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Hybrid systems
There is a lot of talk about Cloud computing and the advantages of moving applications to the cloud to simplify the computing skills and expensive equipment required on each manufacturing site. For applications where there is relatively infrequent use of the software such as accounting or design or MES, this works well. 

However, for the latest possibilities bought about be comunication protocols like umati, the quantity of data can be potentially very large and continuous as it is coming from sensors on the machine.

The problem here is the limitation of bandwidth and lag in response, attempting to send such large volumes of data all the time. This is covered by edge computing, a concept which processes this type of data locally and sends the processed information from it to the cloud in batches. This still makes use of the data, extracting the useful part locally and sending that to the cloud to be used and combined with other data to give the user the required results and reports.

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Hybrid technology - Edge computing is something that has been around for some time and has been used by mobile phone companies and others. It uses localised servers where the processing takes place then sending the aggregated information up to the cloud. For a lot of companies this provides a bit of extra security as there are issues of confidentiality for many components and assemblies and also, the potential disruption from inaccesible data can be severe.

However, although this can be a worry, the security provided by offsite servers can be significantly more reliable than in house computer hardware. Not only can the servers be the best available, but the technical support and backup facilities are likely to be more robust than an inhose system can offer, saving money on reinvestment in computer equipment and finding and employing people with the right skill levels.

Here is something from Lantek about how they see Edge computing will be a normal part of the Industry 4.0 infrastructure as more machines are fitted with sensors and the amount of data available increases exponetially.

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