Edge computing, as the name implies, is designed to power applications, data use and computing services at the edge of a network – regardless of where that edge is located. That often means being built to withstand a wide range of operating temperatures, shock and vibration, varied voltage inputs, dust and debris, and more without sacrificing the ability to seamlessly integrate with existing deployments or critical performance and reliability. Here are 11 examples of edge and cloud computing applications helping power the connectivity our modern world has come to rely on.
Examples of Edge Computing Success across a Wide Range of Industries
These examples highlight the breadth of applications edge computing solutions can elevate:
1. Autonomous Vehicles
Rugged edge computers enable autonomous vehicles because they can gather the data produced by vehicle sensors and cameras, process it, analyze it, and make decisions in just a few milliseconds. Millisecond decision making is a requirement for autonomous vehicles because if vehicles cannot react fast enough to their environment, they will collide with other vehicles, humans, or other objects. Relying on the cloud to analyze vehicle data present latency issues that can only be overcome by processing data locally at the edge at the source of data generation, which eliminates the need for data to travel thousands of miles to a data center for analysis and decision making.
Furthermore, the ruggedness of rugged edge computers allows them to withstand deployment in vehicles where they are subjected to frequent shock and vibration, dust, debris, and extreme temperatures. The rugged design and build quality allows them to operate reliably and optimally without interruption. For example, the fanless design of rugged edge computers allows them to withstand exposure to dust and small particles since the system is ventless because there is no need to circulate air to cool down the system. Systems are passively cooled via the use of heatsink, transferring heat away from the internal components to the outer enclosure of the system.
2. Fleet Management
Rugged edge computers are often deployed in fleet vehicles, allowing organizations to intelligently management their vehicle fleets. Rugged edge PCs can tap into the CANBus network of vehicles, collecting a variety of rich information, such as mileage per gallon, vehicle speed, on/off status of vehicle, engine speed, and many other relevant information. Moreover, rugged edge computers can collect more data from cameras and sensors deployed on the vehicle. All of this collected data can be leveraged by fleet companies to improve the performance of their fleet, as well as to reduce the operation costs of the fleet. Rugged edge computers are hardened to withstand exposure to challenging environmental conditions that are commonly found in vehicles. Such challenging conditions include exposure to shock, vibration, dust, and extreme temperatures.
3. Industrial Automation and Control
Rugged industrial computers are often deployed in factories and manufacturing facilities for industrial automation and control. That is, they are used in industrial settings to enable communication between factory machinery, sensors, equipment, and other devices, as well as enabling them to connect to the internet to offload critical information to the cloud for remote monitoring and control. Moreover, rugged computers are great because they can consolidate workloads by grouping multiple operations onto a single system, replacing separate purpose-built hardware machines with rugged edge computing devices. For example, in industrial settings, you’ll often find PLCs (programmable logic controllers) and HMIs (human-machine interfaces) running fixed function applications. Such a decentralized system increases complexity and increases maintenance costs. Consolidating workloads onto a single platform, such as a rugged edge computer addresses these issues and simplifies the system.
4. Machine and Computer Vision
Rugged edge computers are being used in industrial settings to run machine vision applications. For example, rugged edge computers are often connected to high-speed cameras and infrared sensors that capture a video or photo of the product, analyzing it in real time to determine whether the product has any defects. If there are any defects, the product is flagged for further inspection or is removed from the assembly line. Machine vision can also be used for other applications. For example, some farmers use machine vision to inspect crops and find ripe crops that are ready to be harvested. Crops that meet certain requirements are harvested without destroying crop that is not yet ripe for harvesting. Typically edge computers that are tasked with performing machine vision are equipped with a performance accelerators for extra processing power. GPUs and VPUs are often used to accelerate machine vision applications.
5. Predictive Maintenance
Rugged edge computers are often used by organizations because they can gather information from various sensors, cameras, and other devices, and they can use that information to determine when components or certain machinery fails. Predicting when a machine or component will fail allows factory operators to perform maintenance on the machine or replace a component before a failure occurs during normal machine operation, saving organizations costs from lost productivity and missing delivery times and expectations.
This is different from the traditional model where organizations conducted routine diagnosis and inspections, which is labor intensive and costly. Moreover, with the traditional model it is difficult to perform maintenance before a component or machine fails. With predictive maintenance, organizations can intervene and maintain machinery and equipment before the failure ever occurs.
6. Remote Monitoring of Oil & Gas Assets
Because rugged edge computers are hardened, they can be deployed in oil and gas fields where the temperatures often reach and slightly exceed 50°C without running into thermal issues such as thermal throttling. Rugged edge computing solutions can be used to monitor the large number of assets deployed in the fields to ensure that oil and gas production facility runs smoothly without interruptions to field operations. Rugged edge computers are used to monitor the performance and control the oil production process. For example, rugged edge computers are used to monitor the fuel flow in pipelines, providing oil production facilities with invaluable insights into the flow metrics and pipeline performance so that operators can quickly uncover and respond to any critical issues that may arise.
