You understand the potential the Internet of Things (IoT) has to provide manufacturing and other industries, with automation and cost saving benefits. But do you know the difference between IoT and edge IoT solutions? The edge refers to the extremes of the network, and in an IoT system the edge — the sensors, machinery, and assets — play a huge role. But “edge IoT” is made up of much more than just edge devices. It lets you solve problems at the source, where data is produced, and initiate actions, right where they take place. Here’s what you need to know to benefit from an “edge-centric” approach by combining edge computing with IoT technology.
Edge IoT 101
Edge IoT gives system-level connectivity and services to industrial machines, computers, and other parts in an IoT system. It uses embedded computers, modules, or systems that allow data to be extracted and computed at the source. Edge IoT provides infrastructure for business-critical IoT systems based on the premise that anything that can be solved at the edge should be solved at the edge.
With edge IoT, the edge is the point of entry into your IoT ecosystem, not the cloud. It doesn’t eliminate the need for the cloud, however. Edge IoT combines both edge and cloud computing to overcome the shortcomings of a cloud-only IoT system.
Why Edge is Crucial in the IoT World
Bringing intelligence closer to machines, where data is created, is a key factor in the efficiency and effectiveness of an IoT system. It removes points of failure from critical decision-making and operations, as well as improving latency and costs. Edge IoT is the solution for the following such challenges:
Edge IoT Success Stories
- Time: It may not be possible to communicate to the cloud and back quickly enough for your application. This could be critical to safety and business continuity in some cases.
- Physical constraints: Your system may not have the bandwidth to communicate all data to the cloud reliably. For some edge devices, such as those in remote outdoor locations, edge IoT is the answer to maintaining a reliable connection and solving latency problems.
- Economics: It may not be financially feasible to communicate all data to the cloud. For example, an IoT system designed for power management on a ship at sea incurs costs of $8 per GB to transmit data to the cloud, which could eliminate ROI if all data were transmitted.
- Reliability: Network connectivity is not 100 percent reliable. If you're betting your factory uptime on that connection, and it goes down, there can be huge consequences. It’s best to manage mission-critical operations at the edge.
- Security and regulatory compliance: Businesses in highly regulated industries may have limited options for transmitting or storing data in the cloud.
Edge IoT isn’t theoretical. Businesses are using it successfully for a variety of practical applications:
The Right Mix of Edge + Cloud
- In an IoT system that includes monitoring the health of high-speed rotary machinery, edge IoT allows the system to make adjustments quickly. When a maintenance issue is identified, edge IoT gives the machinery low-latency decision-making capabilities and will shut the machine down immediately. If you had to transmit the data to the cloud and then communicate to the machine from the cloud to power down, enough time may pass for a catastrophic failure that destroys the machine and racks up a huge repair or replacement bill.
- Personal protective equipment on a worker in an area where airborne chemicals may be present can detect high levels of toxins, alert the worker, and notify managers to intervene. Edge IoT makes the response virtually instantaneous, rather than gambling on whether there will be sufficient latency to make those alarms and notifications.
- On a high-speed production line, analysis of video images can identify and flag imperfect products and prevent them from being picked and packed for end users. Edge IoT handles this task on the spot, maintaining the speed of the line and the company’s parts per million defect rate.
For some parts of an IoT system, cloud computing may be efficient and cost-effective, so there’s no need to design a system with all computing at the edge. Digital experiments, like those you can conduct with IoT Digital Experiments (DX) through ADLINK DX
, will allow you to determine the system configuration that will deliver the results you need while providing maximum ROI.
The benefits of DX include not having to invest in prototyping — instead you pay a subscription to run experiments on their hardware and software in a controlled environment that won’t impact your current operation. In addition, you can run multiple experiments at the same time, so you can get the answers you need more quickly.
When you find the right configuration, you will achieve the automation, visibility, and control your business needs with minimum latency and increased reliability where it really counts. Edge IoT makes it possible.