Demystifying the Benefits and Risks of Deploying Edge Computing for Industry 4.0

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Industry 4.0 is all about automating industrial processes for efficiency and scale. Historically, automation has been accomplished by combining various means of mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic, and IT. But Industry 4.0 will take automation to another level, one where machines talk to each other to get things done. Not only will robots be coordinating tasks, they will integrate forecasting, production scheduling, and supply chain management for a dynamic and efficient production environment.

More efficient, sure, but dynamic?

Yes. The day will come when the device being manufactured will communicate with the production environment, giving instructions on configuration and options, resulting in each device being “custom mass produced”. This, of course, will be enabled by adding significantly more IT capacity. And I’m not talking about just leveraging centralized cloud computing. I’m talking about edge computing.

How enterprise IT, edge IT, and the cloud work together in Industry 4.0.

You may have seen my previous blog, The Secret Sauce for Industry 4.0 — the Micro Data Center at the Local Edge, which discusses why we need edge computing for Industry 4.0. And, you may be asking yourself:

  • Where does IT fit in the Industry 4.0 ecosystem?
  • Are there special considerations to deploy IT on a factory floor — considering IT is usually deployed in climate-controlled, very clean data centers?
  • How do I make my IT reliable in this seemingly harsh environment?

These are all excellent questions and why we wrote the white paper Industry 4.0: Minimizing Downtime Risk with Resilient Edge Computing.

The new white paper starts by looking at the cost of downtime in different manufacturing environments, then it highlights key emerging technology innovations in Industry 4.0.

The paper also focuses on how IT and OT are converging to enable smart enterprise control and how to deploy edge IT to the lower levels of the automation hierarchy to drive efficiency and scale. The paper outlines how enterprise IT, edge IT, and the cloud work together in Industry 4.0. It also covers the challenges of deploying edge IT in manufacturing environments, and the best practices to achieve resilient edge computing, including physical infrastructure hardware and management software.

Industry 4.0 is a game changer that will further automate industrial processes. Edge computing is an integral part of the system, enabling reliable delivery of IT capabilities in extremely close proximity to the operation. I encourage you to read Industry 4.0: Minimizing Downtime Risk with Resilient Edge Computing as it will help you in your journey to reliably deploy edge computing into Industry 4.0.

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