In brief: IIoT edge software allows industrial organizations to store and send data from remote assets to PI Server or OSIsoft Cloud Services for full edge-to-cloud connectivity.

The spring “conference season” has either been cancelled or gone virtual. The first virtual conference of the season for me was OSIsoft PI World. I’ve made the trip to San Francisco a couple of times to be there in person, but this year I sat in my office with headphones firmly affixed to my ears.

The “Edge” has been a hot topic for a few years now—mostly from the IT-oriented technology providers that I follow. OSIsoft’s PI is the ubiquitous “system of record” for a huge percentage of the industrial world. This historian database is often used in platforms for moving data from the plant to the enterprise. PI is the bridging step in most cases. The Edge, in our industrial case, often refers to a device serving as a data concentrator from physical devices in the plant or in the field and then as a gateway serving the data to the cloud or to the enterprise.

At the conference, OSIsoft announced general availability of Edge Data Store. With Edge Data Store, customers can remotely monitor critical assets to improve uptime, while minimizing the costs and safety risks associated with manual, in-person inspections.

Edge Data Store is Industrial IoT (IIoT) software that allows operators to collect, store, and access data from assets and sensors in remote environments. Remote edge data can now be easily collected and integrated with primary control network data to create a holistic view of industrial operations. OSIsoft’s customers and partners have deployed Edge Data Store in a variety of settings, including on hardened gateways to monitor personnel safety at sea, track performance of pumps in the field, and optimize the efficiency of large-scale battery solutions around the globe.

To improve the safety of personnel who must work in the dynamic, dangerous environment of the drill floor on offshore rigs, Edge Data Store pilot customer Rolloos turned its CCTV technology into a comprehensive detection system that could track personnel as they entered active zones. Through the Edge Data Store pilot, Rolloos ensured that all data was accessible by offshore operators for immediate decision support and could be streamed onshore for further retrospective analysis.

“We can actually track people from video and can combine that with the output from the equipment data to improve efficiency even more. Then, we can stream it back to shore using the Edge Data Store,” said Martijn Handels, director at Rolloos.

Easy, reliable access to edge data has enabled real-time monitoring of personnel and equipment to improve both employee safety and overall process performance.

“Our pervasive data collection strategy, with support for over 450 industrial protocols, has been utilized by thousands of customers, and we’re supplementing these capabilities with edge connectivity,” said Chris Felts, senior strategic product manager for OSIsoft. “Edge Data Store is a major step toward helping industrial customers capitalize on the promise of IoT and ubiquitous sensing. By supporting both edge to on-premises and edge to cloud data patterns, Edge Data Store provides an easy way for customers to improve operations with full end-to-end visibility.”

Because Edge Data Store shares the same data storage and API technologies as OSIsoft Cloud Services, custom applications developed for the cloud can be used at the edge and vice versa.

The Edge Data Challenge

Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 initiatives continue to transform critical operations with low-cost sensors and solutions. However, data from remote operations has remained isolated due to poor network connectivity, the difficulty of developing edge solutions that meet both the high standard of critical operations data management, and strict hardware requirements of rugged or remote devices. Valuable remote data is often stranded beyond the reach of automation systems, held up by unreliable network conditions. Edge Data Store overcomes these challenges; the software self-heals after hard reboots from power outages and runs on low-cost, rugged devices with Windows or Linux operating systems.

Edge Data Store provides no-code connectivity to common industrial protocols and can expose the data for use by field technicians or analytics applications. In addition to facing extended loss of connectivity, remote areas are often subject to limited connectivity, where data transfer costs are closely monitored.

For example, snow on a satellite dish could mean that a remote location is disconnected for days at a time, previously leading to data loss or requiring personnel to drive to the asset in harsh conditions. Edge Data Store delivers robust local storage and simple configuration options to optimize bandwidth and send edge data to PI Server or OSIsoft Cloud Services, allowing corporate users to augment existing data sets and drive further analysis.

“Edge technology simultaneously drives centralized knowledge and distributed decision making,” said OSIsoft President Michael Siemer. “For 40 years, OSIsoft has pushed the boundaries of real-time, high fidelity operations data. Edge technologies decentralize information access and empower essential employees to make local decisions for safer, smarter operations.”

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