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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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How IoE Enabled the Automotive Connected Factory of the Future

For most manufacturing companies today, product and services innovation, the introduction of new models, and the need for flexibility and workforce engagement are some of the business drivers requiring a new way to look at factory automation. Often, the ideal opportunity to tackle these challenges arises when a company is expanding capacity or building a new production facility ‘greenfield’. The Internet of Everything plays into this opportunity perfectly as easier and more seamless ways to connect people, process and data have emerged. Mahindra and Mahindra, one of India’s leading automakers, seized just that opportunity to deploy a Connected Factory of the future, building the Chakan facility north of Pune in Maharashtra, to expand capacity on existing models and introduce brand new Mahindra model categories. Read More »

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Get Ahead of the Curve in 2015: Invest in IoT

As the holiday season gets into full swing, executives like you are polishing off strategic and operational plans for the New Year. For many manufacturing companies, 2014 was a good year, for some outstanding, and most manufacturers are optimistic for more of the same in 2015. According to MAPI’s US Industrial Outlook, “manufacturing will continue to grow faster than the overall economy,” with 2015 growing at a higher rate than 2014.

Because manufacturers are looking to get ahead of this growth curve and set the stage for competitive differentiation and advantage in 2015, you are utilizing budgets remaining from 2014 to make smart investments now in new technologies, before the year comes to a close. With strategic investments in operations or R&D/engineering, companies position themselves to be more agile, productive and competitive while the economy slowly but surely continues to strengthen. In an Industry Week report, “Manufacturers are optimistic about their businesses as well as the economy as a whole, and are investing accordingly … Following a profitable growth strategy, they are controlling costs while introducing new products, increasing sales from existing customers, and leveraging data to make smarter business decisions.”

In recent conversations with a few of my Cisco colleagues who happen to be 20+yr Manufacturing / OT (Operations Technology) veterans, these industry gurus describe how they counsel manufacturing clients during the transitional holiday season. Steve Gansen points out that for many companies, budgets need to be expended this calendar year-end (‘use it or lose it’), which presents a great opportunity to change the prioritization for projects. “Many of my customers see this as an opportunity to reprioritize projects and drive budget to improve R&D or product engineering and offerings.” (His comments reminded me of the Sub-Zero’s innovative investments in their product development, NPI and processes.)

Jim Fledderjohn and Dwayne Edwards add that there are other considerations for a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) proof-of-concept (PoC) projects for production environments and engineering programs that present incremental, re-directional opportunities at year-end. From video surveillance to energy management, to factory wireless and plant virtualization, there are many compelling use cases that can be easily ‘piloted’ to deliver immediate business outcomes and measurable ROI. In fact, an option recently announced at Automation Fair is Cisco Services Factory Starter Kit, a fast-track, turnkey PoC package of wireless capabilities for your plant environments.

Jim further describes, “Piloting an IoT project on a small scale lets manufacturers test out a concept in their environment and puts them in a better position to win budget and additional investment in 2015.” Particularly in the US—where according to the latest ISM Report On Business for November, the manufacturing sector expanded for the 18th consecutive month—momentum in the industry just keeps building. And considering manufacturing technologies that include embedded intelligence and IoT, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), orders for 2014 are showing growth of >5%.

Are YOU planning end-of-the-year investments in IoT? Let us know what you think in the comment block below. Thanks for reading.

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Attending The Automation Conference Should be an Automatic Decision

MFG TACWebHeader

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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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.

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