What Is Industrial Edge Computing? Exploring Benefits, Use Cases, and More

Posted by Thane Moore on May 26, 2023

Industries such as oil and gas, manufacturing, and transportation operate a wide range of machines, sensors, and systems that generate valuable data. Increasingly, this equipment is network-enabled, making it possible to transmit data to computer systems and analyze it for business and operational insight. However, sending data to a distant data center or the cloud causes delays that limit its value — particularly when the industrial site is isolated in a remote location.

Therein lies the value of industrial edge computing. As with other edge computing use cases, the objective is to bring compute and storage power closer to the equipment and devices that generate data. Processing data closer to its source allows organizations to take action quickly to troubleshoot problems and optimize their operations.

What Is Industrial Edge and Industrial Edge Computing?

The industrial edge refers to network-connected industrial facilities such as remote manufacturing sites, warehouses, plants, etc. Industrial edge computing is a distributed computing framework where the data generated by network-connected devices in these industrial edge facilities is processed locally instead of sent off to a centralized data center. This reduces latency, unlocks real-time data analysis, reduces bandwidth utilization, and more. 

In many ways, manufacturing and heavy industry sectors pioneered the edge computing concept in general. For decades, these industries have used Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems to monitor and control critical infrastructure and gather real-time data on a variety of metrics. In the edge model, data is transmitted from industrial equipment to an edge platform, such as an on-site micro data center cabinet or nearby edge data center that provides connectivity, data integration, and analytics. From there, it can be sent to the centralized data center or the cloud for long-term preservation, in-depth analysis, and machine learning applications.

Exploring the Benefits of Industrial Edge Computing

The primary benefit of edge computing is reduced latency, enabling organizations to leverage data for real-time decision-making. Organizations derive the most value from the edge when they use it for monitoring environmental conditions, the status of processes, and the performance, availability, and output quality of equipment.

Edge computing also allows organizations to preserve bandwidth and reduce cloud storage costs. Raw data streams are processed at the edge, making sending all data to the cloud unnecessary. This becomes increasingly valuable as the data generated by equipment continues to explode.

Industrial Edge Computing Use Cases

While the applications of industrial edge computing are practically limitless, there are four primary use cases.

Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

Organizations can use data collected from sensors and other instruments to determine when to perform critical maintenance. They can also monitor power consumption to identify ways to conserve energy and save money.

Enhancing Safety and Security

Connecting closed-circuit cameras and employee badge readers to edge platforms allows organizations to better monitor security. Sensors can be built into safety equipment so that usage can be tracked. 

Automating Warehouse Operations

Edge computing can monitor inventory levels of raw materials and components and track finished products as they move off the line into the warehouse. Data from inventory management systems can be mined to identify opportunities for increased efficiency.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning algorithms need a lot of data to “learn,” and transmitting that data to the cloud and back is simply too slow. The edge enables manufacturers and heavy industries to take full advantage of AI, machine learning, and automation.

All-in-One Infrastructure for the Industrial Edge

Manufacturing facilities and industrial sites are harsh environments for IT equipment. Generally, there is no data center space, so organizations need server cabinets with built-in cooling and security and the ability to protect equipment. The Enconnex EdgeRack Industrial 8M was designed specifically for this use case. It’s an edge micro data center cabinet for industrial environments.

The EdgeRack Industrial 8M features a side-mounted cooling unit that delivers up to 8kW of cooling capacity — capable of supporting powerful servers with GPUs that can handle AI and machine learning applications. The EdgeRack Industrial 8M is also NEMA 12 and IP55 rated, providing robust protection against dust and moisture.

The experts at Enconnex are here to help you choose the right products for your edge environments. Browse our micro data centers for sale and give us a call to discuss your specific needs.

Posted by Thane Moore on May 26, 2023

Thane Moore is the Senior Director of Sales Operations & Logistics for Enconnex and has 20 years of experience in the IT infrastructure manufacturing space working for companies such as Emerson and Vertiv.

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