“Fog computing”: Hybrid MES guarantees stable and secure production even with cloud operation
Hybrid MES guarantees stable and safe production
Experts agree: “Fog computing” paves the way to the vision of “cloud computing” and its software-as-a-service concept for the store floor. PROXIA Software AG has already geared its MES-Software portfolio towards the future.
The fog around “cloud computing” is clearing. While cloud computing is set as a strategic IT goal in almost every major manufacturing company, it is often unclear how a corresponding software-as-a-service concept can actually be achieved in practice via business cases. As a first practicable step, PROXIA Software AG from Ebersberg near Munich has now encapsulated its MES functions with a so-called “Fog Computing Layer” in order to divide the path to “Cloud Computing” into economically attractive stages.
The term “fog computing”, also known as “local cloud”, is derived from the term “fog” and refers to a network structure (“fog layer”) in which data generated by edge devices is not loaded directly into the cloud for processing, but is first preprocessed in a decentralized manner. In this way, the data streams, for example from the PLC controls of the machining centers, are analyzed on site in a resource-saving manner and only relevant data extracts are sent to the cloud. By way of background: Often the bandwidth is not available or the connection is interrupted for a short time, so that it is not possible to send large volumes of data to an external data center (“cloud”) in a process-safe manner. A “Fog Layer” however, as used in PROXIA’s current solution, prevents this by acting as a buffer. All PROXIA MES functions are encapsulated accordingly for this purpose.
Highest data security and low latency times
The basic idea of the “Fog Layer” is to first condense data and only then send it to the cloud. This has a number of advantages: Not only are long latency times avoided, but costs are also saved. This is because most business models around cloud computing envisage revenue models based on transactions – it is not the data processing that goes into the money, but the transfer of the data back and forth. So sending large amounts of raw, unprocessed data to the cloud is a costly proposition. In addition, the issue of data security plays a crucial role: the data must be encrypted because they are exposed to hacker attacks, especially when transferred to the cloud. The “Fog Computing” concept used by PROXIA takes this aspect into account, because the semantic description of the data, the so-called metadata (descriptive structural information of the raw data), is located in the so-called “Fog Layer” in PROXIA MES and thus separated from the raw data. This separation serves the important data security requirements of manufacturing companies. The metadata that is particularly coveted by computer criminals is stored in a specially protected location at PROXIA MES and is therefore protected from unauthorized access from the outside.