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Using the Internet of Things (IoT) to Digitize Your Factory

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Internet of Things or IoT. How it’s going to accelerate efficiencies. Grow profits. Disrupt industries. So it’s time to consider if IoT is real & if you should do something about it right now.

As is often the case, revisiting history can help us better understand what the future holds for us. Imagine it’s 1995, and you’re just starting to hear about this thing called the World Wide Web. How’s it’s going to use the Internet to disrupt commerce/communications and how it’s going to create a digital divide of haves and have-nots? At that time, companies like Compaq, Kodak and Sears were in the Fortune 100 and mobile phones were predominately used for phone calls.

Since then, startups like Google and Amazon have disrupted computing, shopping and entertainment, as well as mobile-web applications that dominate how we live our lives. The companies that survive are the ones that have deployed e-commerce platforms to engage with customers and suppliers, and have strategies to integrate the Web into their business.

Now fast-forward to 2015 and the projected $3.9 Trillion Value at stake for IoT in Manufacturing. Which begs the question: How do we make IoT work for us? And how can it drive change in the various manufacturing verticals?

IoT@ Work in Food Manufacturing

SugarCreek offers an excellent case study for how IoT can be utilized to optimize production, improving factory capabilities and enhancing analytics specifically for consumer packaged goods (CPG) or food & beverage (F&B) manufacturing. By way of background, SugarCreek is the largest independent processor of bacon, meatballs, sausage patties and chicken for both food service and retail. They are about to finish up the refurbishing of a brownfield plant, to create a 418,000 square foot Factory of the Future. Take a look at this video to see an overview of Sugar Creek’s business:

Actually, SugarCreek is ahead of the trend that Food Manufacturing magazine describes:

“IoT is a logical extension of the push to create more intelligent manufacturing processes. By embedding interactive technology in key machines, food manufacturers gain the ability to automate the optimization of equipment in real time, dramatically reducing or eliminating the risk of equipment failures capable of shutting down the entire process”.

Ed Rodden, the CIO of SugarCreek & I will be co-presenting the SugarCreek case study at the upcoming Smart Industry Conference happening from October 5-7 in Chicago. Ed will describe the decision process for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)smart industry 2015 platforms in their new manufacturing plant, including insight into primary use cases, converged factory technologies and new architectures.

I will describe the IIoT process that SugarCreek went through. How we considered each key area of factory operations from product enhancements to how to better enable their workforce. We held workshops with key plant & IT stakeholders to discuss business outcome for each area that included:

  • Reducing expenses by optimizing plant operations
  • Increasing revenues by improving plant capabilities
  • Contributing to a safer & cleaner environment

In order to drill into the technology required in each area, we considered specific pain points & use cases such as how they could strengthen Quality Control through the utilization of technology to identify & eliminate packing material that may be mixed in with meats or how they can increase plant capabilities by including more sensors into their production process. Solving each pain point required a combination of devices, networks & applications to provide a complete technology platform. We will go thru how we conducted a high level return on Investment (RoI) analyses to help the company to quantify the costs & benefits of each platform & prioritize the platforms that would provide the greatest bang for the buck. Find out more details by attending our session.

We hope you can join us for this conference and in particular, this session on Industrial IoT. See you in Chicago!

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It’s Not Just the Connections, It’s the Applications

The Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting sensors, cameras, machines, and other devices at an amazing rate. But what drives the value of these digitized devices is not just the connections—it’s the applications that the connections enable. Think, for example, of a connected transportation system. It is not enough that buses have GPS and can connect to the Internet—what could really make a difference is an application that dynamically plans bus routes based on where people are, how long they have been waiting, and where they are going. That’s where the true value is.

You might even say that applications are the reason we connect things and collect data from those things. So those of us who are building the IoT infrastructure must understand what application developers need, and then enable them to take advantage of the IoT infrastructure and the data it carries. This means we need more than open APIs—we must make it easy for an application to get the data it requires from the infrastructure and to provide input into the infrastructure.

