Preparing the Industrial Network Edge for the Demands of Internet-Enabled Strategies

By Chantal Polsonetti

ARC Report Abstract

The industrial network edge and the devices associated with it have emerged as a primary vehicle for delivering incremental business value via internet-enabled business strategies, such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 (I4.0). Digitization, IIoT, and I4.0 are increasingly seen as the means to reduce production downtime, increase production flexibility, and/or achieve a connected and secure infrastructure. To improve manufacturing business performance and product quality, manufacturers must be able to dynamically access, monitor, manage, control, and optimize the associated machines, processes, and/or end products.

These prospects herald the dawning of a new age at the industrial network edge, one that manufacturers need to heed as they prepare for and implement internet-based business strategies. This preparation extends to ensuring that what enterprise applications view as “the network edge” meets the requirements for successfully executing connectivity-enabled business strategies.

It is important to begin by recognizing that internet-enabled strategies represent and necessitate a departure from the traditionally vertically siloed “us” vs. “them” (production/OT vs. enterprise/IT) mentality that has historically pervaded manufacturing firms. Success with internet-enabled business improvement requires true convergence of information technology, operational technology, and engineering technology to enable the access, transparency, security, and execution capabilities needed to deliver on its significant promise.

This has numerous implications throughout the architecture. This report is designed to prepare those responsible for the industrial network edge portion by highlighting current and prospective demands on edge devices and how to best fulfill them. For the purposes of this discussion, industrial network edge devices include both network edge infrastructure products, (such as gateways, routers, and switches), as well as higher-level end devices that increasingly include edge capabilities (such as PLCs, HMIs, and other microprocessor-based automation stalwarts).

Table of Contents

  • Executive Overview

  • Concrete Business Value Propositions Driving Internet-enabled Strategies

  • Internet-enabled Business Strategies Rely Heavily on the Network Edge

  • The Impact on the Edge

  • Clustered Gateway Approach Can Provide Interim Solution

  • Recommendations


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Keywords: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0 (I4.0), Digitization, Industrial Network Edge, Edge Devices, ARC Advisory Group.


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