Process Automation: An Introduction to Edge Computing 

From pneumatic controllers to electronic PID controllers, Process Automation has seen various developments since the dawn of industries. With the advent of IoT and AI, it has now become possible to move beyond responsive correction of function in a process. You can now collect, analyze, visualize and most importantly make predictions of the future state of the process. This allows for cleaner and more efficient manufacturing.

Edge Computing has been a big enabler for Industrial IoT and AI-based control of processes. In this article, we will take a look at components of Edge Computing that enable intelligent decision-making at the source of information creation.


What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing gets its name from being able to compute at the edge of the network or outside of the Cloud near the data source. An edge computing device can be thought of as singular or multiple hardware devices that help you fulfill the requirements of edge computing for the process being analyzed.

Within a plant, there can be one or more processes. Let us say that we are planning to control one of these processes with our edge computing device. It helps to imagine a process as an orchestra and the edge computing device as the orchestra conductor. The conductor controls the orchestra to make sure the performance is melodic. The conductor uses their auditory sense and their understanding of music to figure out how well the performance is going. They then use their baton and gestures to signal to the musicians how they should tweak their playing.


Similarly, the edge computing device gathers input from sensors, the gathered data is then sent through algorithms running on the edge computing device, and the device then gives corrective output via the output devices.


In further articles, we shall discuss the following various components that makeup edge computing, such as:

●     Edge Computing - Hardware

       ○    Hardware

        ○    Hardware Accelerated AI

●     Edge Computing - Software, Connectivity & Security

        ○    Software

        ○    Software Updates

        ○    Security

        ○    Internet Connectivity

●     Edge Computing - Input / Output Devices

        ○    Data acquisition from a process and corrective output

        ○    Human Machine Interface

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