Industry 4.0 pushes manufacturers to the edge

The fourth industrial revolution, driven by computing-intensive automation in the manufacturing world, is creating a growing need for micro data centres.

The advent of the fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, has disrupted a long-established tenet of mass manufacturing: centralisation. New manufacturing techniques, such as automated processes and 3D printing, have meant production volumes are no longer so strictly aligned with cost efficiency.

As manufacturers automate their factories, humans are needed less to staff production lines due to connected machines taking on more intelligent operations. Meanwhile, drones are negating the need for centralised distribution networks, forming part of a flexible network of smart factories.

This new world of manufacturing is increasingly supported by edge computing and micro data centres, which extend the edge of the corporate network and spread IT systems across it. Aided by wireless technology, computers communicate constantly with other smart factories in the network. With wireless technology, computers are in constant communication with other smart factories in the network, through the cloud and a range of connected devices.

The computing capacity required to support all of this automated activity can consume enormous resources, generate a lot of heat and create a challenging IT environment. It is critical, therefore, that the high-performance-computing systems that enable smart factories are secure and resilient.

Iceotope, a technology company renowned for its innovative liquid cooling systems, has worked in collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield to solve the problem of dust particles from its carbon fibre laboratories.

With its dust and smoke resistance, Iceotope’s cooling platform keeps factory IT systems immune from harsh environments as well as protecting them from overheating. The small and compact size also means manufacturers can pack more IT power into less space and ultimately consume fewer resources, while the ease of deployment means architects are not needed to get it working.

While micro data centres are more and more popular because of their energy and space efficiencies, they are mainly chosen in edge computing scenarios because of this simplicity of deployment, as well as an easier procurement process as the user only has to deal with one product supplier.