Is Your Project on the Edge of Destruction? How to Make Edge Computing Reliable

a picture of earth from a satellite with lines representing the internet

Mallory McGuinness | January 21, 2021

According to IDC, by 2025, there will be 55.7 B connected devices globally, 75% of which will be connected to an IoT platform. Imagine if just half of these ran computing tasks for other services and devices. This sizeable, interconnected network would be especially valuable for edge computing.

Edge Computing Challenges

On a macro-level, the word edge means literal geographic distribution. Edge computing is done near the data source by IoT devices, rather than relying on cloud-based data centers to do all of the work. In other words, edge computing brings the cloud to harsh environments where electronics are deployed. These environments present liquids, corrosives, contaminants, and wide temperature ranges that can jeopardize sensitive circuitry. Therefore, it’s necessary to reliably protect the board, component, or device itself from these hazards so that edge computing can run reliably.

Achieving edge reliability through protecting jeopardized electronics is a formidable challenge. Older protection methods, such as gaskets and seals, can become dislodged, causing the need for repairs and service calls or downtime as connected components fail. Furthermore, traditional conformal coatings can be thick, and their application methods are obtuse, opening the risk for coating defects.

What Edge Computing Means for the Industrial Environment

Edge computing delivers essential benefits to the industrial market, such as lower latency, more privacy and security, bandwidth savings, and the ability to circumvent the cloud when making decisions has connotations that prove beneficial to industrial processes.

Additionally, the distributed nature of industrial operations and edge devices complement cloud computing. Organizations can take advantage of operational intelligence required at the industrial edge, augmenting big data analytics in the cloud.

Watch our webinar on how to make industrial applications more reliable. 

Two Edge Computing Examples for the Industrial Market

Oil and Gas

Because oil and gas failures can be catastrophic, their assets need careful monitoring. Unfortunately, oil and gas plants are frequently in remote locations. With edge computing, real-time analytics are enabled with processing closer to the asset, diminishing reliance on quality connectivity to a centralized cloud.

As different data sources across systems, sensors, or devices are integrated, data must be contextualized, analyzed, and filtered into digital models of processes relevant to operations. The digital models repeatedly learn then predict operational impact, such as leaking gas, pipeline vandalism, fixed or mobile equipment health issues, and environmental implications to optimize them.

IIoT applications, in combination with edge computing, enables operations to run in a predictive manner, more efficiently and smoothly.

Smart Grids

As smart grids are widely adopted, edge computing is a core technology that allows organizations to manage their energy consumption more efficiently. IIoT devices and sensors connected to an edge platform in plants, factories, and offices are employed to monitor energy use and analyze their consumption in real-time. Energy companies and enterprises can strike new deals with real-time visibility, for example, when high-powered machinery runs during off-peak times to meet electricity demand.

Environments present liquids, corrosives, contaminants, and wide temperature ranges that can jeopardize sensitive circuitry.


Overcoming Edge Computing Challenges

As mentioned, edge computing is often performed in the harshest of environments. Oil and gas locations have millions of miles of pipelines that must be monitored through exposure to corrosives and contaminants, and temperature extremes. If an integral device were to fail due to corrosion or liquid ingress, it could cause downtime, which can be costly. Oil and gas operators can lose between $49 million to $88 million a year due to downtime. On the other hand, smart grid-connected components face severe weather conditions, which can cause power outages if components fail in the face of these elements. For large organizations, an outage’s cost can escalate into millions of dollars per hour in downtime.

For edge computing to be successful, reliability challenges must be overcome. IIoT devices are portable or integrated into other systems, so they require a small form-factor. And to reduce the cost of maintenance and avoid destructive power outages or periods of downtime, they must be durable.

That’s where HZO steps in, with next-generation protection solutions, namely thin-film coatings, such as Parylene conformal coating, and protective nanocoatings, which provide dependable protection at a competitive price-point. Our coatings deposit directly on the surface of PCBAs, with consistent, uniform coverage that is defect-free, offering superior protection at a fraction of the thinness of traditional coatings. Since our inception, we have not experienced a single product return due to coating issues. With HZO, you don’t have to worry about the unexpected. Our tech team has you covered. Reach out to speak to an industrial SME now.

With HZO, you don’t have to worry about the unexpected.

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

Ryan Moore

Ryan is a 9-year veteran to the world of protecting electronics from harsh environments and a lover of all things technology.

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