Industrial edge use, outlook for 2022 and beyond: Expert interview series, Jason Andersen

Industrial edge technologies provide more flexibility, cost savings and higher quality for automation and process applications to help with today’s pandemic effects, supply chain challenges, increased cybersecurity risks and fewer workers in operations, said Jason Andersen, Stratus vice president strategy and business lines. See video.

By Jason Andersen April 22, 2022
Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

We’re approaching at inflection point for increased industrial edge use in process control and factory automation applications, explained Jason Andersen, Stratus vice president strategy and business lines. In the computer industry for 30 years, Andersen spent a lot of time working to understand customer needs. Andersen applied those perspectives to edge computing trends in a video discussion with Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994. Summary advice follows.

What is the industrial edge?

Many types of edge technologies are out there, and they vary by market. Industrial edge is where general-purpose computing is done outside data center or cloud. We focus on industrial edge for manufacturing, energy such as oil and gas and renewables, transportation including rail and airports.

Thick and thin edge computing refer to how much of computing is done locally near work. Thin edge is when a little data might be processed at the edge but most is shipped up to the cloud for processing. Thick edge is when it’s advantageous to do the computing nearer the work, such as when people are local, in applications such as safety, robotics, networking, security and/or applications with high-regulatory and compliance components.

Edge technologies help because they’re more flexible and more economical than traditional automation and process controls, explained Jason Andersen, vice president strategy and business lines, at Stratus Technologies, in a Control Engineering video interview. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Edge technologies help because they’re more flexible and more economical than traditional automation and process controls, explained Jason Andersen, vice president strategy and business lines, at Stratus Technologies, in a Control Engineering video interview. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

How does the industrial edge different from automation architectures?

Right now, we’re approaching an inflection point. Distributed control system (DCS) suppliers are making more agile systems with more general-purpose equipment that’s more expandable and flexible and less proprietary. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) applications have been on this path for a long time. Discrete manufacturing is warming up to less proprietary applications, as are renewable energy applications, and most other vertical areas also. Some are farther ahead on that journey than others, often because of prior software choices.

Industrial edge technologies provide more flexibility in automation and process applications to help with today’s pandemic effects, supply chain challenges, geopolitical uncertainties and the war in Europe creating increased cybersecurity risks. Demographics are changing: there are fewer workers, especially in OT areas. Tighter controls save money and improve quality and throughput, advised Jason Andersen, vice president strategy and business lines, at Stratus Technologies, in a Control Engineering video interview. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Industrial edge technologies provide more flexibility in automation and process applications to help with today’s pandemic effects, supply chain challenges, geopolitical uncertainties and the war in Europe creating increased cybersecurity risks. Demographics are changing: there are fewer workers, especially in OT areas. Tighter controls save money and improve quality and throughput, advised Jason Andersen, vice president strategy and business lines, at Stratus Technologies, in a Control Engineering video interview. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

What are opportunities in industrial edge and why?

It’s helpful to consider an application maturity model for industrial edge applications, starting from isolated (what DCS was) through to the most-advanced stage, invisible, where the system takes care of itself, is adaptable with artificial intelligence (AI), and requires little or no human intervention. Even though from a technology standpoint information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) teams have been collaborating more, OT people need IT more than ever. More flexibility is needed because of pandemic effects, supply chain challenges, geopolitical uncertainties and the war in Europe creating increased cybersecurity risks. Demographics are changing: there are fewer workers, especially in OT areas. Tighter controls save money and improve quality and throughput.

Remote and hybrid work models are changing how we operate. People understand they have to do things differently, especially with supply chain profiteering. Companies that win will be those who positioned well for the next challenge or opportunity. Automation vendors, system integrators and machine builders are understanding that interoperability helps make better use of available data.

OT has to figure out how operations can better integrate IT. Edge technologies help because they’re more flexible and more economical than traditional automation and process controls. There’s definitely greater cooperation between the edge and the cloud.

Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor / content manager since 1994 asked Jason Andersen, vice president strategy and business lines, at Stratus Technologies, for advice about applying industrial edge technologies. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor / content manager since 1994 asked Jason Andersen, vice president strategy and business lines, at Stratus Technologies, for advice about applying industrial edge technologies. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

More about the industrial edge, opportunities, case studies

Andersen, in the 38-minute tutorial video, also addresses:

  • Benefits of industrial edge products, software, and services
  • Comparison of specification, integration, implementation and use of edge technologies to automation and controls.
  • The ways edge technology maintenance differs from automation and controls
  • Go-to-market strategies edge technologies
  • Customer implementations/real world examples using edge technologies
  • Future of edge technology developments
  • Other recommendations and edge technology resources.

Jason Andersen is Stratus vice president strategy and business lines. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Industrial edge, manufacturing flexibility, IT/OT collaboration

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Understand what comprises the industrial edge.

Explore how the industrial edge differs from automation architectures.

Learn about opportunities in industrial edge technologies.

CONSIDER THIS

How can operations improve using edge technologies?

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Videos: www.controleng.com/videos

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Jason Andersen
Author Bio: Jason Andersen, Vice President Business Line Management at Stratus Technologies