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Attending The Automation Conference Should be an Automatic Decision

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Last week, I got a great response to a blog on ‘Making Smarter Manufacturing and IoT a Reality Today’, where I illustrated some use-case business scenarios and strategies to leverage the IoT industry trends now. One way savvy manufacturers, industrial companies and supply chain and operations teams stay current with evolving trends like IoT is to send their key players to industry educational and networking opportunities. One such opportunity to learn how to better leverage IoT for improved real-time decision support, amongst many other benefits, is coming up. The Automation Conference is a professional, educational event hosted by the editors of Automation World and Packaging World and is happening at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott from May 20th to 21st.

Cisco is proud to be one of the sponsors at this event, which is focused on delivering practical application advice and visionary insights for automation and control engineers, operations and engineering management, manufacturing systems/IT and networking professionals, as well as industrial systems engineers, machinery designers and software development professionals involved with discrete and process industries and production operations.  Many of these industry leaders are wrestling with not just how to leverage IoT, but also key manufacturing issues and opportunities around industrial cybersecurity in production operations, reducing costs, improving efficiences, building new business capabilities and revenue streams and addressing skills gaps.

I hope to see you in Chicago on May 21st.

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Technology- The Paintbrush Enabling the New Manufacturing Renaissance

Welcome to the New Manufacturing Renaissance driven by a collage of sensors, robots, servers, clouds, tablets, machines, people and …things. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is serving as the canvas that connects and integrates all those “things.”  Over the last few years we have been inundated by industry pundits and scholars predicting the efficiency gains, value opportunities and innovations that can be obtained from the IoE revolution.  In fact, Cisco estimates the manufacturing IoE value opportunity is $4.2 trillion over the next 8 years.

Forward thinking CTO’s  understand that technology plays a significant roll in enabling this renaissance.  In a recent Industry Week article, our CTO, Padmasree Warrior, made the following observation:

“At this point, we believe that every company, big and small, is essentially becoming a technology company,” Warrior says. “Technology has become implicit and embedded in every business process today — the supply chain, manufacturing floor, automation and IT: They are all driven by technology and data analytics, not just operational expertise.

This renaissance is accelerating now thanks to the convergence of a number of technology trends: the low cost and accessibility of Big Data associated with cloud computing; the plummeting cost of electronic sensors, microprocessors and other components that can be used to make machines more adept; and advances in software and communications technology that make it possible to manage manufacturing with a whole new level of precision and enable new forms of collaboration.

Convergence has to not only occur  between  Information (IT) and Operational (OT) Technologies , but also within the C-suite.  The CTO’s primary responsibilities are evolving to become more tightly integrated and aligned with the enterprise’s business and operational goals. The result is optimized business processes, enhanced information for better decisions, reduced costs, lower risks and shortened project timelines.

Sujeet Chand, chief technology officer at Rockwell Automation adds,

“The role of the CTO is no longer just to enable technology.  Our role is to use that technology to help move the business forward.  It’s all part of the convergence between IT and OT,”

Chand explains.

“To really get value from that convergence, you’ve got to highlight what value is going to be derived. You don’t want to connect manufacturing to IT for the sake of connecting manufacturing to IT or put all kinds of real-time data into the cloud for no reason.”

The New Manufacturing Renaissance is creating a wave of technologies and ideas.  The revolution threatens to shatter long-standing business models, upend global trade patterns and surpass the radical gains and innovations brought forth by the Industrial Revolution.

Has your organization evolved and embraced the opportunities afforded by the IoE revolution?  Is your CTO driving business relevance through the innovative use of technology?  Have you broken down organizational silos to foster a true innovation culture throughout the manufacturing value chain?

The technology is mightier than the paintbrush.

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The Internet of Everything for Manufacturers: ARC Industry Forum 2014 Highlights

In December, I blogged about Predictions 2014: Wager on the Internet of Everything (IoE) for the Manufacturing Industry.  In terms of thought and verbal capital, investments in IoE/IoT (Internet of Things) are proliferating from top of mind to tip of tongue across industry analysts, pundits, press and producers alike.  Just last week, I joined a record-setting attendance at the ARC Industry Forum 2014 in Orlando, where ARC President Andy Chatha opened the forum theme “Industry in Transition: Information Driven Enterprise in a Connected World” with a keynote focused on Planning for the Industrial Internet of Things. Just last week, I joined a record-setting attendance at the ARC Industry Forum 2014 in Orlando, where ARC President Andy Chatha opened the forum theme “Industry in Transition: Information Driven Enterprise in a Connected World” with a keynote focused on Planning for the Industrial Internet of Things.  Mark Houska of Control Engineering does a nice summary here of the keynote.

The hype frenzy surrounding IoE/IoT has forecasts for economic growth and value-add (EVA) in the trillions (e.g., Cisco estimates $14.4T for Private Sector EVA over the next 10 years plus another $5T for Public Sector), as Andy states: “But this isn’t just another futuristic fad.”  Whether it’s Cisco’s “Internet of Everything“, GE’s “Industrial Internet“, Rockwell Automation’s “IoT Industrial Revolution“, IBM’s “Smarter Planet” or the European “Industry 4.0″, a lot of significant companies are investing significantly.  Value propositions for Industrial IoT, as ARC articulates, are quickly advancing from compelling differentiators to must-have business capabilities and new business models.

