide real time insights into system health – but the data they generate can also be analysed to reveal trends over the longer term. Edge computing provides a mechanism to identify the early warning signs of an impending system failure for instance.
These insights can then be used to proactively schedule maintenance cycles for instance. Rather than delaying repairs and inspections until it is too late, you can carry out a maintenance routine that prevents a full system failure and actually improves operations and out in advance.
Realise your data-driven ambitions
Digital transformation is fully reliant on the way that your business handles and actions data. Edge computing provides real-time autonomy at the very point where your products are being produced or customers engaged.
Edge computing will also instrumental in helping you apply insights generated from other activities. Without the necessary systems at key interfaces, you will be unable to properly action the findings of your big data analytics efforts. With the right edge computing infrastructure in place, these benefits (and more) become available to almost any business.