What’s the role of edge computing in 5G manufacturing?
What is edge computing and how this concept could improve processes in the 5G manufacturing space?
Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the sources of data. Instead of relying on distant data centers, edge computing uses local infrastructure to process data.
The manufacturing sector has been identified as one of the early adopters of edge computing with many potential use cases already being implemented by manufacturers.
Specifically, edge computing offers a wide number of benefits for smart manufacturing processes, such as lower latency, increased cybersecurity and a better management of data analytics.
One of the main advantages of edge computing is that this technology has the capability to reduce latency drastically. Sending a request to a data center across the world and then waiting for a response to come back takes time and could have a negative impact in the manufacturing process. Due to this, traditional cloud computing is not the ideal for many mission-critical applications, which are key for smooth operations in the manufacturing field.
Smart manufacturing without this low latency can’t experience the full benefits of Industry 4.0. If a connected machine on an assembly line recognizes a malfunction, any delay in transmitting that signal could be costly.
Cybersecurity is also one of the top concerns for smart factories. Here, edge computing plays a key role as it could secure all the devices which are part of the network. Without edge, cybercriminals could find entry points and obtain valuable data. According to I-SCOOP, “the centralized nature of traditional cloud computing makes it vulnerable to hacking, including denial of service attacks. If a factory spread processing and storage functions throughout the edge, however, no single attack could bring down the whole network. Since computing happens closer to the data source, less data is at risk at any given moment.”
Edge computing allows manufacturers to improve data analytics at smart factories
One of the main advantages of the IoT is how it can improve data analytics. Analyzing all of this data requires a considerable amount of storage, bandwidth and computing power.
Edge computing also has a relevant role to pay here as it processes data at or near its source, enabling a faster overall process. Also, each data point within the smart manufacturing plant processes its own information, meaning that there is not a sole system that has to handle everything.
According to tech consultancy STL Partners, edge computing allows manufacturers to use more flexible, standard hardware and software to be able to access and share data relevant to their manufacturing processes.
STL Partners said that some use cases of edge computing in the smart manufacturing space include condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance, manufacturing-as-a-service, AR/VR in the manufacturing plant and precision monitoring and control.
Edge computing enables autonomy in manufacturing processes
According to Microsoft, edge computing is essential to enable autonomy in certain manufacturing processes. “The smart part of smart factory is about autonomy. The ability of some asset or piece of equipment to make decisions based on what’s going on in the factory floor without the need of human intervention, these are decisions that are not necessarily pre-programmed in some factory control system. The aim of smart manufacturing is to utilize a more programmatic data-led approach to develop new and higher quality goods faster. Edge computing can enable this autonomy where machines in the factory floor extract insight and formulate actions at near real-time,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
For more 5G manufacturing content, check out the following:
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- Three 5G manufacturing case studies: Audi, Haier, Bosch
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