ARC Value Proposition of IoE/IoT for Asset Owners

  • Improve Operating Performance -- reduce downtime with predictive maintenance/analytics, sharing contextual information internally and externally and collaborating with ecosystem partners to solve operational problems faster, better, cheaper. Cisco MFG Customer Example: Emirates Aluminum.
  • Lower Asset Lifecycle Costs -- remote monitoring, remote maintenance and service, remote upgrades and refresh (think firmware) all lower operating costs. Cisco MFG Customer Example: Anglo Platinum.
  • Build a Converged Platform for Innovation -- assets are no longer a product purchase, but a platform for services and innovation that--in real-time, contextual collaboration with suppliers--enable leaps in performance. Cisco MFG Customer Example: General Motors.

Read More »

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Integration and Customization in Manufacturing: Some Exciting Trends

Recently I wrote about a few real life examples of IDC Manufacturing Insights 2014 Predictions: Worldwide Manufacturing and their Top 10 predictions in two parts.  They can be found: Part 1 and Part 2.  I wanted to continue with this and wrap up the discussions with some additional examples.   Hopefully, this helps illustrate what is already happening today to help you see some real life examples that are already taking place.

IDC wrote about Product Lifecycle Management or PLM. Traditionally, this is something that has always been a standalone solution and not one that is integrated into the full product design process.  We are seeing an integration of this silo (as I mentioned in my first post on this series) into the product design earlier.  Not only are we seeing this in the design process but also in the actual manufacturing workflow and shop floor design as well.  When a change is made in the product it is quicker then ever before to make a change to the recipe or the manufacturing process with a ‘one click’ push to the operational side of the company.

This helps a company react to the changes that the customers are asking for and also is an incredibly quick way to start to integrate into the ‘mass customization’ that customers are asking for in many consumer products.  Customers want to be able to have a product built for them and for their specifications.  I have seen this happen with my son’s soccer cleats even.  We are now able to order his shoes online with his number on them and they arrive within a week.  While that is as simple as just adding a silk screen it is a great first step in the evolution of customization.  Another example is what Motorola does with the Moto X where you can order the phone to your custom color and options and they will deliver it to you as requested (and for an incredibly low price!). Ultimately this can be done because ever process and every mechanism on the processing line can be tracked and changed on the fly.  At Hannover Messe 2014 we will be part of the Factory 4.0 demonstration that will highlight this integration and customization on the show floor, stop by and see this in action.

The last 2 predictions from IDC are around the future of where we are going and the fact that the investments will be on the factories of the future.  We are already seeing more focus on the shop floor than in the ‘carpeted areas’ where IT had normally lived in within the manufacturing environment then in the past.  With more visibility in the shop floor, companies are able to improve their operations and ultimately drive towards more effective operations.

This trend is apparent with the fact that all of our business partners in this space have started to implement IP and Ethernet in their products.  We have slowly seen this adoption improve over the past 5-7 years and in the past 2 years it is exploding with the implementation that is happening with our customers.  Check out the Industrial IP Advantage as an area to start your own education in this incredibly exciting market.  And, we are here to help you drive towards your operational excellence goals.  Thanks for reading.

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More Reactions to IDC’s 2014 Manufacturing Predictions- Supply Chains and B2B Commerce

Recently I wrote about a few real life examples of IDC Manufacturing Insights 2014 Predictions: Worldwide Manufacturing and their Top 10 predictions. I wanted to continue with some more examples to illustrate what is happening now and hopefully help you see some real life examples that are already taking place.

To follow up with IDC’s Prediction #4

Supply chain technology investment will involve modernizing existing systems while also trying new approaches, many systems already exist, but the issue is that they are in a ‘silo’ versus the other systems and it is difficult to talk across the systems.   If you have multiple vendors on multiple platforms, it is difficult to get to the information but then also make sense of this information.  In fact, most of our customers use different systems within their environment so even within a first level silo (company A) it is difficult to start to see what information exists let alone start to analyze this information.  When you start to get to a second level silo (company A to company B information flows) you are now looking at silos within silos trying to talk with other silos.

I do not see these systems being ‘ripped and replaced’ but augmented with a layer above them to then start to build visibility and correlation across the systems which can then be tracked across companies to add visibility.  We have been working with one of our business partners, HCL, to build a cloud offering where we are able to quickly install a platform, extract data from your existing systems and start to add value to you multiple locations operations and diverse portfolio.

The fifth IDC prediction was around the modernization of the B2B Commerce Backbone.  I have seen this happening with many of our customers and business partners where they are using the information they have already on hand and start to use it in new ways.  Look at this article on Amazon and anticipatory shopping.  By taking the data that they have and mining this information is going to change how and what we order.

We are seeing this same use of analytics from the manufacturing market, not to predict what you are going to order, but when something may fail.  Taking the data and tracking the sensor information, now much easier to access and track with new products and offerings, and driving this into an analytics engine.  Using  analytics, the ‘normal ranges’ are known and can be applied  when the sensors are seeing any abnormalities occur.  This helps to then understand what is happening and where it is happening and then start to understand where items may fail.

A few of our customers are taking this information from their customers and aggregating all of this information from different locations, adding sensors from the environment and then taking this information to drive the predictions back to their customers.  Interestingly, some of our customers and partners see this as a service offering to allow better information and comparisons to stop failures and drive towards the 99.999% uptime that every company would like to have.

How are you wrestling with modernizing or revamping your supply chain? Are you adopting analytics in your sales or manufacturing processes?  Let us know.  Thanks for reading!

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