With the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0, the use of smart edge devices is becoming more common in factory automation. A wide variety of these smart edge devices are being used for data collection and control, but what exactly one is depends on who you ask. Smart edge devices don't necessarily make a smart machine.
What exactly is a smart edge device? What real work are these computing devices and microcomputers doing at the edge? And do these smart edge devices make machines smarter and improve manufacturing?
Taking a step back from the edge, Rich Carpenter, general manager controls platforms, GE Automation and Control asks, "In today's modern era, are smart edge devices re-defining the traditional control loop that has been in place for about 50 years? Collect your inputs, run your logic and set your outputs is how we have been doing it for a long time. In today's world and moving forward, you have to incorporate the results of analytics and optimization that happen outside of the normal control loop. The smart edge device is a critical link between what the traditional control system can do and the rich set of information available at the plant, enterprise and even the ecosystem level that can be incorporated into the day-to-day control decisions."