Edge computing optimization benefits, challenges

Edge computing optimization requires major business tradeoffs, and companies have many options to make the process work for them.

By Shashidhara Dongre July 3, 2022
Image courtesy: Brett Sayles


Learning Objectives

  • Edge computing is a useful processing and storage choice because intensive data usage and storage can be kept on the shop floor.
  • More IoT devices on the manufacturing floor means more data will need to be processed efficiently.
  • Edge computing provides faster and more comprehensive data insights and analytics for manufacturers, saving time and resources.

Edge computing and data processing is experiencing a revolution. With mass movement of appropriate technologies to cloud, the demand for data centers has boomed. But more connected devices also have led to growing workloads and crunching data faster.

Over the past decade, cloud computing has changed the way organizations work, offering connectivity and microservices that improve efficiency and reduce costs. While it might have seemed like a fad, edge computing has evolved and plays a key role for many manufacturers’ in day-to-day operations.

Manufacturing data existing on the edge

For the manufacturing sector, edge computing is a useful processing and storage choice because intensive data usage and storage can be kept on the shop floor. Edge computing brings data closer and offers lower latency with improved higher data speeds. Systems like remote data storage centers, on the other hand, are not always on-site, or at the edge. Because of this, remote or cloud-based can often experience higher lag times, security issues, and other drawbacks.

An IBM article describes edge computing as a “distributed computing framework that brings enterprise applications closer to data sources such as IoT devices or local edge servers.”

Without needing to count on unnecessary data relays, edge computing eliminates slower speeds and lag associated with data relay processes involved with cloud computing or remote data storage.

According to a Feb. 11, 2021 article by Gartner, more than 15 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be connected to enterprise infrastructures by 2029. This is a big deal for the industrial sector. A heavier load on data resources, like the one predicted, will make edge computing the smarter choice for manufacturers.

Data often needs to be processed at the edge since the latency of hosted solutions demands a new approach, especially for time-critical processing. Cloud providers are coming up with their own “Edge clouds or cloud edge services designed to achieve workloads at scale across any global organization’s systems, data and processes.”

Three edge computing advances

Exciting advances in the world of edge computing offer benefits for existing and potential clients alike. From data reduction processes to 5G-powered edge computing tools, this is just the beginning of a new era designed to improve data efficiency across the organization and on the shop floor.

1. Data reduction processes. By using data reduction processes, providers can substantially minimize the requirements needed for data storage. Data-thinning dramatically optimizes storage and helps organizations save costs. Cloud edge computing providers use terms such as “raw capacity” and “effective capacity” for data storage after data reduction processes.

2. 5G connectivity for edge computing. 5G is mostly used to connect mobile devices but has a seat at the edge computing table. Promoting connectedness among software, tools, devices, and equipment, 5G is here to shake up how edge computing currently runs. Lower latency, lightning-fast connection speeds, and streamlined processes makes 5G the ideal network companion for edge computing.

3. Fog computing

Fogging or fog computing is where a decentralized computing infrastructure is used in edge computing. In fogging, the data center is placed at the edge of a network. Then, the relevant data, computing, storage and applications are placed in locations that enable quicker relay and that are in logical positions relevant to data and connectivity. Fog computing brings cloud computing services to the edge of a network to minimize the volume of data that goes to the cloud.

Industrial equipment on the edge

Given its efficacy and robust performance, edge computing is taking a stronghold across the industrial sector and many more. A March 15, 2021, Forbes report, “Computing On The Edge Can Be Transformative — But Look Before You Leap,” lists some current use cases of edge computing across several industries and verticals:

  • Within sensor-studded equipment on a factory floor.
  • In driver-assist or autonomous driving technology.
  • Embedded in surveillance cameras.
  • As part of drilling processes on offshore oil rigs.

Three edge computing benefits

Because edge computing is so close to data sources, it offers benefits such as eliminating the long return-trip that data must take to a remote storage center and back.

Three benefits of edge computing include:

  1. Faster and comprehensive data insights and analytics.
  2. Improved response times, given that the added layer of data journeys is eliminated, and security is at the forefront.
  3. Better bandwidth availability, as the source of data is right there, or as close as it can be.

It takes time and major bandwidth for data to make round trips, even if it’s to a nearby data center. Storing and protecting data on-site is a best practice and is often legally required. Edge computing is not just about saving time but about using time effectively. In the business world, time is truly money, which edge computing frees up and saves exponentially.

Shashidhara Dongre is head of CTO Team, L&T Technology Services, a CFE Media and Technology content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com.


Keywords: Edge computing, data processing


In what ways can edge computing improve a facility?

Author Bio: Shashidhara Dongre is global head, smart products and services practice at L&T Technology Services.