Digital technologies have been transforming our world for the past few decades. For instance, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing have induced an evolution in the way we as society live our everyday lives as well as how many enterprises conduct business. This evolution has started to enter the industrial realm, most notably the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 and how these forces have driven other innovative ideas such as smart factories.

Smart factories can achieve significant advancements with IIoT and cloud technologies. For example, predictive analytics using data from the IIoT and processed in the cloud enable optimizations of various processes for smart factories. However, many industrial organizations, including those in the steel industry, have systems with more stringent requirements, such as real-time computational and communication constraints, that cannot be offered by the cloud.

To address these limitations, fog computing has emerged. It is a new paradigm of computing that will provide significant benefits to industry.

In this blog post, I will discuss these interconnected ideas and the relationships between the IIoT, cloud computing and fog computing, review some of the benefits and problems being solved, describe how the steel industry will be able to take advantage of this new paradigm in the near future and discuss the importance of cybersecurity and how it must be viewed as a fundamental component of this entire ecosystem of technology.

Understanding the Key Concepts

Let’s begin by asking: what is a smart factory?

A smart factory is a highly digitized and networked production environment containing numerous devices (things) with computing and communication capabilities. Some of these devices only communicate locally with other devices or legacy backend IT systems, while others like cyber-physical systems can even communicate with other systems via the global Internet. Smart factories enable (Read more...)