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Focus on Operations for 2015

Welcome back from a restful holiday break, assuming you were able to take one. But, like many in manufacturing, you might not had too much time off.  According to Industry Week and MAPI, the High Tech industry in particular is booming and there is no slowdown to be seen.  For the IT teams supporting these types of manufacturing operations, that means a lot more time troubleshooting and making sure that the network is always up and running.  With the efficiencies that companies have put in place to see additional growth numbers (ERP, HRMS and other systems), the focus is moving more and more towards the work areas and away from the corporate side of the operations.

The recent blog from my colleague Chet Namboodri on “2015 Manufacturing Industry Predictions , highlights some key trends including the shift to the operational side of the house. In addition, new services offerings are coming from completely different markets to drive the space in new ways.  To do many of these offerings, the basics of the factory are going to start to be analyzed in ways that have not been possible before.  The base to build this analysis capability is the networking foundation where we will connect the information stores into a holistic view of the operations so you can understand what is going on from an end to end picture and drive new capabilities by tying in more and more information.

While this can be a daunting task to many, Cisco and our partners are currently doing this with our IoT and IoE initiatives. In my recent blog on The Internet of Things Accelerates Innovation and Value Creation for Manufacturers, I mentioned tying together systems that in the past were stand-alone operational systems with other operational systems as well as with the Enterprise systems that have been in place but were not part of the full picture.  This can include integrating maintenance systems with HR/Scheduling systems as well as sales and ordering systems.  An example I use (and am currently working with a customer on implementing) is to actually tie these systems together so that you know when machines are going to be down and when people are to be scheduled.  While this has been done in the past, we are now adding sales information to the mix to understand that if a system is down what orders may be delayed and if there is a key order for a key customer that should not be delayed. In the past, this extra step was rarely done and the result was a conflict between sales and operations and finger pointing all around.

This and other examples WILL result in improved operations and even more important increases in capacity management and employee productivity.  The costs are minimal, the time to get it right is the key. How are you focusing on operations and analytics in 2015?

2015 Manufacturing Industry Predictions

What’s new and trending for the industry? Well, predictions for the upcoming year as a motif is certainly not new but is definitely trending, considering the deluge of pundits concentrating their well-informed thoughts about which industry happenings will emerge through hyperbole and into reality. Amongst go-to industry resources I find myself perusing is LNS Research, who has chosen to break down their Top Three 2015 predictions by industry trend/topic: Industrial IoT; Industrial Energy Management; Environmental Health and Safety; and Asset Performance Management.

Another annual favorite that I’ve blogged about in the past—including commentary on Cisco relevance—is IDC Manufacturing Insights, who this year took on a refreshing, new format entitled IDC Futurescape: Worldwide Manufacturing 2015 Predictions. The team of IDC manufacturing practice analysts quantify and qualify their ten most critical imperatives to be addressed by global manufacturers in 2015 and beyond—based on the coalescence of technology and line of business interests—including a few that are very pertinent to Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE) initiatives:

  • In 2015, customer centricity requires higher standards for customer service excellence, efficient innovation, and responsive manufacturing, which motivates 75% of manufacturers to invest in customer-facing technologies.
  • By 2016, 70% of global discrete manufacturers will offer connected products, driving increased software content and the need for systems engineering and a product innovation platform.
  • By 2018, 40% of Top 100 discrete manufacturers and 20% of Top 100 process manufacturers will provide Product-as-a-Service platforms.
  • In 2015, 65% of companies with more than 10 plants will enable the factory floor to make better decisions through investments in operational intelligence.

Before the analyst predictions pushed their way onto my laptop screen, I was asked by Cisco’s press relations team to put forward my top 3 for the industry. So on All Saints Day, before heading out on weeks of travel to China, India, and several of the United States outside my home residence, I produced three ideas that didn’t make it to our PR megaphone. As part of this blog, I’ve decided to share these three predictions, with some relevant observations from my Nov-Dec travels and customer interactions …

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IoT in Action – Connectivity in Fire & Safety

The Internet of Things (IoT) is having a profound impact connecting buildings and industrial networks to IT environments. By linking your industrial sensors, robotics, trucks, and other equipment with your enterprise applications, through the Internet of Things (IoT), companies have better visibility into what’s happening in the environment. More importantly, these companies can more quickly and effectively respond to that information.

Connected Buildings and Incident Management

One area where IoT is changing the landscape is building management.   Traditionally, building management systems have been maintained on independent and proprietary networks.   This worked when the requirements were for stand-alone systems.   However, with the emergence of IoT, these systems are migrating to an IP/Ethernet based platform.   The benefits of this include: (1) improved ability to communicate between systems, (2) better integration with the building IT networks, and (3) ability to communicate outside the building.

One example is in fire and life safety.   Organizations are now looking at these solutions to be more than fire detection and alarm systems by providing additional capabilities and becoming incident management systems.

Edwards/UTC Moving into IoT

For example, when Edwards Fire Safety, a division of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, was looking for ‘Solutions for the Future’, they looked to Cisco. Working with Edwards, Cisco’s IoT business unit initiated a program under a Strategic Technology Integration agreement that combines Cisco’s ruggedized IE 2000 switch with the fire and life safety system.

To properly operate in these environments, networking devices must be highly ruggedized to protect the internal components. Specific and tight connectors are needed to avoid any possible water penetration and disconnects due to vibrations.

