Friedhelm Loh Group
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German Edge Cloud demonstrates that edge computing is a key technology for smart factories

The increasingly digital nature of factories is transforming manufacturers into service providers who make products. The huge volume of data generated in these facilities is the basis for new value creation models – provided these data are captured, saved, processed and intelligently analysed in a timely, local manner. This is because low latency is essential to the implementation of many Industry 4.0 use cases – such as forms of real-time industrial artificial intelligence (AI) that give companies full control over their data. The key to rapid availability and processing is edge computing.

Edge computing entails the processing of data at the periphery of a network – in other words, as close as possible to the place where it is generated. This means data can be made available in near real time. Transmission and response times are kept to an absolute minimum, allowing data to be processed extremely quickly. They do not have to be transferred over significant distances to conventional or cloud data centres.

“The low latency is the vital basis for new technologies such as virtual/augmented reality assistance systems and industrial analytics and AI. As a result, companies can automate processes and identify potential bottlenecks before they become critical. This offers cost savings and enables new data- and service-based business models. As Dr Sebastian Ritz, CEO of German Edge Cloud (GEC), explains, edge computing is already widely regarded as a vital key technology for IoT and Industry 4.0, and for self-driving vehicles.

Edge computing versus cloud computing: retaining control over data

Edge computing is a local network architecture that offers support where cloud services are unable to deliver the required latency and data volumes. In contrast to conventional cloud computing, edge computing takes the shape of an on-site physical “box” – the data centre is installed directly in the industrial facility. All captured data remain where they are generated, and the user organisation retains total control – and can decide for themselves whether to transfer the processed data to a specific cloud or a supply-chain partner.

The importance of control is also illustrated by Dr Sebastian Ritz by means of a task frequently encountered by automotive component suppliers: “OEMs such as BMW and VW are currently implementing digital production platforms on the basis of global public cloud services available from vendors such as Amazon and Microsoft. Suppliers must make their data available in a corresponding form, but wish to safeguard their intellectual property. As a result, we recommend the deployment of an open edge platform that ensures they retain control over their data.”

Faster and simpler usage of industrial data

German Edge Cloud provides customers and partners with edge cloud infrastructure (IaaS), platforms for data analytics (PaaS) and industry-specific AI applications (SaaS) in an industrial edge cloud appliance – including comprehensive service. The solution also extends to a complete on-premises edge infrastructure – i.e. a data centre appliance with IT hardware – and a ready-to-go industrial edge cloud platform and the corresponding industrial IoT applications. Everything is offered as a complete service. GEC implements the edge cloud solution on-site, on or near the shop floor.

“We want to give companies rapid, simple and end-to-end access to and usage of valuable industrial data. In conjunction with complete customer control of their data, an open platform architecture and the integration of partner IIoT solutions, this is the intelligent response to the increasing complexity of production data processing,” concludes Dr Sebastian Ritz. “On 10 October, we will be presenting a new product, an Industrial Edge Cloud Appliance, to be launched jointly with leading German industrial partners and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft,” adds Ritz.

Corporate Communications

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Image: Edge computing: data processing at the network periphery

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