Additionally, we need to respond to the changing ways people want to interact with the devices at the edge. Traditionally, a process engineer might control or program a production line using a fixed human-machine interface (HMI) screen physically attached to the production machinery. Today, there is a growing need for remote and mobile interface capabilities—especially for the growing ranks of Millennials who want to be able to use iPads and other mobile devices to interact with IoT deployments. Cisco’s IOx platform is a flexible application development environment with a goal of enabling developers to connect applications with any protocol, interface, or device. In the future, this could even enable a control engineer in the factory to look at a robot’s operation through smart goggles, instantly viewing maintenance statistics and malfunction alerts.

Millennials in the workforce demand flexibility and mobility in interacting with IoT deployments

Millennials in the workforce demand flexibility and mobility in interacting with IoT deployments

It’s also extremely important to Read More »

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Drones: Just Buzz or Real Business?

“Why Cisco?” I was asked repeatedly after speaking on a panel about drones. “Why not Cisco?” was my passionate response.

Drone 1The occasion was the recent NASA UTM Convention at Silicon Valley’s historic Moffett Field to explore creative traffic management solutions for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), popularly known as drones. At Cisco, we see a full spectrum of public, enterprise and consumer opportunities, as well as an amazing ecosystem of partners evolving around “connected” drones. This isn’t just buzz, but a real business opportunity.

After all, drones capture and transmit “ungodly amounts of data,” as Cisco’s Helder Antunes noted during his keynote session and CNBC interview. Cisco’s network backbone, solutions and applications enable the Internet of Everything (IoE) – the connection of people, processes, data and things – and drones represent important, mobile, data-rich nodes on the network. Please also read Helder’s blog on drones and the IoE here.

drone 2When it comes to drones and many other remotely connected and mobile devices, it’s really all about Collaboration, Cloud, Fog Computing – and Analytics, whether at the edge, across the network or in the cloud. To seamlessly transform raw data from sensors and images into actionable insights, an end-to-end platform is needed to optimally capture, store, share and process data most anywhere.

For example, one of the biggest challenges for drone operations today is to efficiently collect and effectively transfer colossal amounts of data over weak or non-existent network links in remote areas. Many times, these processes take days or weeks before the collected data can be processed and meaningful insights can be derived.

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Drones and the Internet of Everything: Where Does Cisco Fit?

Earlier this summer I was privileged to be the closing keynote speaker at the UTM Convention, sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Silicon Valley chapter. The convention took place at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, and focused on the unmanned-vehicle traffic management (UTM) aspect of drones.

Helder Antunes spoke about the Internet of Everything and drones at the UTM Convention in July.  Photo Credit: NASA Ames Research Center

Helder Antunes spoke about the Internet of Everything and drones at the UTM Convention in July. Photo Credit: NASA Ames Research Center

You might be thinking, “Cisco is a networking company, why would you be involved in a drone conference?” Well, drones have to be connected, and that’s what Cisco does. They transmit massive amounts of data that must be collected, sorted, and analyzed. This is exactly where Cisco should be playing. Read More »

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Announcing the IoTWF 2015 Registration is Now Open!

The Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF), Dubai is just three months away! In its third year, the IoT World Forum is continuing some of our hallmark programs while introducing new activities.

As in previous years, the industry’s leaders in public sector, private business and education will gather again to collaborate, network, partner, and build the IoT ecosystem together.  The IoTWF is the one place where the entire IoT community can share the latest developments and emerging applications, all of which will be on display onsite.

Back this year are amazing keynote speakers, targeted business breakout sessions, our expanded research symposium, an exciting tour to highlight local IoT deployments, our IoT Hack-a-thon, and Innovation and Security Grand Challenges. New this year are technical breakout sessions, proven customer stories to highlight lessons learnt, IoT talks, an interoperable demo, the service provider angle on IoT, and increased time for networking.    With registrations recently opened, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite aspects to this year’s World Forum.

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