Industry 4.0 will see a shift to hybrid computing
Rob Powell, commercial director of Lantek Systems Ltd, explains how future computer systems will change as manufacturers adopt Industry 4.0
Posted on 23 May 2020 and read 475 times
Rob Powell, commercial director of Malvern-based Lantek Systems Ltd (www.lantek.com
), says that the future of Industry 4.0 will change how computer systems are structured: “There has been a considerable amount of publicity about the advantages of cloud computing — and rightly so. The advantages are clear, as it removes the need to have skilled people to set up and run complex in-house computer networks; it also removes the need to invest in expensive equipment and continually re-invest to keep it up to date.
“Furthermore, it makes updating software products much simpler. Rather like the updates to your lap-top and phone, it all happens automatically. In the past, engineers had to load up new versions themselves; this inevitably led to a surge in support queries and down-time for the customer, as misunderstandings and errors in the update process made it impossible to work.
“Now, there is a move towards a hybrid approach that uses Edge technology, where some of the processes take place locally, yet it still sends the processed data to the cloud. Among the drivers for this change are the new possibilities created by communication protocols such as umati.”
A common communication protocol for transferring data — umati is being developed and rolled out for CNC machines to work with software that manages and implements processes such as MES (manufacturing execution systems). Mr Powell said: “umati and other IoT systems can also connect any machine or piece of equipment in the factory via IIoT devices, which is where Edge technology becomes important.
“The main difference about this data is the volume being generated, as it comes automatically from IIoT devices on the machine, rather than from human input. Trying to send all this to the cloud with all the other data from MES — such as accounting and stock control — will result in an unacceptable lag in response times and an overloaded bandwidth.
“The objective of Edge technology is to process the data from these IIoT devices locally and then to send the aggregated results up to the cloud in batches. There, it is combined with other cloud data already being processed to produce useful information that will optimise the operation of the factory.”