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IoE/IoT Globetrotting Part 2: Off to CiscoLive!

Having recently returned from weeks of event keynotes, customer roundtables, briefings and engagements (plus a few culinary adventures) in Greater China, I’ll start there with a few insights and observations. Despite one of the sharpest slow-downs in the Chinese manufacturing sector in recent history that have continued to shrink for the third consecutive month, I sensed an optimism and determination to persevere that haven’t waned, nor has China’s march to global leadership of manufacturing GDP. A recent report from Rhodium Group indicates the number of American workers employed directly by Chinese companies increased >five-fold over the last five years to >80,000 in 2014.

Automation and quality are key tenets driving China’s current growth strategies in manufacturing and the industrial sector. For Cisco this is creating continued demand for our Connected Factory portfolio of architecturally integrated solutions Chet Blog 6.4as a leap-frog approach to the legacy automation predominating U.S. and European factories. I certainly found to be the case at two conferences I keynoted—the 5th Annual Manufacturing Supply Chain Summit in Shanghai and the Industry 4.0 / Manufacturing Cloud Forum in Shenzhen—that many massive manufacturers are urgently implementing Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud / Data Analytics projects as part of their competitive business strategies and differentiation. This key take-away and perspective that China is leading other top manufacturing nations on adoption of industrial IoT is validated by a recent analysis compiled by Infosys Ltd.

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Event Recap: Cisco at American Manufacturing and North American Manufacturing Excellence Summits

We recently attended the American Manufacturing Summit (AMS) and North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit (NAMES) held in Chicago, IL where Cisco was a main sponsor at both events. AMS provided a great opportunity for industry executives to have in-depth discussions on IoT and its impact on manufacturing while NAMES brought together manufacturing executives looking to implement a better, more efficient way of manufacturing.

Major themes from the American Manufacturing Summit:

Manufacturers stand to reap the greatest benefit from the IoT transition. This is based on the opportunities for manufacturing through the entire value chain – from R&D, to Connected Products, to Connected Plants, to Omni-Channel Sales and Services. Lots of attendees stressed that they want to do a better job of optimizing technology. At the summit, we looked at case studies across the value chain and different industries and discussed best practices, lessons learned and risks.

Specifically, the summit highlighted four primary use cases:

  • Connected Products – How are manufactures connecting their products and what is the value proposition?
  • Smart Factories – IoT is enabling manufacturers to lighten their manufacturing floor increasing OEE
  • End-to-End Supply Chain Synchronization – How manufacturers are digitizing information to increase visibility
  • Omnichannel – Using connected products across a variety of platforms to improve sales and customer service in the field.

During the AMS summit, Randal Kenworthy, Practice Director – Manufacturing, Americas Business Transformation, along with the support of colleagues, Dan Boutell, Senior Advisor – Manufacturing and Nandu Nandakumar, Practice Advisor – Manufacturing, Americas Business Transformation, had the opportunity to discuss the IoT impact in manufacturing – especially around acquiring data from sensors and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) for use cases like increased connectivity and predictive maintenance. We also showcased Cisco’s Circuit Emulation over IP Network Modules (CEM) and Unified Wireless Location-Based Services solutions.

Attendees responded positively to the discussion. Interestingly, a lot of responses we received were that they are utilizing some aspects of IoT connected technologies now, but most of the data they are currently gathering is lost and not used. They don’t know what they don’t know, so data analytics will be a first step in the right direction.

Major themes discussed at the North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit:

As the manufacturing landscape continues to evolve, companies and industry leaders are constantly facing pressures to keep up with growing competition. Agility has become crucial as manufacturers manage complex issues like controlling escalating costs and managing a dynamic workforce; all while dealing with pressures to implement a better, more efficient way of manufacturing. Below are a few of the major topics addressed during the summit:

  • Continuous Improvement, Lean / Six-Sigma.
  • Employee involvement and Leadership.
  • Use of technology to drive organizational change.

