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Energy Management and the Factory of the Future

“The future of many companies will depend on their willingness and ability to rethink their supply chains, to experiment with new processes and uses for data from Internet-connected objects that may change supply chains at their foundations.”

John Kern, Senior Vice President of Cisco Supply Chain
As quoted in the Wall Street Journal

 

We often hear the terms Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE) or digitization. They have many definitions, but to me it’s fairly simple. IoT is about the instrumentation of discrete systems that “connect the unconnected” and pull data from devices that were previously unattainable or required physical proximity. On the other hand, digitization is really the innovation that occurs when you take these new connected systems and the information they provide and mash them together in previously impossible ways. One of the industries this is happening faster in than most is the manufacturing sector.

Supply chain image

Over the last year Cisco’s supply chain organization and Flextronics launched a pilot program in Penang (Malaysia ) to explore the “Factory of the Future“ and its possible benefits. One of the priorities was to monitor energy consumption of the many diverse devices on the manufacturing lines as a means to better understand how energy was being used on Flextronics’ plant floor and what could be done to reduce its use and cost to the company.

This portion of the project was led by the Cisco Energy Management Team and it is estimated to save 20%-30% in energy usage, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain, and expand the Cisco Energy Management solution from our IT roots into the IoT domain.

How it Works

Our energy management solution is a cloud-based software and analytics package that measures, monitors, and manages the energy consumption of any connected device. In the Flextronics instance it also required the deployment of sub meters located on the manufacturing shop floor.

Information from the devices is collected, displayed on a robust reporting visualization engine, and analyzed allowing for continued data monitoring, modeling of efficiency improvements, and automated system alerting. This level of sophistication enables automatic energy optimization using highly intelligent device control and management policies such as hibernating or gracefully powering off end devices. Additionally, the solution provides visibility into:

  • Power usage (baselines and trends)
  • Power analytics and device management to reduce consumption by changing behavior
  • Carbon emissions and reduction reporting
  • Utility bill analysis and many other data points

Optimization: Going Beyond Reduced Energy Consumption

Imagine having the visibility and agility to adjust the timing of runs to limit cost based on electricity and nitrogen gas costs during temperature testing. This energy information can be measured and visualized in manufacturing terms such as: areas of the factory (test, assembly), types of equipment (temperature chambers, chillers), and specialized views such as heaters, compressors, blowers and nitrogen gas flow.

Adding a data virtualization layer along with the Cisco Energy Management software suite, brings together a complete energy picture that includes IT devices, Operation Technology devices and IoT sensor data into a single enterprise-wide energy focused view. This delivers an extensive ROI model based not only on energy costs but data driven opportunities to improve operational workflows that help to cut costs.

Where We Are Today?

Man installing energy management deviceTo date, we have nearly 1,300 devices instrumented to monitor energy data on Flextronics’ (Penang) assembly and test floors, its equipment (temperature chambers, chillers, heaters, and compressors), and on the specialized energy use of nitrogen flow.

We are in the final stages of correlating the many data sources such as device energy, shop floor equipment test schedules and the manufacturing production and test databases to determine all the ROI opportunities available for decreasing energy costs from the manufacturing business.

We believe this initiative will help manufacturing supply chains greatly reduce their energy consumption and save tens of millions of dollars in the process. With Flextronics Penang alone, conservative estimates show the company saving $85,000 a month or just over $1M a year in USD.

Whether it’s the manufacturing floor, institutions of education, or smart cities, our goal is to find new ways to connect the unconnected for the benefit of all. The Internet of Things (IOT) is the engine to make it happen and cutting-edge innovation will lead the way.

What does the future look like? Only time will tell but it is clear IoT opens the door to a world of limitless possibilities and innovation will continue to prove supreme in this virtual kingdom.

What are your thoughts and questions about instrumenting the factory floor as a means to reduce energy consumption? Leave your comments below.

Resources:

Cisco Energy Management Suite At-A-Glance
In Malaysia, Cisco Systems trials plant fully wired to Internet (article)

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2015 Manufacturing Industry Predictions

What’s new and trending for the industry? Well, predictions for the upcoming year as a motif is certainly not new but is definitely trending, considering the deluge of pundits concentrating their well-informed thoughts about which industry happenings will emerge through hyperbole and into reality. Amongst go-to industry resources I find myself perusing is LNS Research, who has chosen to break down their Top Three 2015 predictions by industry trend/topic: Industrial IoT; Industrial Energy Management; Environmental Health and Safety; and Asset Performance Management.

