Smart manufacturing is taking over the industry, often being touted as the next industrial revolution and propelling century-old organizations into the twenty first century. It’s an exciting thing to watch older companies evolve, but often their existing IT infrastructure cannot keep pace with the amount of data they are generating and accessing on a daily basis. That’s where Edge computing can help.
These next generation manufacturing companies often utilize an Internet of Things, with a myriad of connected devices to help streamline their processes and detect problems before they occur, saving immeasurable time and money by keeping their lines up and running. These various IoT devices are critical to their operations, but often they find their centralized IT infrastructure overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data being processed.
With smart manufacturing and IoT devices taking center stage in the industry, manufacturing organizations worldwide are constantly seeking new ways to get a leg up on their competition. You already know that you should strive for the best possible product. You already know that your uptime is critical to your company’s success. But did you know the Edge can help you find a way to significantly increase your network speed, lower costs and also make your whole line more efficient?
Edge computing in the manufacturing industry is the new key to becoming the best in your business. If you need a quick refresh on the Edge and how it operates, take a look at our Edge Explained blog before jumping into this article to gain the full scope of how the Edge can impact your business and future-proof your organization so you can keep producing critical elements for the industries you serve.
Who heads toward the Edge in Manufacturing?
The Edge has a wide array of use cases across nearly every industry, but manufacturers reap very specific benefits from their migration to Edge infrastructure. Here are a few that your fellow manufacturers at the Edge are seeing. If any of these things look like something that could help you achieve your network goals, it may be time to contact an Edge provider to see if you’re ready to get started on your own migration.
The Security-Conscious Teams
Some folks are hesitant to adopt edge technology because it can often feel like creating extra endpoints can compromise security. In reality, this is not the case. Edge computing doesn’t necessarily create more endpoints. It creates outposts for some data to be processed and accessed near the team members who need it most urgently or frequently.
When it comes to security, the Edge can be a great asset for many organizations because the decentralized nature of their data processing locations makes it harder for a threat actor to take down their entire network in one fell swoop.
The Teams Looking for Unparalleled Speed
In manufacturing, seconds matter. Do you find yourself anxious at the thought of a machine being down, not getting feedback quickly enough to adjust one of your processes, or running out of inventory before you are even alerted that stock is low? These concerns all have something in common: these are issues of latency. Many IT teams in manufacturing companies are looking to the Edge to solve some of their latency issues.
Because the Edge brings location-specific data processing and storage closer to its point of generation, rather than a larger home in a more centralized cloud, Edge users experience significantly lower latency for a few important reasons:
- The Edge server is physically closer to your facility (in extreme cases, it may even be on-premises, though this is not entirely necessary for the majority of companies). This means that the path to access the data by authorized users is shorter, and even a distance of a few hundred miles can shave significant time off those speeds. Keep in mind that Edge servers are still bound by the laws of physics and at this juncture, your speeds cannot be any faster than the speed of light.
- A decentralized model makes for less overall traffic. For example, if you have a facility in Iowa but you are routing your traffic through your cloud or colocation provider in New York City, you would be competing with all the other traffic heading toward that heavily populated area, which could definitely impact your speed.
The Teams Looking to Reduce Maintenance Costs
Edge computing empowers your team to respond quickly to any necessary maintenance, reducing costs by a significant margin. We know that seconds can matter when equipment breaks, or it can have a domino effect, potentially disrupting multiple machines at once. Real time maintenance predictions can help your team get ahead of an emergency by notifying you when a machine, part or fuel cell is nearing its end of life or if it’s in the gray area where it might need a little elbow grease.
IoT device sensors on your machines generate data that can be quickly processed at the Edge and returned to the folks who need to see it most, giving you back time otherwise lost to maintenance. Additionally, these sensors and rapid return of reports can help you optimize your maintenance calls, taking preventative action on multiple issues at once, but only paying for a single day or session of service.
On a similar note, it is also possible to set up your Edge analytics model to alert you when your inventory is getting low. You can tailor your models to read sensors that come directly from specific components or subsystems and Edge models can optimally configure your devices and systems to get you closer to your production goals. The example of making a spare parts inventory substantially more efficient and cost-effective is only the tip of the iceberg in the ways it can save you money in the long run.
Edge Manufacturing Makes You Stronger
Smart manufacturing gives your team the power to automate and customize processes for optimal performance. This can be your energy consumption, speed of processes or freeing up funds so you can allocate more of your budget to your larger business goals.
