Edge computing, AI and cloud: improve production data collection to develop an intelligent factory

Production data collection must lead to the development of a more efficient and sustainable factory in which Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT and a cloud support the transition path. Optimizing and automating company processes allows managers to access all the information necessary for the management and above all control the supply chain.

The updated data for the automation market recorded a growth of 14% for hardware components and 17% for software components in 2021 (source: Anie Automazione), values ​​that far exceed the forecasts made in the first months of the year of +6%.

The more a company is intelligent, that is, permeated by advanced technologies such as AI, and the Internet of Things and able to exploit "as a service" services such as those provided by a cloud, the more it will be able to be guided by data to make decisions that are not only better from an operational point of view, but also economically more advantageous and sustainable.

It needs to be emphasized that the joint use of these technologies also gives the possibility to less structured companies to start a data-driven path in which the data from a simple numerical reading can be transformed into enhanced information and therefore into a strategic asset for the company.

Production data collection for corporate intelligence

IDC - International Data Corporation, a well-known company specialising in market research, has summarized this new paradigm with the concept of “corporate intelligence”. Distributing "intelligence" at every level of a corporation, from management to employees, including the machinery, allows the level of information to be kept constant and increasingly enhanced within the entire perimeter of the company, which in turn can be extended to partners and suppliers. AI and IoT make it possible to maintain the ability to collect data and learn from all the sectors involved in the supply chain.

However, data collection alone is not enough to make change happen. It is necessary to know how to analyze it, qualify it and measure its value. Therefore, an adequate level of corporate literacy becomes indispensable, alongside AI models that can help govern the data and allow this new flow of information to be shared at all company levels.

AI, IoT, cloud: the investment is worth it 

The joint use of Artificial Intelligence and IoT devices makes it possible to apply predictive analysis, automation and control functions in production processes. The hyper-connection and retrofitting of machinery not natively connected to the corporation’s network allows an increase in the degree of control, even remotely, of important elements of the production chain. This control enables economically decisive policies such as those of predictive maintenance while, from a production point of view, it allows an increase in quality levels while reducing processing waste. This translates into a substantial benefit for the entire supply chain: more support results in a significant reduction in costs and delivery times, also improving the customer experience.

Here, in summary, terms, are some of the benefits of AI-optimized production data collection:

  • Predictive analysis for faults and malfunctions
  • Better management of supplies and spare parts
  • Reduction of production bottlenecks
  • Identification of any production anomalies
  • Sustainability of production with a reduction of plant energy consumption through consumption balancing models

Edge computing, AI and cloud: speed and return on investment

In particular critical areas of the IT infrastructure or in all those cases where it is necessary to reduce latency and ensure greater security or data sovereignty, it may be more convenient to relocate the data center and bring it close to the devices and machinery with edge computing solutions. Reliable solutions are required, highly compatible with both the most modern and older machinery, which allow a significant reduction in energy consumption and more advantageous data analysis costs.

Thanks to a solid experience in hardware and software design and integration, SECO can provide customized edge devices to best meet different needs, which allows the improvement of the ROI thanks to efficient management of the available bandwidth and reduced consumption in the phases of extraction, processing and sending of data. To meet the needs of all customers, SECO handles the entire production cycle, from development to design and verification, up to certification and production. But that's not all: with CLEA, SECO supports corporations in their digital transformation with a complete range of elements that combine edge and AI.

CLEA is SECO's AI as a service platform that, combining Artificial Intelligence, IoT, cloud computing and Big Data Analysis, quickly connects edge devices to a cloud and facilitates real-time monitoring, data analysis, predictive maintenance, remote software updates and more. With CLEA, any device can become an intelligent connected device, capable of maximizing the value of AI in every area. Thanks to a modular AI App Store, standard or customizable applications can enable new functionalities and intelligent technologies, exploiting the benefits of Edge AI, Cloud AI and Explainable AI (XAI).

If taken separately, edge computing and AI can bring significant benefits to corporations. Combined they can truly transform the business strategy, reducing the time and costs of data processing and improving security. With its complete range from Edge to AI, SECO can support corporations in the implementation of this technology, allowing them to adopt a new data-driven approach.