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Leveraging Edge Computing for Enhanced Manufacturing Efficiency and Safety

28 May 2024 | by Rebecca Schenato

edge manufacturing iot

Manufacturing is a complex, dynamic yet adaptive industry where every second counts towards productivity and safety. Spiralling costs and shortages mean that companies are looking very closely at their working practices to find ways to optimise processes while ensuring a safe environment for personnel on the factory floor. The integration of technologies such as edge computing, an innovative yet proven technology that optimises data processing, is key facing these challenges.

Let’s dive into how edge computing can revolutionise manufacturing by addressing key challenges and meeting the diverse needs of stakeholders.

  1. Enhancing Automation and Business Continuity

    The heart of manufacturing lies on the factory floor, where an orchestration of automated actions, robotics, and human interventions harmonise to drive production. In such an environment, any interruption can lead to loss of revenue. Therefore, business continuity is key.

    Recent advancements in computer vision technology, which enables devices to interpret visual data, have unlocked new possibilities, enabling automation in quality control and anomaly detection. From tracking and serialisation to inventory management and health and safety protocols, the applications of computer vision are vast and transformative.

    However, the volume of data produced by cameras and similar sensors is significant. For example, a single 4K camera recording colour images at 60 FPS (frames per second) produces approximately 1 TB of data per day. Yet, accurate analysis often requires this type of high-fidelity video images. It is therefore not viable to perform this type of analysis in the cloud since it would require sending vast amounts of data over the wide area network. Further, network interruptions would have a direct negative impact on business continuity.

    The solution is to process the video and potentially audio streams locally, at the edge, in this case on or near the factory floor. By using an edge-to-cloud management platform like SixSq’s Nuvla.io, the safe, easy-to-use hardware-agnostic, cloud-neutral and container native ecosystem, companies can simplify the management and monitoring of the production process. From proprietary software developed by customers to behaviour analysis tools, the fusion of these applications empowers manufacturers with actionable insights to drive efficiency and safety on the factory floor.

  2. Addressing Security Concerns

    Security remains a top matter in manufacturing, whether that be the safety of personnel, protection of physical assets, or data integrity. This necessitates robust security measures to prevent unauthorised access to both physical and cyber spaces, and ensure data integrity across the data processing chain.

    The increased use of connected devices in the manufacturing process requires robust cyber security protection. Using edge computing, companies can deploy powerful cybersecurity applications to prevent against attack, in and around the factory floor and related critical assets.

    The Nuvla.io marketplace includes cutting edge cyber defense solutions provided by expert app vendors, tailored to meet the stringent security requirements of manufacturing environments.

    In addition, customers can deploy a private version of Nuvla.io running within their network, providing them with additional control.

  3. Empowering Stakeholders

    In the complex ecosystem of manufacturing, stakeholders have diverse needs and objectives. For instance, data scientists aim to improve product quality and yield, while plant operators prioritise business continuity and safety. At the same time, business and design teams want flexibility and agility in product development. Each role therefore tends to optimise a subset of the overall manufacturing process.

    Edge computing serves as a unifying force, offering scalable infrastructure, secure local infrastructure, and actionable insights tailored to the needs of each stakeholder. Whether it’s data scientists harnessing clean and rich data for AI modelling and training, or plant operators ensuring seamless operations, or even the IT department ensuring a cyber-secure and stable IT infrastructure, edge computing empowers stakeholders to achieve their objectives while driving innovation and efficiency.

Edge computing has emerged as a game-changer for manufacturing, offering a potent blend of efficiency, safety, and resilience. By harnessing the power of edge devices, standardised sensors, and advanced analytics, manufacturers can optimise operations, mitigate risks, and propel innovation. As the manufacturing landscape continues to evolve, embracing edge computing will be instrumental to staying ahead of the curve and redefining the future of production.

To learn more about SixSq’s Nuvla.io solutions, take a look at some of our videos.

There are many ways to get in touch with the SixSq team or why not request a demo?

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