Automation Made Simpler
Manufacturers who leverage the Edge will streamline their processes because it can allow machinery to make autonomous decisions without human intervention. Many devices can utilize sensor data to monitor the condition of machinery, and also have the capability to speed up or slow down operations for optimal usage.
Smart factories are often equipped with motion, temperature, and climate sensors and can adjust lighting and cooling, as well as various other environmental controls so you reach optimal power usage. While this is just one way that Edge can utilize industrial IoT devices, but the options are limitless.
If you place a high priority on interoperability, the Edge will be a huge draw for your organization, as interoperability is critical in the efficacy of your IoT network. Concerns over interoperability make up one of the biggest concerns regarding Edge adoption. In reality, a reliable provider can help engineer interoperability into the very fabric of your Edge migration, including helping source compatible devices in order to optimize your processes.
Moving some computing functions to the Edge allows you to tailor your processes to be exactly what you need, since there is no universal standard. If devices are able to convert signals on their own, they can work with a greater variety of systems.
Protecting Your Bottom Line
We’ve already talked about lowering maintenance costs, but another important element to Edge as it pertains to your overall budget is the way it impacts your IT costs. You already know that in a smart manufacturing landscape, your organization is managing exorbitant amounts of data every day and storing such large volumes is a substantial investment. Traditional, more centralized options are expensive and often inflexible or far away. Storing data at the Edge helps reduce some of those costs.
This may feel like a big claim to make, but with Edge storage, manufacturers can delegate which data stays local and which data is relevant to their cloud solutions. Edge servers can act as gatekeepers by analyzing all the data and only sending to the cloud what needs to be there, saving you money on costly centralized cloud or colocation solutions.
Additionally, IoT or Edge devices often store and manage a lot of their own data, so even at the Edge you may find you need significantly less storage than you think.
Are you Ready to Move to the Edge?
Do you see your company benefitting from these Edge use cases? You’re not alone. Many manufacturers are making moves to the Edge this year to reap the benefits it may hold for their organizations. The key to success in Edge manufacturing is selecting the right provider to help you along the way, from initial migration to maintenance down the road. Here are a few things you should think about when you’re selecting your Edge provider so you can maximize all the ways you can win with the Edge for years to come.
- Data Center Location: If you’re getting prospected by a provider who does not have facilities in the area, it’s time to politely decline. An Edge facility in Pittsburgh when your organization operates out of Texas is not going to be the Edge for your facility.
- Keep Compliance in Mind: Remember that your Edge provider is acting as an extension of your organization and should comply with all your industry’s standards and regulations around data processing, storage and protection. If your Edge provider isn’t compliant, unfortunately your organization isn’t either. When speaking with prospective providers, make sure you get eyes on their certifications to make sure you can maintain the highest standards for your data and the data of your customers.
- Impact on Staff: Your Edge facility is something that a solid provider will be able to manage for you with relatively small amounts of time from your team. This is a great way to reallocate time and responsibility for your existing team members to better align with your organization’s long-term goals for growth. Talk with your provider about the time and resources it will take from your existing team so you have a realistic picture moving forward.
LightEdge is Ready to Bring Top Edge Technology to Your Business
As a top-tier colocation services provider, we provide a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers and dedicated onsite staff. Our customized and scalable services give you the control, whether you need a colocated rack, cage or custom suite now or in the future.
When asked about our differentiators against the competition, one of the first answers is always – our network. Our history with network goes all the way back to 1996 when we were founded as an ISP. We spent over two decades making sure our network and infrastructure were scalable, redundant, and secure enough to meet the most challenging IT needs, including 100% uptime.
From a dedicated physical infrastructure to a virtual delivery model, we’ve got the compliant cloud and hosting solution for your organization. Retain the level of control you want, and the amount of data isolation you require.
LightEdge offers a free risk assessment from our Chief Security Officer as a free resource to all of our clients. LightEdge’s highly trained compliance and network security experts take the guesswork out of keeping your business protected. LightEdge’s top priorities include compliance and network security to guarantee that our customer’s data is protected. LightEdge is compliant with:
We have empowered hundreds of organizations across the nation through improved latency, security, and reliability. We are ready to do the same for yours. Contact us today to schedule a call with one of our Edge experts.