Fog and edge computing are natural outgrowths of the evolving Internet of Things (IoT). But to take advantage of each technology, you must first understand what they can do.
- Edge computing refers to the “edge” of the internet (e.g., routers, home computers, cell phones, or smart telematics devices at the physical end of an internet trip). Receiving data and information this way requires bandwidth, which is often inadequate.
- Fog computing is done through intermediate nodes of computing power — between true internet-hosting behemoths like AWS/Azure and Rackspace — and the actual internet consumers at the “edge.”
Experts believe 2016 will mark the rise of fog computing because it works by way of apps within the devices rather than up in the cloud. So, this type of processing solves the struggle for bandwidth by computing down near the data source in what has been named “the fog.”
Why fog and edge computing matter
Any business that sends data to mobile devices can struggle with slow bandwidth. But, with the right telematic diagnostics platform, things that would normally slow business down are seamlessly communicated. For example:
- If an accident occurs with a forklift, the manager can automatically be notified.
- Help is dispatched to handle impacts or any mishap, directing personnel to the exact location within minutes.
- Through its on-board internet connection, a truck’s telematics system can detect a slight mechanical deviation and signal that maintenance is needed. The job gets scheduled, and parts are automatically ordered.
When properly applied together, edge and fog computing create a mini-revolution in the effective use of telematics. There are 4 main areas of impact and improvement:
- Data pinpoints specific conditions that may cause accidents or decrease productivity.
- Increased monitoring and collection of data facilitates improved operator behavior and optimum traffic routing to avoid risk.
2. Sophisticated diagnostics
- With cellphone-level computing power monitoring fleet vehicles, the system is capable of sensing when a safety threshold (e.g., number of impacts, failure of an operator to perform proper tasks or sign-ons) has been exceeded and signal for assistance.
- Bandwidth is not an issue — diagnostics and analysis is instantly available.
3. Predictive analytics
- Edge-computing power can tell you things like what areas in your warehouse are most prone to accidents and pinpoint this to an exact aisle/intersection.
- Analytics can determine which operator or lift truck will deliver optimum productivity and advise managers how to leverage this data when job scheduling.
4. Add-on apps and features
- Smart telematics devices can subscribe to new and add-on apps, built for them by the original provider or through third-party developers.
- Apps allow devices to be connected to LMS (e.g., Labor Management, Warehouse Management, Time Keeping, Safety, and Maintenance) and other existing applications and many other uses.
An advanced telematics platform should leverage both fog and edge computing, enabling managers to respond with increased speed and efficiency — and without bandwidth frustrations.