Servicing the edge: Today’s downtime avoids tomorrow’s shutdown

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Edge Computing is shaping up to be a vital enabler of the next wave of automation technology. Self-Driving Cars, 5G, AI, Machine Learning – all these technologies are being shifted closer to consumers. As a result, the requirement for ultra-fast data processing, storage, transmission and the highest amount of uptime possible is needed.

The realities of our aging population, increased labour costs and heavy reliance to technology, means that the effects of equipment downtime will affect more than just your company’s bottom line. While today’s Edge downtime may cost your company a nominal amount of money per hour in downtime, tomorrow’s Edge downtime will cost your company far more. Consider the future of supermarkets, where facial recognition and AI technology allow customers to walk in, pick up their groceries, walk out of the store and automatically pay without reaching for their wallets.

While traditional supermarket’s critical application downtime may only affect Point of Sale equipment, tomorrow’s supermarket’s uptime will affect every part of its operation as the store becomes a giant Point of Sale machine!

How do you ensure the most amount of uptime?

Like any equipment that you rely on, regular inspection and maintenance are required to ensure that it is operating within its design parameters. Equipment manufacturers have a strong understanding on the different type of failure patterns and typically base their servicing requirements around a statistical model which ensures a prolonged operating life.

Find out if your manufacturers offer predictive capabilities. They know when the equipment should be serviced, they will also have a good understanding of the relationship between how the equipment is used and the Mean Time To Failure (MTTF). Some manufacturers will inform you ahead of time that your equipment may be at the end of its reliable life based on how it has been operating. Other manufacturers will wait until you contact them advising that the equipment has failed.

If your manufacturer doesn’t offer predictive capabilities, you may have to consider the current lifecycle of your equipment and the associated downtime costs for your operation. Not only should you consider the direct cost, but you should also think about the indirect costs of downtime like frustrated customers, underutilised staff or damage to your brand equity.

Do you need to hire an onsite expert to look after your equipment?

If your equipment sits out of sight and out of mind until a problem occurs, then you probably don’t have to hire an onsite expert.

However, extended warranties, service plans, and monitoring/dispatch/predictive services are generally offered by the OEM for the viable life of the equipment. Fixed cost to maintain equipment, immediate access to the supply chain and guaranteed maintenance or repair times allow business operators to focus on operations instead of the equipment.

We believe that responsibility for equipment expertise should lie with the manufacturer of the equipment and not the operator.

At Schneider Electric, we lead the industry in product reliability by offering Extended Warranties, Managed Service plans and Monitoring / Dispatch / Predictive Maintenance alongside our Secure Power products.

I urge to you think about the impact of Edge Computing, how your future requirements may change as technology changes our society, as well as how these changes to the outcomes of downtime may affect your operations in the future.

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