3 Ways Edge Computing Stimulates IoT Technology Capabilities

3 Ways Edge Computing Enriches IoT Technology

There are three ways edge computing enhances IoT deployments. These areas are key to increasing data gathering capabilities in a real-time world.

For IoT deployments, going to the edge may be the best choice when it comes to helping businesses deploy IoT technology across their network infrastructures.

Panduit’s white paper, “Edge Computing: Behind the Scenes of IoT,” explains the difference between the cloud and edge computing and three ways the edge can help IoT technology deployments.

It also discusses the following key areas for consideration when deploying edge computing: real-time requirements, environmental conditions, space limitations, and security.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is the opposite of cloud computing. With edge computing, the compute, storage, and application resources are located close to the user of the data, or the source of the data.

This is in contrast to a cloud deployment where those resources are in some distant data center owned by the cloud provider.

Although edge computing may appear to be a new concept, it is just the computing pendulum swinging to one side of the computing continuum.

Computing started with the advent of mainframes in the late 1950s. Mainframes are an example of centralized computing; they were too large and expensive for one to be on every user’s desk.

In the late 1960s, minicomputers appeared, which moved compute power away from centralized control and into research labs where they controlled experiments, the factory floor for process control, and many other use cases.

The pendulum moved all the way to the distributed side with the arrival of the PC in the mid-1980s. With the PC, individuals had computing power at their fingertips.

The computing pendulum swings back and forth, and today, it is swinging towards edge computing, which puts the processing and storage resources closer to where they are used and needed.

Why Edge Computing for IoT?

IoT deployments can benefit from edge computing in three ways:

  1. Reduced Network Latency

The latency in an IoT deployment is the amount of time between when an IoT sensor starts sending data and when an action is taken on the data.

Several factors impact network latency: The propagation delay through the physical media of the network; the amount of time it takes to route data through the networking equipment (switches, routers, servers, etc.); and the amount of time it takes to process the data. Implementing edge computing for IoT offers a reduction in network latency and improves real-time response.

  1. Reduced Network Jitter

The jitter in a network is the variation of latency over time. Some real-time IoT applications may not be tolerant of network jitter, if that jitter causes the latency to lengthen such that it prevents the system to act in the required time frame.

  1. Enhanced Security

Edge computing offers the opportunity to provide a more secure environment regardless of how one would deploy: co-location or directly owning the equipment.

Co-location facilities are physically secure locations. If one owns the edge computing equipment, it can be in the factory where the IoT sensors are located or in another company-owned facility.

To learn more about edge computing and why it is important for IoT, download Panduit’s “Edge Computing: Behind the Scenes of IoT”  white paper – or subscribe to our blog to access all the papers in our IoT “101” white paper series.

3 Technology Advances Drive IIoT — and its Demand for Real-Time Data

 

Real-Time Data White Paper

What is the impact on the enterprise data center when it tries to process real-time data from IIoT devices?

Deploying IIoT generates data that needs to be collected, analyzed, and acted on in real time.

What exactly is real time and how does it affect your network’s infrastructure?

Panduit’s latest white paper, “What is the Impact of Real-Time Data?”  explains the relationship between process control and real-time data.

What is Real Time?

The definition varies, but generally, a real-time system is one that provides a smooth, seamless user experience.

This is certainly the case when watching HDTV or listening to streaming music. The video frames and audio samples arrive quickly enough and at the right time.

This allows the viewer or listener to integrate them into a smooth experience rather than discrete samples.

This definition also applies to digital control systems implemented on the factory floor or a flight control system. In those applications, if the digital control system does not respond fast enough, bad things can happen.

Process Control is Generating Real-Time Data

End users and manufacturers of IIoT technology are using three concurrent technological advances to deploy IIoT: sensors, Moore’s Law, and the ubiquity of bandwidth.

Without them, the IIoT and the linkage of the factory floor to the enterprise data center would not be possible.

  1. Sensors—Sensors like microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers, gyroscopes, and inertial measurement units (IMU), have become small enough with a reduced cost, making wide deployment practical.
  2. Moore’s Law—Doubling the number of transistors in an integrated circuit every two years has resulted in small, cheap CPUs and memories.  The Raspberry Pi single board computer is an example.
  3. The Ubiquity of Bandwidth—IIoT devices that gather data need to send that data upstream for analysis. The ability to connect to a network is available everywhere. There is a wide range of ways IIoT devices can connect to the network, for example, copper or fiber optic cabling, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and cellular, to name a few.

Deploying IIoT devices generates large amounts of data that must be analyzed and acted upon in real time.

To learn more about the impact of real-time requirements on your network’s infrastructure, download Panduit’s “What is the Impact of Real-Time Data?  white paper – or subscribe to our blog to receive our complete 4-part series of IoT 101 white papers.

 

Connecting in Industrial Automation

Ethernet network cabling in the enterprise is almost exclusively based on structured cabling. Greatly simplifying , structured cabling is based on connecting equipment, e.g. network switch to a personal computer, using solid conductor horizontal cable terminated at both ends with a jack mounted in a patch panel, wall faceplate or similar, and then making the connections from the jacks to active equipment using flexible, stranded patch cords. One benefit of doing this is that the horizontal cable with jacks forms the basis of a testable permanent link.