7. Intelligent Transportation Systems
There are many components to intelligent transportation systems. Rugged edge computers can be deployed to enable passenger information systems, vehicle monitoring and tracking systems, intelligent surveillance of transportation vehicles and stations, intelligent traffic management systems, and autonomous transportation vehicles. At the heart of all of these intelligent transportation systems are edge computing devices.
For example, passenger information systems rely on rugged edge computers, which are installed in transportation vehicles to track them, and relay information such as vehicle speed, vehicle location, and traffic to the cloud. The information is then analyzed and disseminated to passenger, informing them via digital signage or application as to the status of their transportation vehicle. This allows them to better plan their trips and commutes using public transportation by taking the guesswork as to when a vehicle will arrive.
8. Smart Agriculture
Rugged edge computers are deployed as IoT gateways for smart agriculture applications. For example, edge computing solutions are deployed to gather information from sensors used to monitor the weather conditions, quality of soil, wetness of the soil, the sunlight, and other information that’s vital to improve the growth of crops. Moreover, edge computers can be used to predict the crop output, allowing farmers to better plan the distribution of their crops once they’re ready to be cultivated and sold. Also, edge computers are often used in greenhouses to gather real-time information on growing conditions, such as the lighting, temperature, soil condition, and humidity, allowing farmers to adjust the environments for optimal crop growth.
9. Smart Surveillance
Rugged edge NVR computers enable the deployment of surveillance systems in harsh environments where regular computers cannot survive. Rugged NVR computers are used to gather, process, and analyze video footage, only sending footage that sets off certain triggers to the cloud for remote monitoring and analysis. This reduces the amount of required internet bandwidth, since not all video footage has to be sent to the cloud, only specific clips where triggers have been set off are sent for additional analysis and inspection. This is different from the traditional model where all video footage was sent to the cloud for remote monitoring and analysis. Deploying rugged NVR computers to manage smart surveillance systems is especially beneficial for those on metered data plans where they pay for the data that they use.
10. Military and Defense
Rugged industrial computers are often used for military applications on the ground, at sea, and in the air. The military uses a wide variety of industrial PCs that include rack-mount military computer, industrial touchscreen PCs, embedded PCs, and wall mount computers. Rugged industrial computers are designed and built to endure the challenging environments in which they are deployed. The military uses industrial PCs for video processing, data acquisition, and for in vehicle applications.
11. Kiosk Machines
Rugged edge computers are often used to power interactive kiosk machines such as the ones you often pass by or use while you’re at the airport or supermarket. Interactive kiosk machines utilized rugged edge computers because they have a rich I/O that allows the system to connect to the various peripherals found on kiosk machines, as well as the hardened design of the system that enables the deployment of kiosk machines indoors and outdoors. Hardened edge computers keep kiosk machines only 24/7 regardless of challenging environmental conditions. Rugged edge computers deliver the performance necessary to power kiosk machines while maintaining power efficiency.
Discover Hardware Solutions that can accelerate edge computing deployments:
- Autonomous Vehicles and Fleet Telematics Managment
- Industrial and Factory Automation
- Kiosk Machines
- Mining Automation
- Rugged NVR Security and Surveillance
- Rugged Edge Computing
The Benefits of Edge Computing
Edge computing offers a variety of benefits. Edge computing solutions keep costs low with lower operating costs and longevity, save key bandwidth and reduce network traffic, and empower real-time processing unburdened by latency issues that can cause serious derailments of key processes.
They also offer four key attributes that elevate those organizations taking advantage of edge computing – robust security, impressive scalability to grow alongside an operation, versatility to tackle varied challenges, and reliability users can count on.
Edge Computing vs. Cloud Computing
The biggest difference between edge computing and cloud computing surrounds centralization. Whereas cloud computing is centralized, like in the “core” of a network, edge computing is decentralized in order to empower use on the edge.
Leveraging edge computing offers certain benefits that can’t be achieved by cloud computing, alone. In particular, putting the computing power at the edge helps to reduce latency and provide data processing at the source, not potentially many miles away.
However, this doesn’t mean that cloud computing is going anywhere. The two can certainly be combined, forming a well-rounded ecosystem that empowers operators to choose the best use of each to get the most out of a holistic network.
Edge Computing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is edge computing used for?
Applications on the “edge” of a network, closer to the devices and end users producing key data. It is a decentralized form of computing that empowers these solutions to get closer to the action than ever before.
2. Why does edge computing matter?
Edge computing brings powerful benefits, particularly in the form of reduced latency, performance under harsh conditions, and more.
3. What is driving edge computing?
Industries like autonomous vehicles, the advent of smarter cities, and powerful connectivity rollouts like 5G – all combined with computing and data processing applications in harsh locations – are driving edge computing adoption.
4. How does edge computing complement 5G?
Because 5G will power lower latency and higher speeds, it and edge computing go hand in hand to deliver key benefits in migrating network applications to the edge.
Premio is proud to live on the front lines of edge computing’s advancement, and we’re committed to helping you find the ideal solution for your unique needs.