For Edwards, this provides a smart, next generation communication platform that provides three key benefits:

  1. Faster Deployments – The “Powered by Cisco” logo is one that is certainly respected and recognized within the networking ecosystem.   Edwards can leverage this logo to quickly address any concerns about the power of their solution components when working with building IT and networking teams.
  2. Next Generation Platform – Allows Edwards to utilize an IP/Ethernet based solution.   This offers multiple benefits including: common platform, open standards, scale and security, and the opportunity to build additional capabilities on the solution to support incident management.
  3. Solution Support – Enables Edwards to easily and quickly perform diagnostic and remediation of networks issues using a smart and managed switch.

Take a look at the solution at this year’s ASIS Conference:

 

Finding Solutions for the Future

Cisco makes it easy to capitalize on industrial connectivity and IT-to-operations convergence. We bring industry-leading network and management capabilities to your harshest environments, while providing end-to-end solutions to address every aspect of industrial networking, including plant routing and switching, field networks, embedded networks, and physical security. And all of these solutions integrate with Cisco’s traditional wired and wireless networking, security, collaboration, and data center solutions as part of a single, converged platform. For more information about Cisco switches, visit www.cisco.com/go/ie2000.

Making the ‘Plant of the Future’ a Reality Today

At Automation Fair last month, I participated in several sessions and industry forums as part of Cisco’s participation in this event, which is Rockwell Automation’s largest user conference. What struck me were some of the urgency for many manufacturers in investing in key technologies in their plant environment. It was quite serendipitous, since we announced enhancements to our Connected Factory offering in terms of wireless features. Many of the customers I spoke to had specific wireless use cases in mind for their particular factory floor.

Specifically, we spoke to several well-known Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Aerospace companies, and the drive to improve efficiencies through machine monitoring and new analytics to reduce costs or downtime is spurring new investments in IoT initiatives and projects.   According to my colleague Randall Kenworthy, Practice Director for CPG and Life Sciences, CPG companies are pursuing 3 strategies: “Connect,” “Secure,” and “Virtualize.” Most of the assets being used to make products are still dark, securing food safety and intellectual property in an escalating threat environment, and virtualizing plant floors to increase uptime and lower costs. Randall presented to a packed room of nearly 400 attendees in the CPG forum at Automation Fair.

What is interesting today is that a full ‘Plant of the Future’ concept is no longer a ‘pie-in-the sky’ vision but rather a real-life, tested solution that can be deployable today. Take a look at this overview video describing the prime use cases and components of a Connected Factory:

The infographic below encapsulates many of the business outcomes manufacturers are seeking to achieve and how the Connected Factory can make your ‘Plant of the Future’ a reality today: productivity, output increase, innovation acceleration, and energy efficiency. What are your plans to make the Plant of the Future a reality for your factory? Tell us more in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Get Ahead of the Curve in 2015: Invest in IoT

As the holiday season gets into full swing, executives like you are polishing off strategic and operational plans for the New Year. For many manufacturing companies, 2014 was a good year, for some outstanding, and most manufacturers are optimistic for more of the same in 2015. According to MAPI’s US Industrial Outlook, “manufacturing will continue to grow faster than the overall economy,” with 2015 growing at a higher rate than 2014.

Because manufacturers are looking to get ahead of this growth curve and set the stage for competitive differentiation and advantage in 2015, you are utilizing budgets remaining from 2014 to make smart investments now in new technologies, before the year comes to a close. With strategic investments in operations or R&D/engineering, companies position themselves to be more agile, productive and competitive while the economy slowly but surely continues to strengthen. In an Industry Week report, “Manufacturers are optimistic about their businesses as well as the economy as a whole, and are investing accordingly … Following a profitable growth strategy, they are controlling costs while introducing new products, increasing sales from existing customers, and leveraging data to make smarter business decisions.”

In recent conversations with a few of my Cisco colleagues who happen to be 20+yr Manufacturing / OT (Operations Technology) veterans, these industry gurus describe how they counsel manufacturing clients during the transitional holiday season. Steve Gansen points out that for many companies, budgets need to be expended this calendar year-end (‘use it or lose it’), which presents a great opportunity to change the prioritization for projects. “Many of my customers see this as an opportunity to reprioritize projects and drive budget to improve R&D or product engineering and offerings.” (His comments reminded me of the Sub-Zero’s innovative investments in their product development, NPI and processes.)

Jim Fledderjohn and Dwayne Edwards add that there are other considerations for a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) proof-of-concept (PoC) projects for production environments and engineering programs that present incremental, re-directional opportunities at year-end. From video surveillance to energy management, to factory wireless and plant virtualization, there are many compelling use cases that can be easily ‘piloted’ to deliver immediate business outcomes and measurable ROI. In fact, an option recently announced at Automation Fair is Cisco Services Factory Starter Kit, a fast-track, turnkey PoC package of wireless capabilities for your plant environments.

Jim further describes, “Piloting an IoT project on a small scale lets manufacturers test out a concept in their environment and puts them in a better position to win budget and additional investment in 2015.” Particularly in the US—where according to the latest ISM Report On Business for November, the manufacturing sector expanded for the 18th consecutive month—momentum in the industry just keeps building. And considering manufacturing technologies that include embedded intelligence and IoT, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), orders for 2014 are showing growth of >5%.

Are YOU planning end-of-the-year investments in IoT? Let us know what you think in the comment block below. Thanks for reading.

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