Nowadays, new paradigms as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems (CPS) together with the recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have revolutionized modern industry. AI certainly incorporates new technological elements increasing the complexity and the accuracy of the algorithms reaching new levels with self-learning algorithms. This lead to obtain greater operational transparency and more digitally automated processes and workflows.
On the other hand, IoT has allowed to interconnect millions of devices and machines to the industrial networks. Thus, reaching new levels in cost-benefit by improving management and maintenance. Also, the deployments of IoT networks are more and more efficient now and new use cases have been brought into reach. Use cases such as: condition monitoring (e.g. assets, plants, or other networked production sites), predictive analytics, predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, scheduling and digital quality control.
As a result, the overall number of industrial applications based on new digital technologies continue to rise. But these millions of elements interconnected and running complex AI based algorithm need to be managed and controlled. For this, new technologies have emerged such Cloud computing and Edge computing. These technologies allow to efficiently manage the large amount of data generated by sensors, actuators and controllers located in the different asset improving the production processes.
Cloud computing becomes an enabler and an essential factor that helps enterprises to complete the digital transformation process. It offers an excellent ecosystem for collecting historical data and integrating them into the applications. Thus, making possible to develop production strategies more innovative, effective and efficient. The digital process that cloud computing brings to manufacturing allows to detect or predict the different changes into the processes. In this way it makes possible to react on time and take measures to avoid the shutdown of entire operation in the shop floor. This is where some of the advantages of cloud computing come to the rescue. Furthermore, the flexible and scalable nature of the cloud provides a more comprehensive solution for managing the ever-increasing data sets produced within manufacturing facilities. Cloud computing provide a resource-friendly solution to managing and securing the industrial data. The main disadvantage of cloud computing is in the high prices for renting.
Edge Computing is a new approach that facilitates a reduction in the use of data bandwidth and increase the real time processing. The edge records the data received from the sensors, which are analyzed and processed and only sends the critical information to able to produce the maximum benefit and reduce the load in the network. In this way, it gives a predictable and ultra-low latency connection ideal for time-critical situations including any use-case where the operation is either mission-critical or where things are in motion. Also, the edge add intelligence to the manufacturing operations running complex algorithm to analyze the collected data to take real-time decisions. Furthermore, edge computing elements will easily integrate in the local factory network. The main disadvantage of edge computing is in the limited hardware capabilities for information processing.
Although both technologies can work separately, they are not exclusive. The implementation of a hybrid architecture will allow the use of the best of two technologies. Edge allows you to analyze all the data at the machine and pre-process it quickly and instantly. Thus, the important data can be transferred more quickly to the cloud where you have access to more computing power and larger storage capacities. In this way is lowed the prices of the data cloud transactions and storage.
Based on the application, you will decide whether and how you want to use the cloud, the Edge or combine both. They are powerful technologies with a lot of advantages for industries no matter the sizes of the company (big companies or SME). Every element of your shop floor will reach the next level when you implement one of both technologies allowing you to enjoy the benefits of digitization.
In future posts, we will be continue writing about technology and business trends for enterprises. Furthermore, we recommend consulting the following literature to continue your digital transformation journey:
- Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success, MIT review
- The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives, by Simon & Schuster
- Artificial Intelligence: The Insights You Need, by Harvard Business Review
- The Year in Tech, 2021: The Insights You Need, by Harvard Business Review
- The Deep Learning Revolution, by MIT Press
- Competing in the Age of AI, by Harvard Review Press
The objective of this blog is to provide a personal vision of how digital transformation trends will be impacting in our daily activities, businesses and lifestyle.
Researcher, his research interest includes machine learning, Industry 4.0, Internet of things, and cyber-physical