Edge Computing Gets a Platform Focus

Recent announcements from Siemens and Stratus Technologies/Rockwell Automation show how edge computing is evolving into a platform for broader industrial digitalization applications.

David Greenfield: For years now, edge computing technologies have been gaining in popularity as a means of onsite equipment data aggregation and analytics—a key component of industrial digitalization. More recently, edge computing has also been gaining wider use for virtualization and providing secure remote access to equipment.

Siemens and Stratus Technologies have announced two new edge computing offerings that extend the use of edge computing beyond the specific applications mentioned above.

Siemens announced the release of its Industrial Edge v1.0 platform which encompasses an edge management system, edge apps, and edge devices. The company describes this platform as a “scalable infrastructure for managing connected edge devices and apps” which can be used to “remotely monitor the status of every connected device and remotely install edge apps and software functions on distributed edge devices.”

Essentially, Siemens Industrial Edge platform enables IT or plant floor personnel to manage distributed edge devices and centrally monitor their operating states. The company says this ability is key to securely rolling out new software applications company-wide on all connected edge devices. It also minimizes the maintenance and updating of distributed software.

Stratus Technologies’ announced its “Solution in a Box” process control architecture running Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx 5.0 (distributed control system) software on the Stratus ztC Edge device. PlantPAx uses a common automation platform to integrate process and discrete control with plant-wide information.

Stratus Technologies’ ztC Edge is part of the company's “Solution in a Box” process control architecture, which runs Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx 5.0 (distributed control system) software on the Stratus device. Source: Stratus TechnologiesStratus Technologies’ ztC Edge is part of the company's “Solution in a Box” process control architecture, which runs Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx 5.0 (distributed control system) software on the Stratus device. Source: Stratus TechnologiesThe “Solution in a Box” architecture includes: Rockwell Automation’s Process Automation System Server with FactoryTalk View (HMI software), FactoryTalk AssetCentre (centralized asset management), FactoryTalk Historian, FactoryTalk VantagePoint (enterprise manufacturing intelligence); Rockwell Automation Application Server-OWS, a ThinManager remote desktop server for remote, mobile, and tablet access; and Stratus ztC Edge 110i.

Stratus says the “Solution in a Box” supports up to 2,000 I/O points, five redundant Logix controllers, 10 clients, and 5,000 historian tags.

“With ztC Edge’s industrial-grade design, teams can now install redundant, virtualized edge computing on the DIN rail in the same cabinet as the PlantPAx DCS controllers, even in harsh environments,” said Frank Hill, director of Rockwell Partnership at Stratus. “In addition, ztC Edge’s built-in virtualization allows users to integrate multiple solutions—PlantPAx applications and Rockwell’s ThinManager that previously required multiple computers—into a single platform which delivers enormous savings for engineering, operations, and maintenance.” 

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