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Segmenting Networks for Security

Historically, there has been little convergence between manufacturing and enterprise in the plant network. Instead, there are multiple, separate Network Locksnetworks – one network may run fieldbus protocol at the device level, another network may run ControlNet protocol for machine-to-machine
communications, while a third protocol, such as Ethernet, or a proprietary network, links the machines to data acquisition and storage units for reporting or archiving. Meanwhile, a separate network, often an extension of the office Ethernet network, is on the plant floor, enabling workstation access to work orders and task instructions.

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K.I.S.S. for Better Network Planning and Increased Collaboration

Collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) is becoming a necessity to design and deploy an industrial network architecture that follows IT best practices for security, high availability, and quality of service.

However, skills gaps still exist between IT and OT that can jeopardize effective planning and configuration of the physical and logical network fabric, especially at the switch level.  In the words of Panduit Solutions Manager Dan McGrath, “My contention is that two kinds of switches are found in many plants today: (1) unmanaged and (2) poorly managed!”

Dan makes a point worth considering, as unmanaged switches are often deployed to enable quick initial startup of the machine or process.  However, this short-term gain can turn into a long-term loss when the time comes to scale more nodes or integrate single machines into the wider factory network, in the form of increased time and materials costs.

Deploying managed switches is a definite step up, but can give plant teams a false sense of manageability and security. If managed switches are deployed as plug-and-play devices without attention to configuration and setup, IT/OT directors may be left with a network that works on Day 1 but is teetering on the edge of functionality or with major security flaws.

To update a famous acronym, I think there is a better approach that IT and OT teams can follow that will drive better network planning and increased team collaboration:  Know, Integrate, Simplify, and Standardize, or K.I.S.S.

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Ultracapacitor vs. Battery UPS

Manufacturing companies can experience an average of 3.9 power outages per year, and when the power goes out…production STOPS! Even short power blips can be detrimental.  Every minute you wait for network equipment to restart can cost your company thousands of dollars. So what can we do about it?  Install a UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply System! Well that’s a great start, but traditional UPS systems rely on batteries, and if your UPS battery fails, your risk of downtime goes up…the very thing we’re trying to avoid.  Batteries require maintenance and operating expenses such as inspections, testing, replacement and in most cases hazardous waste disposal.  As an alternative to a traditional battery UPS system, an ultracapacitor UPS system improves uptime and eliminates maintenance, which saves you money!  Let’s compare the two with our infographic below.

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Preparing for the Industrial IP World Cup

The FIFA World Cup brings out the competitive instincts of sports fans across the globe. The strategies, styles, skills and depth of teams around the globe are tested and validated like no other sporting event. How much training and practice does it take to play at that elite level? If you have participated as a coach or parent for your children’s soccer teams, you must appreciate the long journey these players and teams have been on to reach the pinnacle of their sport!   Training, team building, and ‘play’ experience are all key factors for teams to achieve their goals whether on the soccer field or even the plant floor if you are thinking about transforming your industrial productivity.

Industrial World CupFor industrial plants today, a new competition is underway to produce faster, better and smarter than the other ‘teams’ around the globe. A key strategy involves enabling more teamwork, better decision making, and faster, more agile response by connecting people, processes, data and things in new ways. This market transition is referred to with varying names such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything, and Industry 4.0. One key aspect is how to best leverage the advantages of Internet Protocol (IP) which underpins so much of this wired and wireless connectivity – a new Industrial IP World Cup!

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Building a Structured Approach to the Industrial Network

The linkage between technology and future growth is strong. As McKinsey & Company characterizes, for western economies the growth of GDP will only come from the “do it smarter” companies that build a better business model.

As a result we see that many process and discrete Industrial Automation systems are undergoing dramatic transformations and adopting new strategies for industrial Ethernet. Many companies are transitioning to Ethernet connected controllers, computers, high speed motion control, cameras and power electronics. Every day, 160,000 new industrial Ethernet nodes are connected (I.H.S. Global/IMS Research). And there are estimates that 100% of plant floor devices will be providing data as soon as 2018.IA-P2P-StructuredCablingImage

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EMI Noise Mitigation – A Key Factor to Control Panel Optimization

One of the core issues affecting the performance and reliability of industrial EMINoise-sourcevictim control systems is electrical noise. It can cause field device misreads; devices to fail, reset, or enter a fault state; equipment damage; or signal retransmission that inflicts communication delays. The topic of mitigating performance issues caused by electrical noise is wide ranging, but we’ll look at three topics here: the types of Electrical Noise, the types of problems caused, and a multilayered approach to EMI noise mitigation.

 

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Improving UPS Power Management for Industrial Networks

Power interruptions and power quality are frequent causes of downtime in manufacturing, costing the average operation thousands of dollars each year in lost productivity.

Recovering quickly from an event is critical; when the machinery has recovered and is ready to go, having production wait on the infrastructure to “reboot” is simply unacceptable.UPS-420-x-420

Just that situation can occur—network switches, PCs, and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are key parts of modern control systems, and even short “blips” in power can cause restarts that delay device availability for up to several minutes.

As ensuring power to these devices during outages is critical to quick machine recovery, many manufacturers rely on a traditional battery-based UPS (uninterruptible power supply) system as an insurance policy.

However battery-based UPS systems are reliant on battery maintenance. Users must be willing to implement a rigorous program to monitor, maintain and properly dispose of batteries to ensure effectiveness.

Some of the common identified issues with traditional UPS systems:

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