How Edge Computing can help manufacturers prepare for Industry 4.0

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Manufacturers can’t wait to begin their transition to Industry 4.0 — the Manufacturing Report of 2020 highlights MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) findings that show future-ready companies enjoy margins 16% higher than the industry average. However, that doesn’t mean an immediate jump to extreme modernization is required. The same report shows 43% of businesses are encountering so many roadblocks to modernization that they’re experiencing digital transformation fatigue.

Most companies need a trusted partner to help them navigate the changes they can make today to enable edge computing and Industry 4.0 in the future. Schneider Electric has been a trusted partner helping clients tackle everything, from essential preventive services to redesigning their permanent IT backbone. Keep reading to learn more about what this new wave means for your manufacturing industry IT department and how you can set your team and organization up for success.

Industry 4.0: Driven by Safety, Quality, Productivity, and Sustainability

The fourth wave of the industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is an unavoidable wave driving manufacturing to shift from primarily focusing on hardware to becoming more software-focused. It’s essential to understand the real-world benefits of this technological shift to see why the wave is unavoidable: safety, quality, productivity, and sustainability. To learn more about how Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing can take operations to a new level in these areas, check out the How Edge Computing Enables Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 eBook.

industry 4.0 and edge computing

One Key to Industry 4.0: Using Edge Computing to Process Massive Amounts of Data

To embrace the true nature of Industry 4.0, you need low-latency computing at the edge to process the massive amounts of data collected by networked sensors. With edge computing becoming increasingly common, companies often feel they need more human resources with highly specialized IT skills to ensure the security of their edge solutions. Some may not realize there are solutions available that can specifically address physical security and monitoring at the edge without a significant investment in expanding their teams.

Combine the skills and physical security gap with more computing done at the edge, and you run into the challenge of gaining the myriad benefits of edge computing while mitigating associated physical infrastructure security risks like high temperatures, humidity, physical damage, leaks, and airborne contaminants. However, there is no doubt that the benefits of edge computing make addressing physical infrastructure security challenges worth the effort.

Edge computing offers several benefits, namely:

  • Scalability
    • Edge computing bundles computing, storage, and analytics capabilities without requiring an expensive central data center upgrade. Best of all, each new device doesn’t impose substantial bandwidth demands on the core network, which leads us to the next benefit: speed.
  • Speed
    • Edge computing increases network performance by reducing latency because information doesn’t have to travel as far. This shorter travel time is crucial because the information superhighway is increasingly congested. Moving large amounts of data in and out of the cloud can be expensive — and slow! This is no longer a competitive advantage but an absolute necessity vital to the success of your business.
  • Reliability
    • With computing happening closer to end-users, local network problems become less likely to affect customers in distant locations. With so many devices functioning at the edge, it becomes much more difficult for one failure to shut down entire services because there are more pathways to reroute the data flow.

To discover more keys to Industry 4.0, check out our new eBook!

industry 4.0

Do You Need an Industry 4.0 Guide?

In addition to the challenges mentioned above, edge computing can also address security and environmental concerns.

For optimal performance, look for an integrated security and environmental solution with built-in sensors that can harness critical information from network-connected devices such as remote network closets and densely packed racks or wiring closets. In addition, the solution should also allow IT to monitor even the most distant edge sites through a secure, cloud-based end-to-end monitoring and management software that centralizes the management appliances.

Furthermore, UPSs housed in rack enclosures are designed to handle harsh environments, with physical security built in, power distribution and cooling placed appropriately, paired with software and services that make monitoring and maintenance easier and more resilient. With sustainability in mind, these UPSs are designed with half the materials and twice the life cycle so, as edge data centers proliferate, they account for the least amount of waste possible.

It all comes together with the help of a trusted partner ecosystem.  Key strategic alliance partners – like Stratus, HP, Lenovo, and Cisco – understand the growing importance of IT in smart manufacturing, helping create all-inclusive solutions for manufacturers.  If you’re ready to start the conversation about taking small steps today to enable smarter manufacturing and Industry 4.0 capabilities tomorrow, contact Schneider Electric here or call us at 1 (877) 800-4272.

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