Embracing the edge to improve automation systems

by | Feb 15, 2024 | Control & Safety Systems, Digital Transformation, Discrete Automation

Simona Del Grande

Simona Del Grande

Global PR Manager, Discrete Automation

Industrial manufacturing automation technologies have long been perceived as lagging the technologies available for commercial and consumer applications.

This situation was largely by design because mission-critical production demanded proven performance, as opposed to cutting-edge convenience.

An Emerson article in the March 2023 issue of Control Engineering, titled Evaluating Edge Opportunities for Industrial Automation, explores how now this pattern has changed due to the availability of evolved and capable industrial digital transformation technologies. End users, OEMs, and systems integrators are now investigating the practical benefits, upgrade options, and cybersecurity provisions associated with using the most up to date industrial internet of things (IIoT) technologies.

Edge to cloud

Industrial edge applications are not just fashionable; they are essential to access valuable data which may have been stranded due to physical isolation, non-digitalization, or other reasons. Edge devices make it possible to liberate this data, perform useful analytics, and deliver both local and remote visualization.

Edge capable devices

Edge-capable devices and software include a wide variety of different—yet related—smart sensors, gateways, PLCs/PACs, edge controllers, industrial PCs, HMIs, and software platforms.


Future-ready and fit-for-purpose

Industrial automation designs must first and foremost deliver safe and effective functionality, yet it is becoming increasingly important to consider the data connectivity and edge computing aspects. Some users may not be ready to fully embrace edge implementations, or perhaps they are deterred by how to best choose from a multitude of options—some of which are not truly industrial-grade. These users are looking for complete solutions designed to minimize risk and accelerate their efforts with features like:

  • Closely integrated hardware and software
  • Complete scalability and flexibility
  • Bundled hardware/software solutions
  • Convenient software modules for essential tasks
  • Consistent development environments
  • Built-in cybersecurity


CIP/SIP skid application

Clean-in-place (CIP) and sanitize-in-place (SIP) skids and processes use chemicals and water to safely clean, sanitize, and sterilize production equipment for food & beverage, life sciences, and other manufacturing applications. CIP/SIP systems consume significant chemical and utility resources, so careful automation can provide large energy and material savings, in addition to greatly improved performance.

Emerson addressed this common user and OEM challenge by developing CIP Analytics, which is a solution based on PACSystems™ edge controllers and industrial PCs, using PACEdge™ software. The coordinated portfolio of Emerson automation and edge hardware/software provided a robust foundation for this solution, which empowers operators and engineers to visualize and monitor performance, execute benchmarking, and report on utility consumption, resulting in considerable operational savings.

Clean-in-place analytics is a solution based on PACSystems™ edge controllers and industrial PCs, using PACEdge™ software.

Clean-in-place analytics is a solution based on PACSystems™ edge controllers and industrial PCs, using PACEdge™ software.

Edge opportunities

End users, OEMs, and systems integrators are extending traditional automation with newer edge technologies to create value from formerly stranded data.

There are so many options to consider it can be difficult to authoritatively select among the multitude of choices. The answer is choosing a proven and coordinated hardware and software platform that allows development effort to focus on the application rather than the integration.

Emerson offers a complete portfolio of automation platforms and technologies incorporating deterministic control, edge-enabled computing, visualization, analytics, site and cloud connectivity, and more, to help users add IIoT capabilities to all types of applications.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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