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Automation: Custom Automation the New Craftsmanship?

This year for Christmas my wife gave me the wonderful gift of membership to our local gym, and in addition,  a discounted gift pack of 8 personal trainer sessions.  My first reaction was to be offended by the gesture until I gazed at the sincerity on her face and the “keg” below my chest. So, instead of wallowing in self pity. I proceeded to pull out and dust off my 1998 Brooks track shoes, my knee high athletic socks and my 2000 Los Angeles Laker’s Championship head band, and proceeded to walk out the door on my quest for a new and improved six pack.

How does this story relate to manufacturing? Well let me explain.

I did not make it out the door before my teenage daughter glanced at me, chuckled and stated, “Dad. Where are you going with that outfit? And where did you get those shoes!!!”, “You need some new “stompers” (translation for the tweet challenged generation…new shows. Oh and I needed the translation.) She directed me to the NikeID website to find some new “stompers”

Nike -- Custom Solution

Global manufacturing stalwarts like Nike and Harley Davidson are re-engineering their plants to address the growing trend of custom “productization.”   Where customers can personalize and customize their product with unique detail and style. Customers end up paying a little more for  this service, but in many instances it turns out to be more reasonable than exclusive branding.  Is Custom Automation the new craftsmanship of the 21st century?  If so, what is required to implement this new paradigm into a viable business and operational reality -- a sort of Industrial Intelligence? Read More »

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Innovation: The Cisco and Librestream Video Collaboration Solution

March 2, 2011 at 11:08 am PST

I’m really excited by this new Cisco and Librestream MMVC solution. Lots of information out on the web, and lots of questions so I thought I’d put a brief video together to give you an introduction and to see if we can get a discussion going and also to see if we can answer some of the questions for you. The video starts talking about what really matters. What are the pain-points that manufacturers and industry have today? How do they get hold of the right people to fix things if something goes wrong, and how can they say ‘I see what you mean now’ -- and really mean it?

All this matters because keeping things running matters. Being able to communicate effectively in real time using video, speech and pictures -- globally, if need be -- matters. Knowing what’s going on and having clearer visibility matters. Working out what to do next, whether it’s developing a new product or fixing an operational problem fast, matters a lot.

I was fortunate to catch up with Librestream’s Vice President of Marketing and Client Services, Marieke Wijtkamp, and let her answer some of your questions. You’ll see what Marieke has to say and find out more about the solution in a moment… Read More »

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Bringing IT and Control together

Although not a rule, IT and Control at many manufacturers have an arms-length, if not more distant, relationship.  They have different priorities, expertise and cultures.  But the reality is that the converged plant, based upon standard networking throughout the plant, requires them to work together to achieve the bucket of gold benefits awaiting their company.  Our partnership with Rockwell Automation in many ways is a result of this need at many of our customers.  They need us to work closer so that they can focus on a single technology and solution and rely on a “converged” support model as they bring their plants into the standard networking world interconnected to the rest of the enterprise.  To this end our companies have been working together for more than five years.

Gregory Wilcox, Rockwell Automation, on IT/Control cultural convergence

Listen to my colleague at Rockwell Automation, Gregory Wilcox -- Business Development Manager, describe the culture convergence that needs to occur -- critical to the overall convergence.  We have done a lot of the leg work to make this convergence happen.

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Why do I need a password in a factory?

So, I got locked out of my Cisco “everything” account recently. At first I thought it was just my home router acting up, but after a couple days I called IT for help, and they asked me to reset my router, and my modem, and then when that was done they informed me that maybe my password had expired.

Long way of getting to the story. I hate when my password expires. We have pretty stringent rules about passwords here at Cisco. I appreciate that. I just don’t want to change my password. You see I have (guessing) at least 20 sites that I use, all have different password requirements. Some have unique requirements for User Names too.

So I have figured out that from now on, the day that I change my company password I am changing all of my other account passwords too. At least within Cisco they synchronize all of the passwords. But I still have all my individual accounts, and I’m quite sure they sit there and watch, here comes that idiot, requesting a new password. Why can’t these people remember their password, they likely wonder while they smirk.

To some degree it is a matter of how often you go to the website, I suppose. Read More »

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Collaboration: with MACS from Cisco it’s as if you’re really there!

February 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm PST

We hear a lot about Collaboration and Innovation these days.  People try to define what each word means, and how they relate to each other. Probably the best source I’ve found so far is in a great blog by Carlos Domingez that addresses just that. Carlos is one of Cisco’s senior thought leaders, so check out his blog here: Collaboration: What Does it really mean? It’s a fascinating read, especially the references to  Evan Rosen and Mark Granovetter. It’s also a great segway to the Manufacturing Active Collaboration Space Solution that I talk about in the video below:

Peter Granger talks about Cisco’s Manufacturing Active Collaboration Solution and how it can help with innovation and product development. GE calls their version Virtual Collaboration Space.

As you can hear in my video, the truth of the matter is that Collaboration and Innovation go hand-in-hand simply because when people get together they feed off one another, adding to each others ideas and seeing opportunities from different angles. They solve each others issues and talk through problems using words,  images and video. When you click ‘read more’ you’ll hear more about GE’s use of MACS in a short video featuring senior GE and Cisco figures. I’ll also solve the riddle I set for you in an earlier blog about how to make a new square out of four matches! Read More »

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