IBM MAS opens up a world of opportunity for edge computing

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Software intelligence is shifting more to the edges of a network: machines, devices, vehicles and cameras. As these IoT devices get smarter, they can make decisions autonomously. This opens up a world of opportunity for IBM Maximo Application Suite (MAS).

IBM MAS is a software suite with various Enterprise Asset Management tools, such as visual inspection, predictive maintenance and monitoring. This software runs on Red Hat OpenShift and integrates with virtually every technology and cloud provider. As a result, organizations such as manufacturers, logistics service providers, infrastructure managers and energy suppliers can use IBM MAS to collect and analyze all data from every possible asset to optimize their asset management.

What is edge computing?
“Edge computing is basically a distributed form of a data center: a small piece of application landscape on an edge device such as a cash register, drone or production robot,” explains Marc Loos. As an Evangelist Hybrid Cloud, Enterprise Container and IBM Cloud Advocate, he sees the number of edge devices increase daily. “The distance between the edge and data centers is also increasing, especially with the introduction of 5G. The latency of this network standard is better than that of WIFI, which means edge devices can still transmit information over a greater distance quickly to the connected parent systems.”

The device initiates an action
Thanks to the Red Hat OpenShift interlayer, IBM MAS software can be easily installed and run on edge devices. In fact, Red Hat OpenShift decouples software from the physical infrastructure. This offers several new possibilities for asset management. Loos: “Currently IoT devices often collect data, but don’t do anything with it. This data must first be fed back to the underlying systems in order to be processed. With IBM MAS close to the IoT device, this is not necessary. The device itself can filter insights from collected sensor data and immediately initiate a follow-up action. Think of a maintenance task, inspection order, production stop or order for a part.”

Connected worker
IBM MAS on the edge supports operators in their daily work: the edge system identifies and advises. This helps these ‘connected workers’ to make quick and informed decisions. For example, predictive maintenance functionality can help a maintenance worker or mechanic to prevent machines from breaking down and extend their lifespan. Loos gives a tunnel drill as an example: “Sensors on the drill detect which rock is being drilled and the drilling temperature. IBM MAS automatically adjusts the power and speed accordingly, without first having to connect to software in a data center. This means you can extend the life of such valuable assets by up to 25%.”

Hazardous locations

The benefits of edge devices with IBM MAS are greatest in places where people cannot or do not want to go. “Think of risky places such as oil rigs, on top of bridge piers or in chemical plants. Yet even in these places, assets such as pipes, tension cables and machines need to be inspected and maintained.” For example, the Danish company Sund & Baelt uses drones with IBM MAS to inspect the bridge between Denmark and Sweden. Another example is the robot dog Spot. This edge device with IBM MAS monitors factories during the night, which means engineers are well rested the next day and have more time for tasks which require human expertise and intelligence.

Edge devices with IBM MAS also provide a solution at locations without a network. Think of a weather station on top of a mountain, mines, tunnels and on the open sea. At these locations devices cannot send data to data centers for analysis and decision-making. As another example, IBM has equipped the autonomous ship the Mayflower with IBM MAS on OpenShift. This vessel will cross the Atlantic, where there is usually no network. Loos: “The Mayflower is the largest edge device I’ve ever worked on. The fifteen-meter long ship continuously collects all kinds of data. AI, such as in IBM MAS, processes that data in real-time to check the condition of the ship and to navigate: can I pass an approaching container ship with the current speed and battery power and is this in accordance with the shipping regulations? These are decisions the edge device can and must make autonomously.”

Would you like to know more about IBM MAS on edge devices such as the Mayflower?

Marc Loos

IBM Cloud Advocate

Ronald Teijken

Business Partner Manager Netherlands @ IBM for Asset management, Internet of Things, Supply Chain and AI.

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