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John Deere avoids cost with Cisco Wireless Architecture

September 29, 2011 at 11:40 am PST

Maybe you’ve seen the recent article in RFID Journal: John Deere Planter Factory Gains Efficiency.

John Deere, working with integration and technology partners Prime Technologies (now Kubica) and AeroScout, used the existing Cisco Wi-Fi networking nodes that it had already installed throughout the facility to avoid the expense of installing RFID readers for a new manufacturing solution.

John Deere MaxEmergeXP

Here’s the story: John Deere’s  Seeding Group factory in Moline, Ill. was seeking an automated solution to improve on its manual work in process manufacturing system.  It wanted to increase efficiency in the way it replenished welding material as well as improve the way it carried out processes at its assembly stations at the plant. The factory in question assembles John Deere’s  row-crop planter machines -- the MaxEmerge XP range -  that are used by farmers to deposit a variety of seed in soils and seedbeds.

The new system uses a wireless back-haul to a Cisco infrastructure that enables the SAP, reporting and programmable logic controller (PLC) systems to communicate live.  It’s intended to improve material replenishment and reduce delays caused by waiting for materials in its welding areas.  It allows the equipment manufacturer’s kitting staff to boost material replenishment speed, and allows assembly workers to prepare for specific equipment as it approaches their assembly stations. The RFID Journal Story goes into excellent detail on the wip process and the process improvement, but I did want to reiterate some of the key business metrics:

“Our goal was to improve Takt time *,” says Shay O’Neal, John Deere Seeding Group’s project manager, who expects the reduction to increase from what he estimates may be about 5 percent improvement in Takt time thus far. He reckons there has been a 40 percent reduction in cycle time because of the improvement in replenishment. He has also seen a decrease in overtime work undertaken by kitting staff at the welding station. “I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the system met our needs,” O’Neal said in the RFID Journal article.

  • John Deere has seen a 40 percent increase in efficiency in welding due to improvements in material replenishment and fewer delays caused by waiting for materials in its welding areas.
  • On the assembly line, the system provides a view into the work in process (WIP), which thus far has reduced the cycle time (Takt) it takes to assemble a single product by about 5 percent.
  • Since existing Cisco Wi-Fi nodes read the RFID tag of each seeder as it passes from one assembly station to another, indicating where it has been and what its next assembly location will be, John Deere avoided the expense of installing RFID readers.

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STEM and the U.S. Manufacturing Conundrum

The Conundrum

In my most recent blog “U.S. manufacturing: is it sustainable?“, I referenced an article about how U.S. manufacturing has been leading the economy out of the depths of the Great Recession.  The authors put forward a thesis with supporting data that suggest Americans believe the manufacturing industry is the basis for wealth creation and is fundamental to a sustained and successful U.S. economy.

The rub is that only 30% of Americans said they have or would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.

Why such a discrepancy? An answer to this question is not simple. However, I do believe we must seek that answer and address the gap, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Being an engineer myself--a manufacturing and controls engineer no less--I know the first and most essential step to a solution is making sure we’ve defined the problem well.

A 2009 survey by the American Society for Quality, as reported on manufacturing.net, helps to shine a light on our problem.

According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.

Survey findings on the adult side:

  • Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged or will encourage their child(ren) to consider an engineering career.
  • The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

So, while American children and adults both feel that math and science are important (even enjoyable), there is an ironic disconnect (cognitive dissociation?) between recognizing the importance and committing to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing.

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Boeing Delivers First 787 Dreamliner. Cisco Delivers Solutions to Boeing. Congratulations Both!

September 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm PST

Congratulations to Boeing on shipping it’s first 787 Dreamliner to ANA (All Nippon Airways). The world has been waiting and US Manufacturing has delivered. But it’s not just US Manufacturing -- suppliers as far away as Australia, Italy, Japan and Russia, to name but a few countries have been working with Boeing Engineers to bring the airplane to market -- and using Cisco or Cisco Partner technologies to do so!

The video, courtesy Associated Press’ YouTube Channel, shows the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner Airplane being handed over by Jim Albaugh, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, to ANA’s President and CEO - with a large key!

Jim does talk about the delays -- but it was such a vast undertaking -- and in the ‘old days’ it would have taken a lot longer! There are plenty of Manufacturing improvements that have taken place over the decades that have helped speed things up. Here are three Cisco Solution areas where Cisco and its partners made a difference: Cisco WebEx, Cisco MMVC (Manufacturing Mobile Video Collaboration) Solution, and Cisco Context aware, many using Cisco Unified Industrial Architectures. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 for any manufacturer who wants to know the secrets. Here’s how, and with customer comments to boot

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VMworld 2011 – Day 2 – Daily Blogger Techminute – Cloud Computing

Daily Blogger Techminute is back in Vegas Baby, Vegas!!  This time it’s for VMworld 2011. So far the show has been huge (20,000+ attendees) and past paced with announcements from Cisco, VMware and our partners. The Cisco booth is focused on Cloud/Virtualization, VDI/VXI and Automation, so we thought it would be great to kick off the week with experts in all of those areas.

Our techblogger guests today were:

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Cisco Live 2011 Industrial Intelligence Day Customer feedback – “A Great Success”

July 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm PST

Cisco Live’s first ever “Industrial Intelligence Day” focusing on manufacturing and industrial customer needs was judged a great success according to the feedback  given at the sessions in Las Vegas this week. In an action packed day attendees heard about trends in network convergence between business IT and Industrial plant networks, and how standard Ethernet IP protocols were becoming prevalent in industrial and control networks.

As Master of Ceremonies, I had the pleasure of introducing Alan Cohen, Vice President, Global Public Sector & Industry Solutions. Alan kicked off the day talking about the care-abouts of executives in Manufacturers and how Cisco is addressing them. He used real-life customer examples such as Coca-Cola, General Motors, GE, Continental Tire and Anglo Platinum. Alan expressed how Cisco was helping these customers address the challenges of  Growth, Market Transitions, Innovation, Risk and Goverance.  This set up a good interactive environment for Bryce Barnes and John Parello to introduce Energy and Sustainability for the manufacturing sector. Bryce pointed out that 35% of all energy usage in the world is consumed by manufacturing industry and we added that that figure goes over 50% if you include the transportation and distribution of those manufactured goods and materials.

After watching John Chamber’s Insightful Keynote, delegates returned to hear Paul Didier and Chris Haley (both Cisco) and Gregory Wilcox (Rockwell Automation) talk about the status and trends for wired LANs including resilience and security with a fascinating presentation on Motion from Gregory. That was followed by wireless strategies from David Wolf and Scott Friberg from Cisco talking about wireless innovations and real-world testing where wireless is now deemed appropriate for time critical applications. Then delegates went to the main tent for a thought-provoking session. Read More »

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