What can edge computing do for the production line?


Manufacturers in all industries are facing excessive pressure to automate. Between the fluctuations in consumer demand linked to the pandemic and the myriad causes of labor shortages, shops of all sizes need ways to streamline and simplify their operations.

“Automation” is far too simple an answer to this complex challenge.

Since far too many manufacturers have had to learn the hard way, even if you try to collect large amounts of data, you don’t always know what to do with it.

It is therefore worth considering, in the most practical terms possible, why manufacturers need technologies such as advanced computing in the first place.

Specifically, if your shop made the most of advanced computing, how would it actually improve your business?

Five enterprise-wide changes made possible by advanced IT

  1. Live dashboards – It is generally the starting point of transformation paths for manufacturers. The first step is to remove the manual actions required of employees to account for the different stages of the production chain.

This means logically and painstakingly connecting the various disparate industrial systems and machines spread across the floor.

This seemingly monumental measure is not only necessary to make the counting of production a little easier. It’s also the basis for a more reliable, accurate, real-time view of bigger issues like uptime.

  1. Faster progress – One of the biggest hurdles for IT in manufacturing today is the time it takes to deploy changes and updates to the various machines that make up the shop floor.

In large part, this is because these machines come from different manufacturers and even different countries. But it is also because IT must each time take into account the different interdependencies between these machines.

With a single software environment configured to connect all of these machines, updates that would have taken weeks can now take a few minutes.

  1. Intelligent availability – Imagine that a food and beverage manufacturer faced the challenge of dramatically improving production at a site.

Managers in this business need to think about how they can optimize the shop floor to improve production volumes and even variety. The causes of bottlenecks and downtime are difficult to identify.

But if your workshop is managed by a single platform, you can more accurately monitor the interdependencies between systems. And over time, start relying on specialized apps like Anomaly Detection to quickly spot minor deviations that could have a big impact.

  1. Reduce the risks of innovation – One of the main reasons why manufacturers should consider a common platform approach to automation is to ultimately help them start paying for innovation and advancement as an operational cost rather than always rely on significant capital investments.

With edge computing, manufacturers can leverage the Software-as-a-Service model on a much larger scale than ever before.

Technology investments can then rise and fall precisely when the business needs it (even responding seasonally, if necessary).

And innovation can happen in a way that suits the CFO.

  1. Targeted collaboration – Perhaps the most beneficial advanced IT offering is the creation of a single environment in which IT, OT and technology partners can collaborate on the basis of a common vision of the actual performance of the line.

Rather than IT and OT managers working on fundamentally different projects, they can look at the same problems and model solutions together, combining their expertise.

The result is that with each team free to work flexibly and get the data they need, the business as a whole can make faster and more focused improvements.

Would your shop improve with advanced computing?

Regardless of the size of a business, small, young or old, the success of a manufacturing unit depends on the cohesion with which the disparate parts of the system work together.

State-of-the-art computing helps silos collaborate around a dynamic and accurate view of the production line, effectively coordinating updates across the production line.

Siemens Industrial Edge is an open edge computing platform comprised of Edge devices, Docker-based Edge applications, standardized Edge connectivity and a central management system.

To learn more about Siemens Industrial Edge and how it helps manufacturers derive tangible value from their data, read our eBook here.


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