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Now’s the Time to Deploy Wireless in the Factory

tony shakib connected factory banner pic

Since manufacturers around the globe constantly have to adapt to ever shifting market conditions, any technology that lends a competitive advantage can be a game changer. Implementing wireless on the factory floor can be just that. And our announcement with Rockwell Automation this week at Automation Fair, will make this a no-brainer. The announcement covered enhancements to our joint architecture with Rockwell Automation called the Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE). The Cisco branded version, called Connected Factory, is a portfolio of validated, proven architectures, capabilities and market-leading technologies and services for industrial markets. Factory Wireless is the latest solution offering in this portfolio and delivers unified wireless for industrial applications. Read More »

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Compelling Use Cases for Wireless in the Factory

tony shakib connected factory banner pic

At  Automation Fair this week, we are announcing major enhancements to our Cisco Connected Factory solution with new wireless and mobility capabilities.  This solution, called Factory Wireless, builds on the joint Cisco/Rockwell Automation architecture, known as Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE), as well as Cisco’s networking expertise with wireless and wired technologies and creates new flexible communication opportunities between things, machines, databases, and people throughout the plant.

Interestingly, many manufacturers have been reticent to adopt wireless broadly in their production floor or have been reticent to understand the many exciting use cases that are possible with wireless.  Despite this, the growth will still be steady, as analyst firm IHS predicts, “wireless network connections in industrial automation components in global factories will rise from 2.4 million in 2014 to 3.4 million by 2017.”

Savvy industrial companies who implement a new validated factory wireless infrastructure find that it is the key foundation for many use cases such as asset tracking to mobile visibility of automation controls and HMIs to wirelessly connecting plant floor equipment. In fact, we are seeing the demand for wireless in factories explode due to the potential to cut cabling costs by 95% and speed decision making by 80%.  One customer saw a 7% output boost as well by applying wireless to the production process.

Here are some of the most compelling use cases that automotive, process, discrete, consumer packaged goods and other types of manufacturers where wireless can truly be a game-changer:

  • RFID asset tags for wireless tracking of critical production tools resulting in significant productivity gains.
  • Quality control and assembly line monitoring reducing warranty returns and improving labor utilization such as the gains in the Reynosa, Mexico factory of Stanley Black and Decker.
  • Remote monitoring and real-time visibility of production line equipment for faster response time and better decision-making
  • Mobile video HD cameras for trouble-shooting and collaboration which means significant downtime reduction and faster new product introductions.  Check out the Sub-Zero/Wolf example.
  • Assembly line changeovers or reconfigurations (typical in automotive for example)—with wireless, the plant can be more flexible and adapt faster to new product lines or model changes.

Our design guides  bring together  wireless best practice designs, and tested and validated architectures integrating both IT and OT perspectives.   In addition, Cisco provides support for both unified or autonomous mode.The biggest problem I have seen is when customers fall into the trap of deploying multiple ad hoc wireless networks that ends up causing interference that reduces the effectiveness of those networks.  We can help you deploy a unified plant-wide wireless environment across IT and OT use cases where you can manage and secure end to end – increasing reliability and lowering cost.  Watch for future blogs on tips and considerations as you plan your wireless deployment.

What do you see as your killer use case for industrial wireless in your factory?  Let us know and visit here for more information.  Thanks for reading.

Cisco Shares Workforce Diversity Data

In Cisco’s 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report released today, you will find a more complete perspective on the gender, ethnicity, and seniority make up of our company – in the United States and globally. While we have shared information about the diversity of our workforce since 2005, the report offers greater insight into our people and their backgrounds, experiences, cultures, affiliations and points-of-view.

At Cisco we are focused on ensuring we have a culture that fosters inclusion and enables our diverse mix of talent to thrive. I became Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) in June of this year and I want to make this a personal and professional priority for everyone at Cisco. I began my CHRO tenure with the August appointment of Shari Slate as Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer. You will hear more from Shari as she and her team build on our existing foundation.

Our numbers are mostly consistent with our past disclosures and we recognize there are areas where we need to increase our focus and improve. Simply put – our business and people strategies require more. Enhanced reporting helps shine the light on performance against our goals – highlighting gaps, blind spots and opportunities – and intensifying accountability. We welcome that light.

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Cisco Releases Tenth Annual CSR Report

I am pleased to announce that Cisco has released its tenth annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report. The 2014 Cisco CSR Report outlines our strategy to use our expertise, technology, and partnerships for social, environmental, and business impact.

Each day, people around the world face many challenges: access to quality education, unemployment, poverty, and climate change, to name a few. We’ve learned that when we bring people together, they find innovative solutions to address these problems. And when you add technology to the mix, we can multiply our impact and uncover even greater opportunities.

For example, in France, a team of Cisco Networking Academy students used the connections between people, process, data, and things to create a networked walking stick for the blind. Watch this video to learn more:

Our CSR Report contains many more examples like this, organized according to five pillars:

  1. Governance and Ethics: Promoting responsible business practices at every level—with employees, suppliers, distributors, and partners
  2. Supply Chain: Working closely with our 600 global suppliers to maintain our high standards for ethics, labor rights, health, safety, and the environment
  3. Our People: Attracting, retaining, and developing talented people through an inspiring workplace, engaged management, and flexibility
  4. Society: Combining technology and human creativity to solve social issues and help communities thrive.
  5. Environment: Creating new business value for our customers using sustainable Cisco technologies, products, and solutions

Here are just a few highlights from our 2014 CSR Report:

  • We updated our Human Rights Roadmap to align with the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and we launched an online human rights training program for our employees.
  • 58% of our key suppliers set goals to cut their greenhouse gas emissions -- up from 45% in 2013.
  • We ranked number 55 on the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.
  • We made $275 million in cash and in-kind contributions to community organizations worldwide; and our employees volunteered 136,000 hours to support organizations in their own communities.
  • Employee-led “Pack It Green” projects saved approximately 888 metric tonne of packaging material and are expected to save over $6 million annually through material and freight cost reductions.
  • 97% of Networking Academy students who participate in a selective internship program with local IT companies in Italy get jobs; the partnership is creating a pipeline of tech talent while combatting a youth unemployment rate over 40%.

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Building a true HetNet

Andrew MackayBy Andrew Mackay,  Head of Mobile Solutions, APAC

I have discussed in the past the increasing importance of Smallcells in a Service Providers access strategy (Bringing LTE Indoors and Cost Optimised Indoor Coverage), but to truly leverage Smallcells once deployed in an optimal way is not a trivial task. Normally the Smallcell supplier is different to the Macro network and often a different mix of technologies (e.g in the case of Wi-Fi) and frequency bands are involved. The term Heterogeneous, meaning “diverse in character or content” (oxforddictionaries.com), is indeed fitting. So what is the right approach to building an optimal Heterogeneous Network or HetNet?

The guiding principle must be the consideration of end user Quality of Experience (QoE). Read More »

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