Advancing Toward Industry 4.0
Digital transformation fueled by artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and cloud technology is driving new capabilities within the industrial sector. Machine vision can check for defects, read bar codes, and confirm the correct label positioning on products. Sensors on an assembly line can be networked to track equipment performance from edge to cloud and inform preventive maintenance. AI-enabled robotics can automate manufacturing and logistics to boost efficiency. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) can help workers maintain social distancing by supporting virtualized control applications that are managed remotely through the cloud.
Historically, factory operators have taken a siloed approach to managing machinery technology. That means PLCs, programmable automation controllers (PACs), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and industrial PCs (IPCs) are installed and managed individually. This can lead to challenges when incorporating modern capabilities into legacy equipment. For example, attaching an AI-enabled camera to a robot that paints car doors may improve quality control, but it requires the management of disparate systems. In the long run, this can cause problems with interoperability and lead to production inefficiency.
Intel® Architecture Drives IT and OT Convergence
IT/OT convergence is the integration of information technology (IT), the hardware and software that process data, with operational technology (OT), the systems that control industrial operations.
The right underlying architecture simplifies IT/OT convergence by making it possible to design, scale, and run separate functions on one united, cloud-like platform—even when supporting legacy machines is necessary. Intel provides this foundation with the hardware building blocks and specialized technologies to consolidate discrete functions—including process control, visualization, and data acquisition—at the industrial edge. Intel® products and technologies for IT/OT convergence include:
- High-performance silicon enhanced for IoT with options for demanding industrial applications. Processors are ideal for converging edge applications that would otherwise require multiple CPUs, GPUs, and accelerators. Capabilities can be added over several years without full reconfiguration.
- Two scalable software platforms —Intel® Edge Controls for Industrial and Intel® Edge Insights for Industrial —designed to optimize and securely run multiple applications. New capabilities, such as AI, can be added and modified over time without risking downtime.
- Reference hardware architectures and market-ready solutions (MRS) available through an extensive ecosystem of partners for easier integration of new capabilities with existing systems.
- Industrial computing platforms built on open architecture that allow data-centric IT protocols to be integrated into legacy machines through virtualized applications.
This future-ready architecture helps factory operators streamline the deployment of industrial IoT solutions while improving efficiency and management. By moving to an open, fully programmable, standards-based unified system, enterprises can avoid the need for disparate systems and the resources it takes to manage them.