Achieving the goal of high availability

21 February 2022

Find out how an edge computing solution has enabled a powder processing equipment producer enhance visibility of operations and improve business continuity.

Based in Switzerland, a powder processing solution provider has a long history of manufacturing machines used to blend, mix and convey fine powders. 

Traditionally the organisation had relied on a cold backup solution – running on a regular workstation – to keep operations going in the event of a disruption. It knew that this was not enough to fulfil its ongoing continuing goals.

The backup had to be carried out manually and synchronisations were not always error-proof. More importantly, the snapshots may not always work for a full or fast recovery should things in the production system go wrong.

The company knew that high availability was a must for the mission-critical equipment it used to manufacture the powder processing machines. Unplanned downtime posed a risk of lost revenue. It also requires a disproportionate amount of resources to get things up and running again.

Easy to deploy solution
At first the company sought to set up a warm backup system. However, this did not solve its business continuity challenges and it still required a way to quickly recover data in the event of an unplanned disruption. 

The company liased with its technology partner, Winsys Technology, who proposed a solution in the form of a high-availability system built on the Stratus ztC Edge server. By placing it at the edge of the network controlling and monitoring the manufacturing process – the company was able to gain an improved understanding of the real time situation. 

With this, the staff could remotely monitor the machines without actually stepping onto the factory floor and it was able to be more proactive in managing any emergent issue with a manufacturing machine. 

Commenting on the solution, Eugene Yeo, director of business development at Winsys Technology, said: “As a system integrator, we provided a complete availability solution to our client that came with less effort and complexity in the infrastructure, so that we could focus on designing and programming the applications. The system gave our customer added peace of mind so that it could focus on the performance of the manufacturing machines and deliver better customer experiences.”

Key to the decision was the rugged design that makes the edge server well-suited for industrial use. The high available it offers is critical, because all data written to disk is mirrored automatically. 

The Intel-based ztC Edge platform also delivered the required performance for this application – a single unit enabled the company to monitor and control machines at its premises, running multiple workloads concurrently. This is because the ztC Edge server comes with built-in virtualisation to allow customers to consolidate multiple applications onto a single platform. This means reducing costs and boosting agility. Further, rugged hot-swappable nodes and automated data protection and local site recovery allows the ede server to help reduce the complexity of the company’s IT infrastructure.

The virtual machine (VM) can be duplicated remotely onto another ztC Edge machine, which saves it a lot of time in terms of the basic installation. For each machine installed, this could save a day of manpower.

This was a key benefit in this application, as the company did not have a full-time IT team to take care of the edge computing unit. In addition, with the edge server’s ease of use, the company could focus less on the infrastructure and more on its applications. 

The edge server has helped to reduce unplanned downtime – improving the reliability and productivity of the production line. The ease of use of the ztC Edge server also means that there is no need to hire a dedicated IT team to be on-station all the time. 

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