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Tracking Assets: RFID Meets Industrial Wi-Fi – Industrial Ethernet Book Part 1

October 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm PST

I had the pleasure of meeting up with both Leo Ploner, Publishing Director, Industrial Ethernet Book (IEB) and Tom McNulty from the Chicago, US office recently here in Silicon Valley recently. I was pleased to see that Cisco had contributed to an article in the 65 / 35 Issue of the Industrial Ethernet Book around the topic of RFID and industrial WiFi – a topic close to my own heart in terms of previous blogs of mine (Intro to RFID, Continental Tire, Boeing, and John Deere).

The first Industrial Ethernet Book was published in 1999.  Since then it become an excellent  information source for industrial networking and communication technology, and aims to provide unbiased editorial views focused on both process and discrete manufacturing industries. The editorial content is aimed at end users, system integrators and vendors within factory automation and process automation.

The article starts with the recognition that “Increasingly ‘smart’ devices, which include radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and sensors that have advanced diagnostics, are contributing to the billions of devices now connected to IP networks. This proliferation of smart devices is referred to by some as the ‘Internet of Things’, and it is projected to grow to trillions of devices that will be connected using the emerging IPv6 protocol (ref1). For manufacturers, a growing number of connected smart devices promises to revolutionise portability, mobility, context-aware condition and use of critical assets.” Read More »

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Continue driving the Internet of Things

So, in my last blog, I pointed out that Manufacturers, and particularly car makers, will be driving the Internet of Things (IoT) by incorporating standard networks into their machines.   I also indicated that evolving the standards is going to be critical to that adoption.

Applying standard networks (by that I mean Ethernet, IP, TCP/UDP, 802.11/WiFi, etc.) machines is going to be a distinctly different than the networking of computers, phones and the plethora of tablets and handheld devices that has driven the Internet and standard networks to date. Read More »

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Why are you here?

There are a few of us at Cisco that write here regularly. We care about what is going on in Manufacturing in general, but more specifically, in terms of integrating the manufacturing networks into the Enterprise and speeding adoption of open standards to enable more efficient production.

I will later this month be launching a series on how Machine Builders can more readily enable productivity by integrating more closely with their end users (call that “convergence”) or by helping their end users be more productive by enabling secure remote access. But that is later this month.

Today I want to talk about how we all communicate. It isn’t just by wires. It isn’t just by mouth. We have a plethora of communication means available to us. I’m talking about us people to other people in the industry. It is by building contacts with people in industry and spreading the word. That is what we at Cisco are doing.

We don’t have every answer. We think we’ve got a number of good ones. We’re enhancing some of the areas. But this is not a commercial for Cisco. This is a commercial for open dialogue between those that care about Manufacturing.

There are a few good spokespeople for this effort, and I want to call them out. And I admit right upfront this is not a complete list. But please bear with me. Read More »

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Efficient Giving

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that US manufacturing productivity’s average annual rate of growth (AARG) from 2007 to 2010 is 2.0%. In addition, the report cited that from Jan 1972 to August 2010, the number of people employed in US manufacturing jobs fell from 17,500,000 to 11,500,000 while manufacturing value rose 270%.

Upon reading these statistics, I began to reflect on how technology has radically changed every facet of how we live, work, and connect with each other. I began to ponder, if we could measure and plot our country’s “compassion curve” against the Information Age (circa 1975 – present) would it reflect the same growth and efficiency gains that have been realized by our manufacturing sector? Could we conclude that our society has become increasingly more insensitive and greedy, or more compassionate and giving? Read More »

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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.

Read More »

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