IBM: edge computing drives responsive COVID-19 operations
With organisations around the world striving to navigate through the challenges posed by COVID-19 many are turning to digital transformation and technology in order to adapt to the new normal.
“One enabling technology that many are taking into consideration is edge computing. Edge derives its name from the ability to take advantage of processing power, increased bandwidth and AI at the “edge” of the network, where data is captured and actions are taken, rather than transmitting large volumes of data to a cloud or on-premises data center for processing,” commented Skip Snyder, Senior Partner, Global Intelligent Connected Operations Leader, IBM GBS.
In a recent study conducted by IBM, the company looked at 1,500 executives globally and discovered that a growing number of leaders see value in edge computing. Within the report, 91% of respondents expect their organisation to implement edge computing within five years.
Among the executives surveyed, numerous benefits relating to edge computing were detailed. One of the most crucial benefits highlighted included operational responsiveness.
“Real-time data processing at the edge allows businesses to get more immediate insights from connected devices and systems. The ability to analyze data at its source allows businesses to make decisions and take action based on the most current data at any point in time. And in the midst of COVID-19, where business conditions are constantly shifting, operational responsiveness is essential,” added Snyder.
According to the research conducted by IBM, 84% of executives are expecting edge applications to have a positive impact on operational responsiveness in the next five years, and will lead to significant business benefits.
In addition a large majority of respondents believe edge computing will help to reduce operating costs and automate workflows in the next five years, as well as close to half expecting edge capabilities to increase productivity and accelerate decision making.
“Imagine in industrial settings, such as a factory or plant, where edge computing combined with 5G could, for example, help manufacturers more quickly and efficiently enable automated machines and industrial robots to analyze data right on a facility’s floor. Looking ahead, edge, 5G and AI will enable businesses to take advantage of video and acoustic analytics that can detect and address potential problems on the spot,” commented Snyder, who further explains that edge computing can be applied to multiple industries not just manufacturing.
“The benefits of edge apply across many other industries as well. For example, in agriculture, sustainable agriculture companies could equip plants with IoT-enabled sensors and use edge computing to monitor the growth needs and ideal harvest time for individual plants. In retail, a retailer could use AI-infused edge applications to mitigate profit-sensitive issues like spillage, shrinkage and spoilage or to capture the full value of price adjustments based on traffic patterns, weather or other real-time variables. An automotive company could improve driver experiences through alerts and car-to-car communications, and across industries, the combination of edge computing and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices has the potential to enable smarter supply chains, better equipping them to handle disruption of all kinds.”
Looking to the future, Snyder contemplates that as we move into the new normal, more innovative uses of edge computing will emerge.
“Organisations will need to make the most of every advantage technology can give them as they adjust to operating in the uncharted territory the COVID-19 pandemic has created. The combination of edge computing, 5G and AI will create the opportunities they need to be responsive to the market and thrive amidst disruption.”
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.