The future of edge computing points at the development of mobile solutions and edge hardware that will simplify the integration of the edge in both greenfield and brownfield facilities. Although simplifying the adoption rate is the key benefit, other important value propositions of mobile edge computing exist.
This article will discuss:
The importance of mobile edge computing to industrial efforts
The benefits of mobile edge computing
How to realize the benefits of mobile edge computing
The importance of mobile edge computing to industrial efforts
Mobility provides a vehicle for enhancing data capture initiatives and bringing low latency processing to industrial settings. It achieves this through the use of mobile devices or edge hardware built with computing features. These devices can capture machine data and transfer it to a centralized data center or simply make it readable to a human operator.
The ability to capture machine data throughout an item of equipment’s operational circle ensures that the performance status of the equipment is always known. The captured data can then be applied to determining overall equipment effectiveness calculations and productivity levels. Other important applications of mobile edge computing are the interconnectivity with other equipment and automated systems it provides. Mobile edge computing ensures that important legacy equipment can be connected to newer systems by simply plugging edge devices onto outdated ports or outlets.
As long as data collection, processing, and analysis will define the future of industrialization, mobile edge computing is expected to be the focal point for collecting data from legacy equipment and hard-to-reach locations.
The key benefits of mobile edge computing
Edge computing is transformational. This means aside from bringing processing close to data-producing sources, its application will be determined by need. Take, for example, the struggles manufacturers of essential products are currently experiencing with implementing social distancing within shop floors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This creates different scenarios for the application of mobile edge computing and edge devices. One example is the use of smart devices or human-machine interface (HMI) devices to collect data and broadcast machine data to screens. In this case, the project manager or the next operator does not need to wipe down the entire machine or be in close proximity with an operator before reading the output from the equipment.
The use of industrial wearables is also a notable mention in this scenario. They ensure operators receive specific machine data and other information they require without having to come in close contact with one another. Thus, mobile edge computing can be applied to ensure that social distancing policies are adhered to.
Asides from its transformational abilities, key benefits of mobile edge computing include:
Driving business model evolution – The ability to collect data or process data from the deepest parts of any facility leads to the creation of diverse business models. One example is the evolution of the Industrie 4.0 business model. Here, mobile edge computing can serve as the catalyst for pursuing a predictive maintenance business model to increase the life span of shop-floor assets.
The mobile edge computing value chain is highly competitive. This means stakeholders from both the software and hardware industries have the power to drive its evolution and application in diverse industries. Mobile edge computing can be used to enhance logistics and supply chain management and also be deployed for rescue missions. It all depends on the person or people behind the development of new concepts or models for its application.
A new opportunity for efficient operation – The example of collecting machine data to drive OEE calculations and improve operational efficiency is just one example of this. Mobile edge computing will provide SMEs with the opportunity to expand marketing campaigns, reach more customers, and enhance their services at far more affordable rates than the public cloud offers.
One example is the use of smartphones in developing countries by financial startups to disburse payments in local communities where internet availability is sporadic. In this scenario, the smartphones act as edge computing devices that can provide data processing services even while offline. Payments are then made from device to device using available mobile connections including 2G connections. Thus, mobile edge computing provides every industry with new opportunities to enhance the efficiency of their operations.
Generating socio-economic benefits for society – Mobile edge computing’s ability to deliver new business models and its transformational use will definitely create socioeconomic benefits for both developing and developed regions. In developed regions, it will help with speeding up the automation of industrial processes and increasing the efficiency in which daily activities are conducted. This includes self-driving vehicles, automated homes, and the provision of domestic services.
In the developing world, mobile edge computing brings interesting models for the telecommunication industry to explore. This includes extending their services to difficult terrains and out-of-the-way regions. Financial institutions and local manufacturers can also explore the use of mobile edge computing to enhance everyday activities. The successful application of mobile edge computing in these regions will then provide a foundation for economic growth for the local communities.
Realizing the benefits of mobile edge computing
To realize the benefits of mobile edge computing, the need for standards and enabling policies by government agencies are required. Mobile edge computing requires a service-neutral approach which ensures every industry can take advantage of the interconnectivity it brings without having to be tied to proprietary vendors. Thus, an environment in which any HMI or mobile edge device can be attached to any machine to collect data will be more productive than one in which a singular brand is required for a machine.
Liberal policies from the government – with regards to allowing the diverse business models mobile edge computing will support to thrive – are needed to realize its benefits. Situations in which limitations are placed concerning the sharing of customer-request data with manufacturing teams will negatively affect innovation. An example is in the field of biomedicine and the creation of med-tech devices. Here, an understanding of individual patient needs is required to make devices that help specific patients. If patient data remain behind a policy wall, this can stifle innovation and therefore detrimentally affect how the healthcare industry applies mobile edge computing.
Computing as we know it is undergoing another paradigm shift with mobile edge computing expected to be at the forefront of this shift. With this shift comes diverse business opportunities and socio-economic growth for SMEs to explore. The paradigm shift mobile edge computing brings will be felt across diverse industries including the manufacturing industry, thus developing new revenue streams for smaller manufacturers and large corporations that successfully integrate mobile edge computing.