There’s a lot of excitement about how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will reshape manufacturing, utilities, and other industrial operations. As companies reimagine their operations, many have questions about how to take advantage of edge computing in order to capture the high-value gains of IIoT.
During a recent webinar, Stratus, ARC Advisory Group, and Automation.com addressed some of those key questions. We laid out a framework for how valuable data can live safely and prosper on the edge of your industrial control environment. Here are a few highlights:
WHERE TO START?
First, let’s talk about the “things” in IIoT—pumps, motors, valves, conveyors, processing vessels, etc.—and the industrial control systems managing them. These systems are often decades old, highly customized, and isolated from the rest of the enterprise. They weren’t designed for open networking or the IIoT and can’t be replaced without great cost and disruption. So how can you leverage these industrial assets and derive new data sets to improve production efficiency and reduce costs?
Complementing your legacy systems with the addition of newer, open AND secure industrial networking standards like OPC UA, along with low cost, bolt-on IIoT sensors, all supported by a combination of edge and cloud-based computing applications that include real-time data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies “Living on the Edge” of existing automation equipment and systems is a good place to start generating new sources of data aimed to increasing efficiency.
WAIT – THERE’S MORE
You’ll also want to make sure that your edge systems collect, analyze, store, and forward data generated by devices being monitored at the points of production. For example, edge systems would use such data to dynamically optimize flows, temperatures and pressures or change robotic movement and speed parameters so that production and assembly activities consistently perform according to a product’s stringent quality assurance tolerances – without un-necessary giveaway. That makes this edge data extremely critical.
ADDRESSING OT AND IT REQUIREMENTS
At Stratus, we focus on today’s edge computing requirements in an industrial automation setting. That means addressing both IT and operational technology (OT) sides of the equation. For IT, key needs are standardization and virtualization to keep edge computing simple, flexible, and cost-effective. On the OT side, top priorities are long-term reliability and availability.
Another key requirement both IT and OT groups have is keeping edge systems as low-touch as possible. Operations teams rarely have the skills or time for hands-on care of computers. And edge systems are often in remote locations without any or limited IT staff onsite.
WHY WE LIKE THE EDGE
Stratus solutions accommodate both IT and OT needs at the edge of your industrial assets. Stratus continuous availability systems are built on industry standards and easily virtualized. They are remarkably easy to manage and service. In fact, we have built in remote monitoring and predictive self-service capabilities that eliminate almost all hands-on administration. Plus, Stratus architecture is fully redundant from top to bottom. Our solutions simply don’t fail and provide in-service lifecycles that extend a decade or more – creating even more value for industrial users.
GO CRAWL – WALK – RUN
Many of our industrial customers are adopting IIoT in stages. They usually start with deploying coordinated control strategies between related production units or lines, or adding basic analytics for their core systems to uncover trends and insights to make strategic business decisions. The next stage involves supplementing these applications with real-time data analytics and pushing that real-time intelligence to the industrial assets themselves – at the edge for machine-based, real-time production decisions, along with feeding cloud based data analytics to compare and contrast the performance across industrial enterprises.
At Stratus, we have deep industrial expertise and continuously availability technology to help you realize the full value of IIoT across the entire edge-to-enterprise spectrum.