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The Digital Manufacturer: Advancing a New Revolution in Efficiency and Quality

With robotics and automation, manufacturers have advanced our industry over the last few decades, driving innovations and improvements in productivity and efficiency that were once only the imagination of science fiction writers and TV/movie producers. Today, however, the next wave of transformation is required—in order to take companies and the industry to even grander levels—with a digital revolution in manufacturing.

Pressures on manufacturers from global market upheavals, changing customer expectations, and digital disruption require companies to take every competitive advantage—at every step in the supply chain and beyond. To meet these demands and market transition, manufacturers must have deep organizational and technological progress, what we refer as digital business transformation.

To explore some of the mounting pressures on manufacturers—and the exciting opportunities to capture new value with digitization—Cisco recently undertook and released a comprehensive research study. This research includes Read More »

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3D printing is here. How will your organization respond?

As someone who has spent his career developing a deep knowledge of manufacturing and software, I’m rapidly becoming a major “fan” of 3D printing. The technology offers exciting possibilities that can radically change multiple industries including manufacturing. According to Industry Week, “a survey by the global consultancy PwC found that 67% of manufacturers are adopting 3-D printing in some way, most frequently in prototyping.” At the same time, ubiquitous 3D printing introduces new complexities around intellectual property ownership, counterfeiting and diversion issues that we’ve yet to fully confront.

3D printing has the potential to globally disrupt multiple industrial processes and supply chains. In the case of manufacturing on an assembly line, parts or products can be created through 3D printing on-site, potentially eliminating the need for separate parts suppliers. Take a look at how one leading industrial company, GE Aviation, is leveraging additive manufacturing in the video below.

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In the Beauty Industry, IoE “Lights Up” How People Try On, Wear, and Even Produce Custom Makeup

Connecting Dark Assets: An ongoing series on how the Internet of Everything is transforming the ways in which we live, work, play, and learn.

For months now, I’ve been talking about how the Internet of Everything (IoE) “lights up” dark assets—but I never thought I’d be talking about makeup in that context. Of course, my wife would be quick to point out that many people consider makeup a critical asset, so it’s really not that different from other things whose value increases through the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. Here are three examples: Read More »

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Manufacturers Are Following the Crowd to ‘Drive’ Innovation

The appetite for the latest new products and services is growing exponentially driven by the 24 hour, on demand, social media driven, next day delivery expecting,  ‘selfie’ posing with the new shiny object, hyper informed consumer.  Satisfying the demand for this fast-paced consumer cycle requires manufacturers to move rapidly to stay ahead of competitors and consumer tastes. They must bring interesting and exciting new products to market in a timely fashion, whether they are first to market or responding to a competitor’s new product offerings.

Two specific trends are emerging and transforming how the industry develops, manufactures and meets the demands of the new on demand consumer driving market – crowd sourcing and 3D printing.

Manufacturing Game Changers:  Crowdsourcing and 3D Printing

Crowdsourcing is not a new development model.  In fact, the open-source model gave us the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server over 20 years ago.  But there is one very distinct difference when applying crowdsourcing methodology to a manufacturing process, as opposed to software development, and that is raw material.   This is where 3D printing technology is rapidly maturing driving orders of magnitude efficiencies and cost savings into the value chain.

A Printed Car

In fact, a start-up called Local Motors is on the cutting edge of combining crowdsourcing and 3D printing to revolutionize the automobile industry. In a process that Local Motors calls “co-creation,” — also known as “crowdsourcing” — the software allows enthusiasts to post a design for a part that other users in a worldwide community can call up on a browser, see in 3D, take measurements from, and comment on, thus providing a new model and methodology for innovation.  Local Motors then leverage 3D printing technology to deploy “microfactories”

Can crowdsourcing and 3D printing produce an electric car?

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Cisco Innovations, Moving Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

As Kevin Sullivan points out in his recent blog, partnerships are an important strategic approach to today’s R&D and innovation.  Kevin recommends strategies that industry-winning manufacturers can follow.

Investments in innovation are exciting.  They inspire creativity and they fuel our economy.

What an afternoon of innovation looks like at Cisco

I was thrilled to discover that an institute for manufacturing innovation was recently launched in Youngstown, Ohio.  This effort embodies a publicly and privately-funded partnership aimed at fueling R&D and innovation.  Along with the U.S. federal government, a consortium of impressive manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations formed a partnership called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).  They contributed a combined $70M to the Youngstown manufacturing innovation effort.

Motivated resources from a variety of academic, manufacturing and business backgrounds will come together to advance technology and manufacturing.  And what will this Youngstown institute focus on first?  Additive manufacturing.  What is additive manufacturing?  It’s the more formal name for 3D printing.  And it’s quite cool.

But what does 3D printing have to do with Cisco?

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