Once again, our subject matter experts took part in a discussion centered on building smarter manufacturing with IoT. We asked the question, where is manufacturing headed and explained how IoT will fundamentally change how products are invented, manufactured, shipped and sold. With IoT, IP networks and analytics, manufacturers can become more efficient, improve worker safety and offer new business models. Manufacturers that master this new dynamic will have a variety of new opportunities for revenue growth and cost savings.

Attendees/customers shared some key concerns and questions around IoT integration in manufacturing, inquiring about how Cisco can help:

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Certifying for the Hyperconnected Plant Floor

The Internet of Everything (IoE)—bringing together previously unconnected people, processes, data and things—opens a world of possibilities in terms of creating new capabilities, richer experiences and unparalleled economic opportunity for organizations, individuals, and nations. Cisco predicts that 50+ billion devices will be connected by 2020. The ramifications are enormous and varied, including how manufacturing plants operate.

The exchange between information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) is increasing as the industrial plant floor and corporate enterprise become more connected. The convergence of IT and OT is expanding IP Networking and Ethernet connectivity on the industrial plant floor. Understandably, World Bank Studies estimate that 220,000 new engineers are required every year from 2014 to 2022 to connect the unconnected. In addition, there are 300,000 Control Engineers that need to be re-skilled in the industry.

As part of Cisco’s ongoing commitment to equip IT and networking professionals with the knowledge and skills essential to fulfill evolving industry job roles, we have launched the new CCNA Industrial certification. It’s an expansion, due to high demand, of the IT/OT track we began last year with the release of our Industrial Networking Specialist Certification.

Cisco collaborated closely with Rockwell Automation, a company with significant expertise in the industrial automation space, to develop a program to help control-system and traditional network engineers better understand the technologies needed to manage a hyperconnected industrial enterprise. This complements and extends our existing collaboration on products, services, validated architectures, and educational resources to jointly address IT and OT network convergence.

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Cisco Manufacturing Partner Librestream Wins Award at PS 2015

Cisco’s ecosystem of partners consists of leading technology providers that complement our leading networking solutions. One such partner, Librestream Technologies, which offers mobile video collaboration hardware and software, recently won one of the coveted Business Solution Outcomes Awards (in the Manufacturing and Energy segment) at Partner Summit held last month in Montreal.

The Business Outcomes Contest is designed to recognize, promote and award the innovative work being done by Cisco solution partners to transform businesses and industries. There were over 70 submissions and only a handful won, judged in terms of the innovation process, the problem solved and the technology used.

Specifically, Librestream won (see press release) for their joint project at premium appliance manufacturer Sub-Zero. This was a compelling product development and remote collaboration story – more details here in Chet Namboodri’s blog , “Sub-Zero Innovates with the Internet of Everything” as well as the case study page. The Librestream solution, working on top of the Cisco network, enabled Sub-Zero to meet an aggressive product rollout of over 60 new models across its refrigeration and cooking (under the WOLF brand name) lines to meet its strategic goals.   Take a look at the video below where Librestream Chief Operating Officer Jereme Pitts describes the project:

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How to Capture the Value of Industrial IoT: Smart Connected Operations

Despite the seeming media saturation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the importance of industrial adoption, it was eye-opening to hear that 47% of manufacturers are still unclear on the value of IoT and how to proceed with adoption.   Cisco recently partnered with LNS Research on a research study to further understand the dynamics behind this.

Take a look at this Slide share below to see a summary of the study’s findings:

LNS Research: Capturing the Business Value of the Industrial IoT from Cisco Business Insights

To get more details directly from the analysts who authored this study including Matt Littlefield, listen to this on-demand webcast, “Smart Connected Operations: Capturing the Value of the Industrial IoT”,  This webcast will also cover emerging best practices on how to transform the value chain and manufacturing system architectures toward Smart Connected operations, as well as how to build a business case for your specific production environment.

In addition, listeners to the webcast will receive an e-Book covering the following:

  • The top objectives and challenges manufacturers are facing today, and how Smart Connected Operations are being employed to accelerate success
  • A guide to building a business case for investment in Industrial IoT technology

The challenge for most manufacturers today is not falling behind and losing their competitive edge in their particular markets. In addition, further education is clearly a need so this study fills an obvious need. Let me know any thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading.