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INDUSTRY 4.0 - Factory Digitalization - pcba

Edge & Cloud Technologies in Electronics Manufacturing

By Greg Benoit, Director of Product Management | February 13, 2023
edge cloud technology electronics manufacturing pcba
While you’re probably already familiar with the term Cloud and what it refers to, you have probably also run across the term Edge. While not new to all IT folks out there, these concepts are relatively new to many others in electronics manufacturing.

With the push for digitalization and advanced analytics, more PCBA manufacturers are having to familiarize themselves with each. What do they do? And why do they matter? In this article, we’ll highlight what you need to know about both options to ensure you choose the right one specifically for your manufacturing operation.

Cloud Technology

The Cloud refers to data storage and computing resources housed in one or more centralized data centers, remote from the end users. These data centers can be hosted by public cloud providers such as Microsoft or Amazon, who own and maintain the data centers and rent their resources to their customers.

Or they can be hosted in a private cloud configuration, meaning they’re hosted by the end user’s company itself in data centers they control. In this paradigm, data that is produced by an end user – by a machine or a sensor – is sent over the internet to the cloud data center for processing, and the results are sent back to the end user to be incorporated.
private public cloud electronics manufacturing
Private vs. Public Cloud in Electronics Manufacturing
While most electronics manufacturers still deploy their solutions on premise, we’re starting to see an increase in cloud usage adoption. The choice to host privately stems mainly from concerns over security and performance: hosting applications in the public cloud means giving up some control, since the rented cloud platform resources are managed by an outside provider and shared with other customers.

Edge Technology

The Edge in this paradigm refers to the location where the data is produced and used. The term originates from network topology diagrams, where the cloud resources are often shown at the top or center of the diagram, and the endpoints are shown out on the periphery, or edge, of the diagram.

The goal of edge computing is to bring processing closer to where the data is actually produced and is used to improve performance – by reducing the latency required to transport and process all data through remote cloud instances. This usually involves adding the necessary storage resources, as well as intelligence, to devices, machines, and servers at or near this edge.

For our industry, the edge typically refers to the factory, and often to the actual shop floor. In this paradigm, the smart devices on this edge – the machines, sensors, and other OT – are what generate the data involved in IIoT.

Edge products are installed on the shop floor, and process data directly in the factory. Edge computing in this context allows for live processing of data for real-time applications, such as our Factory Intelligence Real Time dashboards, and the streaming analytics used in iTAC’s IIoT.Edge product.

What it means for PCBA factories

As mentioned above, iTAC and Cogiscan have edge products that can be deployed alongside other cloud products. The following diagram illustrates how these products are positioned within the electronics manufacturing landscape.
hydrid cloud edge pcba iiot
A perfect hybrid example that leverages both edge and cloud technologies simultaneously is our AI-based IIoT.Edge product. In order to optimize performance, IIoT.Edge is normally run on-premise (edge), but is periodically sent and synched to the cloud in order to make sure its capturing and leveraging the latest AI algorithms available. With this setup, we leverage the collective power of algorithms on the cloud without creating any latency issues that could end up creating major production problems.
iiot.edge graphic cogiscan itac pcba
For electronics manufacturers, the choice between the cloud and the edge will be determined by your specific requirements and the demands of your production processes. The cloud is suitable for large-scale data storage and analysis, while the edge is ideal for real-time data processing and decision-making. We highly recommend utilizing a combination of both, taking advantage of the benefits of both the cloud and the edge to optimize production processes and enhance the quality of your products.
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