This article is part of a series covering edge computing. Read the rest of the series now.
All in-the-field, production-level components were already physically on the edge, but many have gained internal microprocessors and Ethernet connections, which let them network and participate in edge computing. This makes easier to run, generate data, service and even control, but they still need users to learn their new capabilities, so they can deploy them to solve the most problems and deliver the greatest benefits in their specific process settings. The following are some of the essential tasks for achieving useful edge computing:
- Find operations problems or processes that can take advantage of edge computing to resolve bottlenecks and optimize production, and collaborate with operations technology (OT), information technology (IT) and personnel from all related and supporting disciplines to assemble a plan for transitioning to edge devices and software.
- Write policy and procedures based on needs identified in edge computing plan. For example, assess turnaround times for existing equipment and production stages to evaluate how fast edge components must be to handle their data volumes and how much local networking bandwidth will be required.
- Decide how much information should be managed by the edge devices, and how they'll gather and archive it. Then, determine what, how much and when data should go to the cloud-computing service, enterprise levels and other users, as well as what Ethernet and other network types and protocols to use.
- Research what and how often to send scripts, instructions and software apps back to the edge devices.
- Determine which edge and support devices and software will meet users and organization's needs, including where to situate data processing tasks, where to connect existing components, and how to integrate PLCs, servers and related equipment in between or nearby.
- Start with a small process and clear goals that can prove edge computing will succeed, and then scale up to more and larger projects.
- Assess and install enough cybersecurity procedures, software and devices for each section of the edge computing setup and its network to be reasonably protected.
- Establish a reevaluation schedule to revisit the edge computing infrastructure and software, and deploy updates, revisions and additions as needed.