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HP’s Trojan Horse

Our neighbors in Palo Alto have been making a lot of noise about the difference in price between Hewlett-Packard and Cisco networking equipment. They’d like customers to believe they can offer similar capabilities to Cisco but at much lower prices—“Cisco for less,” if you will.

Most folks understand that the first part of that claim isn’t true. They’re not Cisco. To start with, when a company spends just 2% of revenues on R&D (as HP does), it isn’t capable of generating the type of innovation that a company spending 13% can (as Cisco does). We explained how Cisco innovation delivers differentiated capabilities when we debunked the myth of the ‘Good Enough’ network.

But some customers still ask me about the price difference—the “for less” part.  After all, everyone is looking to cut costs, right?

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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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Early yesterday afternoon we were sitting and reading the paper when the power went out. I knew because all of a sudden the TV went off. Kind of peculiar because it was a bright sunny day, but no big deal so long as it came back on by 3:15 for the Packer game (which they won decisively) and 4:00 for the Brewer game (which they also won decisively).

It came back on after 45 minutes. That is not the cool part though. The cool part was 30 minutes later when the phone call from WE Energies came in. I knew it was WE Energies because the caller ID voice said so, so I answered.

The recorded announcement told me that there had been a power outage (duh…) and that they had fixed the outage and could I press “1” if my power was back on (ummm, I answered the digital phone right?) but then they said they were sorry for the unexpected outage, it had been an equipment malfunction and there were 130 customers impacted.

As I thought about that I thought it was really cool that on a Sunday afternoon they knew about a problem, got people out to fix the problem within a really short time, they knew that I in particular had the problem and that I was one of 130 customers that experienced the problem.

This is the power of real time information from your production facilities. This is the kind of response you should expect from your factory – to know when there is a production problem, to find the right assets to fix the problem and to know how widespread that problem is. Whether you are a small machine shop or a large conglomerate manufacturer, whether you are a systems integrator, a panel builder or a contract manufacturing firm – Cisco’s Borderless Networks and Manufacturing Solutions give you that information today in real time wherever and whenever you need it.

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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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Car makers driving The Internet of Things (part 1 of 2)

Intelligent Cars

I don’t watch too much TV, but I did take some time this weekend between my honey-do’s and soccer transport tasks to keep up with bay area football – it was a good weekend for that.  As expected, there were plenty of car ads.   I was struck by how the high-end auto manufacturers are really focusing on “intelligent” cars – competing in fact.  Cars are now aware of their surroundings (obstacle sensing), aware of their driver (attention assist), able to call emergency assistance, making lots of decisions every second and richly communicating with its driver … or maybe more appropriately stated “passenger”:

These are really smart cars, and they are getting smarter.  It is foreseeable now to imagine automated driving making the driver a true passenger. Read More »

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