Connecting at the edge instead of depending on the cloud allows sensors and devices used by packaging machines to bypass internet security concerns, maintain quality, and enhance productivity.
Devices connected over IoT use Artificial Intelligence to make decisions and initiate actions, bypassing people altogether, thus making the packaging process faster and simplified. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) elevates the benefits further. It is high time for packaging firms to move to IIoT to ensure that their production line machines coordinate and communicate with each other faster, eliminating human errors.
Most packaging firms rely on the cloud, using an array of servers, apps, storage, programs, and more, for simplified communication and decision-making. The size of these storage devices needs remote locations, and this becomes a big hurdle to agility. While electronic communication might be fast, it’s not instantaneous. The time taken for the data to travel in the cloud indicates a huge latency. This latency of even milliseconds shows up in the revenue loss for packaging firms that they cannot afford.
Considering a situation that a packaging firm is delivering about 600 bottles per minute, the inspection system has 100 milliseconds to click the label, analyze it, and make a decision to reject or approve the product. If this information is sent to the cloud for processing, even a few milliseconds of transmission latency can hobble the camera’s effectiveness.
Edge computing comes as a savior in this situation for the packaging firms. It moves the processing from the cloud to the edge of the network, where the processing is done at the camera station. The image is captured, analyzed, and the decision is made locally. In this case, the data travels inches instead of thousands of miles. System reports to the cloud are sent at regular intervals regarding the rejections and their reasons.
Edge computing not only reduces the amount of data but it also effectively handles time-sensitivity cases, reducing the load on the network. The entire packaging line works on the time-sensitivity factor, so reducing load through edge computing will also make more capacity available for added projects.
The IIoT is all about machines communicating with each other. Linking packaging machines through the cloud is impractical due to capacity constraints and latency. To fight this, the packaging industry is moving to fog computing to connect all machines in a plant. Fog computing handles all communication locally, at the plant level. Packaging leaders have confirmed that they prefer fog computing due to its advanced feedbacks, e.g., if reject levels are abnormal, it sends a text alert to the supervisor. Fog computing also monitors the labels used, analyzing when an AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robot) is to be dispatched to the warehouse to fetch more.
Edge computing is hyper-local and fast but limited. The cloud has nearly unlimited capacity and capability but is slow and distant. That’s where fog computing mediates and plays to the strengths of both for packaging companies.
The packaging industry is now moving to live production operations using edge and fog computing, rather than relying solely on the cloud. Edge and fog computing is shaping the future of packaging firms simplifying operations and enhancing productivity.