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Cisco and Partners demonstrate Converged Plantwide Ethernet, All in One Place

November 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm PST

Are you trying to get your arms around what’s included in a well-designed EtherNet/IP industrial infrastructure?  Look no further!  Here’s an example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) came alive at Automation Fair recently:

An integrated design from Cisco, Rockwell Automation, Panduit and Fluke Networks demonstrates standards-based solutions for manufacturing agility and operational excellence!

In the video above, a single Converged Plantwide Ethernet enclosure is outfitted to include: Read More »

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Machine Builder Business Models, Sustainability and Innovation

So my wife and I recently took a two week vacation to Alaska – without computers or anything but camera’s and our ever important smartphones. I didn’t realize that Marie Hattar, our Segment VP was going to write a blog about the importance of vacations and productivity – see that here. Imagine that, I overachieved via a vacation!

At any rate, back to the vacation – we left on Sunday so Saturday was reserved for clothes washing and packing. Great plan until the motor on the washing machine froze. We ended up Saturday night finishing the wash at her father’s house. Then after the trip (that was fabulous by the way. Everyone needs to take a cruise through the Inside Passage!) we ended up having the repair service visit to confirm the motor was shot (new motor cost more than the washer was worth, so conclusion: buy a new one) and using his washer/dryer for another week. That meant bundling up two plus weeks of wash, carrying it to his house, doing the wash for a few hours, etc.

I was reminded of the challenges a manufacturing company would have due to an unexpected machine breakdown. You have to isolate the problem, get appropriate repairs, possibly upgrade the machine, possibly line up alternate manufacturing capability, etc. I’ve blogged before about the needs for continuing MRO schedules and the importance of properly servicing your manufacturing machines and lines. But how do you prepare for a critical machine that suddenly breaks? Can you rapidly sub out the work? Can you quickly get the machine replaced? What if the newer machine doesn’t fit in the line directly? Read More »

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Maintain or Replace – be Energy Efficient or not – continuing the debate

So the other day my wife told me the water in the shower didn’t seem as hot as it normally does. “Maybe something wrong with the water heater?” she said. I did all the normal checks: no water on the basement floor, pilot is lit, check, check. All seems ok.

We happened to go to Home Depot to buy some other stuff, but we ran into the water heater guy.  His diagnosis: water heater going bad. (Full admission, it is 11 years old)

I kind of buy his story, it makes sense. Here is an appliance that is 11 years old that I never maintained. Expected life is 10 years, so I am already plus one, right? And maybe a new one would be more efficient, right?

But isn’t that the sort of internal argument manufacturers go through every day? Sunk cost (what they already paid for) vs. Maintenance vs. Replacement? How efficient are the machines you bought 10 or 15 years ago? How do you know? How much does it cost you for a shutdown for two to three days while you secure a replacement machine and install it? Wouldn’t that information be valuable to you if it was visible? How do you know?

Energy management/awareness is certainly a big part of this sustainability issue. Check out this video from Chet:

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Borderless Networks and Manufacturing

So here we are, in the middle of March Madness. Lots of people that don’t normally follow college basketball, but still a great social environment and an opportunity to get together and pretend we know the teams we all picked in our brackets. Sometimes we pick based on “loyalty” and other times there are other reasons.  We all have various “borders” we deal with every day.

So, bring on Borderless Networks. In the manufacturing area we still tend to think of a “border” between the factory and the business. After all, how can those people in the front office know what we need in the factory, right? Well, that separation gets smaller and smaller every day. Why? Because we’ve blurred the border. Sure, there are appropriate firewalls and security between the various layers. But every day we run into people that tell about needing data from the plant, from the machine, from the supplier, from the sales force, from the channel, from the customer. And sometimes we’re not in the office, we may be at home, at a different supplier, in an airport, at a concert or ball game with our kids.

The point becomes, there is data there and I am not there but I need to make a call and affect my plant productivity or answer a question from my CEO because there is a big opportunity or a major customer disappointment about to happen.

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