Another annual favorite that I’ve blogged about in the past—including commentary on Cisco relevance—is IDC Manufacturing Insights, who this year took on a refreshing, new format entitled IDC Futurescape: Worldwide Manufacturing 2015 Predictions. The team of IDC manufacturing practice analysts quantify and qualify their ten most critical imperatives to be addressed by global manufacturers in 2015 and beyond—based on the coalescence of technology and line of business interests—including a few that are very pertinent to Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE) initiatives:

  • In 2015, customer centricity requires higher standards for customer service excellence, efficient innovation, and responsive manufacturing, which motivates 75% of manufacturers to invest in customer-facing technologies.
  • By 2016, 70% of global discrete manufacturers will offer connected products, driving increased software content and the need for systems engineering and a product innovation platform.
  • By 2018, 40% of Top 100 discrete manufacturers and 20% of Top 100 process manufacturers will provide Product-as-a-Service platforms.
  • In 2015, 65% of companies with more than 10 plants will enable the factory floor to make better decisions through investments in operational intelligence.

Before the analyst predictions pushed their way onto my laptop screen, I was asked by Cisco’s press relations team to put forward my top 3 for the industry. So on All Saints Day, before heading out on weeks of travel to China, India, and several of the United States outside my home residence, I produced three ideas that didn’t make it to our PR megaphone. As part of this blog, I’ve decided to share these three predictions, with some relevant observations from my Nov-Dec travels and customer interactions …

Read More »

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This isn’t your fathers connected life!

chowj-300x400By Joe Chow, VP & GM, Connected Devices Business Unit, Cisco

With the proliferation of IP devices and ubiquitous access to broadband, consumers are increasingly enjoying the benefits of “being connected”. But being able to adjust your thermostat while on vacation or remotely limit your child’s internet access is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a wealth of revenue opportunities that service providers can extract from the business market place.

One example is energy.

What does a service provider have to do with energy you ask? Well Read More »

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A Day in the Life of the ecobee Smart Thermostat Part 2

In a previous article I talked about my thermostat and the Internet of Everything [read here] I questioned the true value my smart meter was providing to my home and my wallet. I said what’s missing is a thermostat that helps me understand my energy consumption habits, allows me to stay within budget (and save money!) and eventually take advance of spot prices on energy. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

The good news is that there are products on the market today that are heading in the right direction. Nest, recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion [read here], offers a “learning thermostat” which Bill MacGowen wrote about earlier in his post: My home thermostat and the Internet of Everything” [read here].

The Nest acquisition is a big deal and there’s already discussions starting to surface on what Google plans to do with the data they will gather from Nest devices. Why is Google getting into the energy management and HVAC market? What will they do with the data? Will there be ads showing up on my Google thermostat? This led me to wonder who else was in this market space? Are there any alternatives to Nest? Of course there are but they’ve been overshadowed by Nest because of the origins of it’s founder (Apple) and Google’s recent purchase.

One of them is ecobee, a Canadian company. While they may not be a household name (yet) they’ve been around since 2007 plugging away and growing their business organically. I reached out to ecobee because I wanted to learn more about the company, it’s founder and his thoughts on where he sees the future heading for IoT/IoE.

Below is part two of my email conversation with the founder and CEO of ecobee, Stuart Lombard. Click here to read part one of the interview.

ecobee logo

In 2013, you opened your API allowing others to integrate with ecobee smart thermostats. Can you explain what this means for advancing IoT and what success looks like so far?
There is a lot of innovation around IoT right now. At ecobee, we want to give our customers the opportunity to experience all of it. But we know we can’t build it all. So we’ve opened our APIs to allow others to integrate with us so we can deliver more value to our customers, and our customers can choose the solutions they want. Currently, we have hundreds of companies – like SmartThings and revolv – building applications around our platform. We’re excited to see where our open API will take our technology. Read More »

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A Day in the Life of the ecobee Smart Thermostat Part 1

In my last article I talked about my thermostat and the Internet of Everything [read here] I questioned the true value my smart meter was providing to my home and my wallet. I said what’s missing is a thermostat that helps me understand my energy consumption habits, allows me to stay within budget (and save money!) and eventually take advance of spot prices on energy. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

The good news is that there are products on the market today that are heading in the right direction. Nest, recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion [read here], offers a “learning thermostat” which Bill MacGowen wrote about earlier in his post: My home thermostat and the Internet of Everything” [read here].

The Nest acquisition is a big deal and there’s already discussions starting to surface on what Google plans to do with the data they will gather from Nest devices. Why is Google getting into the energy management and HVAC market? What will they do with the data? Will there be ads showing up on my Google thermostat? This led me to wonder who else was in this market space? Are there any alternatives to Nest? Of course there are but they’ve been overshadowed by Nest because of the origins of it’s founder (Apple) and Google’s recent purchase.

One of them is ecobee, a Canadian company. While they may not be a household name (yet) they’ve been around since 2007 plugging away and growing their business organically. I reached out to ecobee because I wanted to learn more about the company, it’s founder and his thoughts on where he sees the future heading for IoT/IoE. Below is part one of my email conversation with the founder and CEO of ecobee, Stuart Lombard.

ecobee logo

 

Stu_440x275 (1)1)Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?

I started my career building control systems for large international electric utilities. Then I caught the ‘Internet’ bug and founded two successful companies – one of the first internet service providers in Canada, InfoRamp Inc., and one of the first virtual private networking companies, at the time called Isolation Systems Ltd. Read More »

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