Edge devices are pieces of equipment that serve to transmit data between the local network and the cloud. They are able to translate between the protocols, or languages, used by local devices into the protocols used by the cloud where the data will be further processed. Local devices use protocols like Bluetooth, wi-fi, Zigbee, and NFC while the cloud uses protocols like AMQP, MQTT, CoAP, and HTTP. In order for IoT data to move between the cloud and local devices, an edge device—like a smart gateway—translates, sorts, and securely transfers information between the two sources.
Without an edge device, these types of data would be incompatible and unable to reach cloud services for deep analysis. The MachineMetrics Edge is one security-conscious example of this technology. It can be configured as an Edge Pro to support up to 50 machines over a network, or installed near, and powered by, a single machine as an Edge.
The MachineMetrics Edge device.
Edge devices are critical for modern industrial IoT implementations, especially for tasks that require real-time data analysis. IoT Edge devices offer a reliable, low-latency solution for local data analysis. In a manufacturing environment, edge devices have the following benefits:
Because edge devices translate and transmit local data and cloud data through their associated protocols, IIoT systems utilizing edge devices reap the benefits of real-time local analysis as well as robust cloud-based analysis and storage. Cloud computing benefits manufacturers in the following ways:
However, cloud computing requires network connectivity, increases latency over local computing, and requires reliance upon 3rd party security. Edge computing, on the other hand, provides low-latency, reliable computing that can be deployed in areas with no network connections or in extreme security conditions where 3rd-party security is disallowed. However, data can become incomplete due to the higher cost of storage, and local computing has higher overall maintenance than cloud computing because it must be managed in-house.
With edge computing, IIoT systems get the best of both worlds. Bridging the gap with IoT edge devices offers manufacturers unprecedented flexibility, reliability, and speed in a cost-controlled, security-conscious way.
Edge computing devices are a crucial component in creating a digital twin of a manufacturing facility. Other reasons edge devices and edge gateways are critical for modern IIoT infrastructure include:
Learn more about edge devices and edge analytics free edge eBook, which explores the important role of the edge in enabling manufacturing analytics. Or learn more about the MachineMetrics Edge Platform built for manufacturers.
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