Internet of Things promises that by connecting devices to the network you could leverage data to improve productivity, efficiency, and ROI. Edge computing promises to solve latency problems and improve user experience. However, most companies today are not reaching desirable results with these technologies. In this blog, we will further discuss interconnectivity, stock management and internet bandwidth issues and how to solve them now to truly leverage IOT and Edge Computing.
What is the problem?
We have found three main pain points that hinder IOT and Edge Computing potential in most companies:
Do all your sensors, gateways, PLCs, and box computers connect and transmit data smoothly to and from the main servers? This is usually the main pain point. Getting all those small devices to actually work together requires a multidisciplinary team: facilities, software and hardware engineers, administrators, and management. Compatibility issues will continue to hinder IOT and Edge computing potential because most of this equipment is not designed together but they are still meant to work flawlessly as a system.
- Stock Management
IOT depends on distributed architectures which usually turn into stock management inventory nightmares. Keeping track of all installed devices and their maintenance programs requires a lot of man hours or a great capital investment on monitoring systems. If your facility depends on IOT and Edge Computing to run regular operations, chances are that downtime will become a great financial problem as finding the defective device and repairing it/changing it will take valuable time.
- Internet Bandwidth
Since computing is not really happening at the Edge, data is sent to a centralized data center. Then, we have the same problems as in busy Los Angeles highways. We encounter bottle necks of data trying to reach a main server, but nothing is really being done with that data. Until computing really happens at the Edge, instead of boosting productivity and reducing downtime you would probably just create a huge traffic jam of data at the main data center. What is data without actionable items? Nothing!
Leverage untapped resources
If you are already collecting data but without actionable items, audit when and where you have computing resources that are not being used. Check the gateways and PLCs first. If data is being gathered at the sensor level, check if the gateway sends the right signal to the PLC. Also check if the PLC can group data appropriately before sending it to a local box computer or an Edge server. Check if data is processed there. If not, make sure to process data locally and only send results to the main server. Centralized servers should receive only diagnostic, monitoring results which are then sent to the correct staff member for them to make a final decision and determine corrective actions. Later, check if corrective actions can be pushed from a PC to the main server and then to the Edge server and the PLC. Remember that IOT and Edge computing are supposed to facilitate a two-way street of actionable data.
Partner with experienced OEMs
Interconnectivity is not a given. It is built. You need to find an OEM that offers robust products and consultation services. The secret to a 100% compatibility is understanding the application specific environment and requirement gathering in terms of software, hardware, and available bandwidth. Your business partner also needs to bring to your attention possible security risks and how to solve them, starting at the hardware level. Furthermore, legacy equipment must be factored into the equation. A full blown IOT and Edge Computing strategy should be based on a solid implementation and maintenance plan. If you want to read more about security, visit our Cybersecurity Blog Series.
Stock Management Programs
Before attempting the implementation of IOT and Edge Computing technologies, make sure you already have a stock management program and lifecycle management in place. If you can track and manage other assets and you have the appropriate infrastructure and personnel in place, it will be easier to add all the gateways, PLCs, box computers, and Edge Servers. Edge computing and IOT applications are not static, they are ever evolving and ever changing. If you don’t invest in a stock management program, you will waste money and resources.
As you can see, many Edge Computing and IOT applications are not ready for a Metaverse or a Virtual Twin (you can read more about Virtual Twins in this blog) and are not providing the financial returns or productivity gains once offered. However, we do have the OEMs, services, and technology to overcome the basic pain points that hinder their full potential.
If you want to continue reading about the Metaverse and similar technologies, visit this page.