Industrial IoT Network Edge

Beacons of Change at the Industrial Network Edge

Manufacturing initiatives such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 (I4.0) are poised to catalyze important business improvements in cost savings, asset optimization, and product and service innovation.  As these internet-enabled business strategies gain traction, the importance of the industrial network edge and its associated assets, processes, and data is increasing. 

Cloud-based enterprise applications require ongoing data flows to and from the myriad of sensors, devices, assets, machinery, and other equipment in the field.  Industrial network edge devices play an important middleware role as the means for interfacing these devices, including legacy installations, to the enterprise.

What Happens at the Edge?

An automotive analogy illustrates this distinction between edge and cloud computing.  Electric cars contain software to assess the health and performance of the batteries.  This battery management system reads data from the sensors, stores it in the car, and uses analytics to alert the driver when health degrades, i.e., small data with edge computing.  When connected to the internet, the data is uploaded to the cloud where more advanced analytics assess performance across a range of cars, driver profiles, driving conditions and climates.  This helps engineers design better batteries and cars, i.e., big data with analytics in the cloud.

At the edge, we have data storage, buffering, communication, filtering/preparation, transportation, and limited analytics (compared to what is available in the cloud).  Typical applications involve algorithms to assess equipment health and alert the operator when issues arise.  In addition, analytics for improved process control have recently started to emerge.  On the cloud, similar applications for health monitoring and process optimization exist, but with the added capability to aggregate data from many IoT devices.  The higher volume of data with its inherent added intricacy are combined with more advanced analytics to anticipate issues further into the future.  Thus, strategic decision support is best in the cloud. The more immediate, tactical decisions can be done at the edge.

Why Use the Edge in Industrial Environments?

In an industrial IoT system with only centralized resources, a network interruption becomes lost data, delayed problem identification, and lost alerts.  This could involve loss of predictive maintenance alerts causing unplanned downtime, or missed opportunities for process optimization.

Resources at the edge help to mitigate these network outage issues. Related constraints with similar impact include network latency (delay) and bandwidth (throughput).  Edge computing helps to mitigate a single point of failure for a more robust IIoT solution when part of the network is compromised by physical (hardware), virtual (software), or security failures.

Usually, most edge data are noise to the larger system in the sense that it has no real use.  For example, when monitoring conditions, do the centralized resources want the data when nothing changed?  When meaningful change is detected, then the data needs to be transferred.  It does no good to use data transport, storage and processing resources putting data into the cloud when it is not useful.

Strategic Issues

IIoT Network EdgeARC has over 30 years’ experience quantifying the industrial automation market.  We provide extensive market coverage of the IIoT endpoint devices and associated network infrastructure used to execute connectivity-enabled business strategies.   Strategic issues covered include:

  • Role of the IIoT Network Infrastructure and Endpoint Devices in Digital Transformation of Industry & Cities
  • What are the prospects for edge computing and embedded enterprise platform agents, and which devices will act as the primary platforms?
  • How large is the Total Available Market (TAM) for IIoT-enabled industrial automation endpoint devices and network infrastructure, and which segments are growing the fastest

Industrial IoT Research Topics

ARC covers a broad spectrum of topics related to the Industrial Internet of Things.  Global Market Research Reports are available for each of the topics below.     Technology Selection Guides are also available for several of the topics below.

IIoT Endpoint Devices - Total Available Market

  • Market data and scope:  logic, motion, and process controllers; drives; sensors; I/O
  • Market Research Report

IIoT Network Edge Infrastructure - Total Available Market

Fixed Industrial Routers

  • Market data and scope:  Ethernet and cellular, cloud integration, edge computing
  • Market Research Report  

Industrial Ethernet Switches

Industrial and IIoT Network Gateways

Industrial Ethernet Endpoint Devices

Wireless Devices in Process Automation

IIoT Edge/Device Level Platforms

  • Market data and scope:  device connectivity, application development, application enablement, analytics, OS platforms
  • Market Research Report 

IoT Cloud Application Platforms

Industrial Cybersecurity

Industrial PCs