Manufacturers are undergoing fast, disruptive changes in their operations as they automate their facilities with IoT, smart sensors, AI and robotics, new research from IDC reveals.

According to survey data from IDC Research, sponsored by Lumen Technologies, 74% of operational data will be acquired, analyzed, and acted on within the factory. Edge computing approaches put data processing and storage closer to the network edge where people, processes and items in motion reside, the two said in a release.

“In manufacturing, a company cannot have a cloud strategy without an edge strategy," said Jonathan Lang, research manager of worldwide IT/OT convergence strategies with IDC.

“Edge computing can address the latency, reliability, and security requirements of industrial operations while opening the world of possibilities that remote connectivity offers. (Its) use cases can increase Industry 4.0 maturity and support the resilient decision-making necessary to thrive in today’s markets.”

Manufacturers, added Lang, know that machine-to-machine communication and data exchange are nothing new, but the “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and cloud-based analytics are enabling new methods of optimizing production and delivering services to customers through Industry 4.0 use cases and capabilities.

“These opportunities exist where data and connectivity extend beyond traditional boundaries to new audiences and decision-makers Yet reduced latency, reliability, and data security become risks if this connection is not executed in an intelligent way In manufacturing, IDC asserts that a company cannot have a cloud strategy without an edge strategy

“This critical exchange addresses the latency, reliability, and security requirements of industrial operations while opening the world of possibilities that remote connectivity offers The new use cases that edge computing enables can increase Industry 4 0 maturity and support the resilient decision-making necessary to thrive in today’s market.”

Lumen said in a release that as manufacturers “look to gain a competitive advantage, they must continually improve process efficiency and data plays a key part. Edge computing also plays a critical role in improving process efficiency as it is essential to connecting operational data and assets and complements both cloud computing and the IoT.

“With edge computing, manufacturers can monitor overall equipment effectiveness across the factory floor through IoT and smart sensors and use predictive maintenance tools to detect and fix potential problems before they happen.

“Edge computing can also enable real-time asset tracking and increased visibility across the supply chain, analytics driven procurement, and real-time inventory management for an efficient and transparent value chain.

“The industrial environment is changing faster than ever, and manufacturing resiliency relies on data for rapid and effective decisions. Edge computing will play an important role in any manufacturer's connectivity strategy in part to manage essential data.”

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