Taking industrial digital transformation to the next level while keeping critical data close

ABB, HPE and Rittal offer the Secure Edge Data Center which enables a Smart Buildings factory to secure vast amounts of data on premise while allowing reductions of investment costs by 30%, operating cost by up to 20% through energy savings and CO2 emissions of up to 20%.

The Northern Swiss town of Schaffhausen is a tourist hotspot because of its proximity to the Rhine Falls and for its high-end watchmaker IWC. It is also the place where ABB makes devices to run smart buildings like clockwork.

The plant produces several million miniature circuit breakers per year, as well as power distribution systems for low voltage sub-distribution cabinets, circuit monitoring systems and magnetic relays. While these products are distributed globally, mainly for industrial and critical power applications such as data centers, the factory also provides switches and sockets which are specifically designed for private households in Switzerland.

The factory uses the Secure Edge Data Center (SEDC), an all-in-one plug and play industrial data center solution that is specifically designed to run in industrial environments, to bring enterprise-grade IT capacity closer to its machine control and points of data collection.

The SEDC solution is the result of a collaboration between ABB, HPE and Rittal and combines the best of three technology leaders. It is a pre-assembled edge data center offering for industrial enterprises and is specifically designed to make edge computing available in harsh environmental conditions. Because it integrates the core elements of a real sized data center in one enclosure, it does not require a controlled environment with cool and clean air with a specific humidity.

The SEDC features the ABB SMISSLINE Touch Proof system and the ABB PowerValue uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to ensure continuous power supply. A high-quality rack, cooling and fire extinguishing systems by Rittal provide a secure environment for the IT equipment within its IP55 certified enclosure. The SEDC also offers monitoring systems that include fire detection systems, as well as, alarm functions to increase safety. HPE’s IT infrastructure and services as well as around-the-clock support, complete the offering and ensure a seamless operation.

“The SEDC is an enabler for the rapid deployment of “cloud-like” compute capabilities to the edge”, says André Schärer, ABB Vice President Digital Partnerships. “It therefore facilitates a variety of use cases, right where data is generated. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provides our customers with the flexibility to distribute their applications – from device to edge to cloud."

Digital Transformation

The IIoT enables enterprises to connect numerous devices to networks, which make it possible to continuously collect and analyze data and turn it into actionable insights to improve operations, performance, sustainability and safety. It is estimated that the number of connected devices will rise to 41.6 billion in 2025 which will give data generation a significant boost1. Traditionally, such large amounts of data have been processed centrally in data centers, or more recently in “the cloud”.

However, storing and processing critical data in remote data centers may not be feasible for every business or operation. The distance can create latency and disrupt time sensitive production processes, especially in remote locations where connectivity may be an issue. Others fear that storing the data on cloud servers can pose a security threat and that it may fall in the hands of hackers. Some companies have even issued policies that prevent external processing or storing of company data or government regulations prevent the data from leaving certain territories.

The exposed frame of the old infrastructure sits next to the SEDC, who’s enclosed casing protects the vital IT equipment holding important back up data for the factory.
The exposed frame of the old infrastructure sits next to the SEDC, who’s enclosed casing protects the vital IT equipment holding important back up data for the factory.

“The edge is where the action is,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, VP and Hewlett Packard Fellow, and Global Head of IoT and Edge Labs. “The secure and environmentally hardened SEDC is ideal for factory edges. Placing enterprise class compute and control systems near the sources of data and ‘things’ in the IIoT affords many benefits such as faster response time, higher reliability, and reduced bandwidth requirements.”

The SEDC is therefore most compatible for the Schaffhausen factory and its housing made a very fast deployment possible, while allowing significant reductions of investment costs (30%), operating cost (15-20% energy savings for cooling) and CO2 emissions (15-20%). To learn more about this use case, please refer to the case study2.

“By installing an SEDC, we were able to address all challenges related to hosting IT equipment in our factory. We didn’t have to spend on retrofitting an entire room, rather we were able to deploy this solution in a cost-effective way” says Volkmar Brielmann, ABB Local IS Business Engagement Manager.

The SEDC is a smart solution that adds tremendous value to enterprise customers, because it allows them to efficiently deploy ABB Ability™ offerings (e.g. ABB Ability™ System 800xA, ABB Ability™ Symphony Plus, etc.), as well as, any standard software offering (for example SAP HANA®, Microsoft Azure Stack, Manufacturing Execution Systems and others) to the edge.

[1] Press release by IDC

[2] Case study 

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