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Now’s the Time to Deploy Wireless in the Factory

tony shakib connected factory banner pic

Since manufacturers around the globe constantly have to adapt to ever shifting market conditions, any technology that lends a competitive advantage can be a game changer. Implementing wireless on the factory floor can be just that. And our announcement with Rockwell Automation this week at Automation Fair, will make this a no-brainer. The announcement covered enhancements to our joint architecture with Rockwell Automation called the Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE). The Cisco branded version, called Connected Factory, is a portfolio of validated, proven architectures, capabilities and market-leading technologies and services for industrial markets. Factory Wireless is the latest solution offering in this portfolio and delivers unified wireless for industrial applications. Read More »

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From Local to Global: Extending Our IoE Innovation Strategy with openBerlin and TTTech

mfg Blog 110714There are people all over the world doing truly innovative acts to move the technology needle, but without proper support, many of these ideas fail to come to true fruition. We at Cisco are committed to doing our part by guiding these creators towards a path of success. With both internal and external programs to feed innovation – including the Cisco Internet of Things (IoT) Innovation Grand Challenge and the Technology Fund – we aim to nurture disruptive ideas.

In this light, we were pleased to announce in September the establishment of an IoE Innovation Center in Berlin, Germany – openBerlin. Scheduled to open the summer of 2015, openBerlin will focus on the rapid prototyping of solutions in the transportation and manufacturing verticals. openBerlin marks the sixth Innovation Center in Cisco’s portfolio and joins its successors in Rio, Brazil; Toronto, Canada; Songdo, South Korea; Barcelona, Spain; and London, UK. Read More »

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Internet of Everything (IoE) – The Key to the Next Leap Toward Frictionless Business

Fighting “Friction” in the Check-Out Line and Beyond

You pull up to the gas pump, wait in a long line, and then fumble with your debit card and the touchscreen. Once at your hotel, you search mightily to find a parking spot before struggling with the ticket payment system. And then comes check-in, which entails more waiting in line at the front desk to get the key, before discovering that the key doesn’t work.  When you finally get in the room, it’s set way hotter than your preference.

OK, none of these experiences are major hardships, let alone life threatening. But taken together, along with so many other time-wasting aggravations — or business friction — they do take a toll: on energy bills, productivity, and nervous systems!

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IoT, STEM, Women, Innovation, Manufacturing and the 52% Opportunity

I can humbly say that I can now understand, embrace and apply the phrase that my grandfather often spoke, “Son, I’ve lived a little.  Trust your eyes more than your ears.   May the HOPE experienced by your ears be the reality of your eyes.”

I, one day HOPE that the reality of equality and opportunity for all people regardless of culture, socioeconomic status, gender or sexual orientation is achieved in my lifetime.

So, what does all this HOPE stuff have to do with IoT, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Manufacturing, Innovation and Women? Stem Women

Well, let me explain……….

Here’s some metrics you may be familiar with:

  • IoT global value opportunity estimated to be over $8 Trillion
  • Over the next 10 years it is estimated there will be two million unfilled STEM related jobs globally
  • 82 percent of American manufacturers surveyed reported a moderate or severe shortage of high-skilled workers
  • Of the 52% — of women who earn STEM degrees, 52% leave the field within 10 years.

2014 IoT World Forum

…. But HOPE descended upon the Windy City of Chicago last week in the form of The Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum sponsored by Cisco Systems and its partners, including Rockwell Automation and Panduit.  The forum brought over 1700 thought leaders, executives, and creators representing companies and entities in the public, private, and education sectors

The event served as a platform and opportunity for participants to leverage the mindshare, perspectives and experiences from their peers.  The objective of the event was to evolve the IoT conversations FROM determining the IoT value opportunity TO “how” value can/is being realized from the IoT paradigm.  The HOPE is to leverage IoT to bring real and positive disruptive change to all sectors of society including education, finance, politics, environment, education, food, business and technology.  This can only be achieved by soliciting, including and welcoming a diversity of perspectives obtained from both women and minorities.

The 52% Opportunity

The event agenda was well put together with a broad range of diverse and engaging IoT topics being presented and discussed.  One of those agenda topics was entitled, “Women in IoT (STEM and the Lost 52%)

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Field Support for New Workers with Mobile video Collaboration – Wherever They Are

Holding onto “Tribal Knowledge”

Recent data from the Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that approximately 60% of electric utility workers will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. The impending loss of the most skilled and knowledgeable workers in the industry has put many utility companies on red alert.  This potential workforce crisis means that companies have just a few years to transfer what’s often referred to as, “Tribal Knowledge” from those retiring to those who will have to fill their shoes.

Many utility workers hold positions within their companies for nearly 30 years, so one can easily imagine the amount of intangible knowledge and varying experiences that each worker has. What companies really need is a way to tap into the experienced worker’s knowledge while traveling in the field.  Better yet, they would like to find a way to limit travel in the field; traveling hundreds of miles to analyze and solve problems poses its own set of risks, from driving hazards to on the job injuries. When something goes wrong on the grid, lives are at risk.

Challenges in the Field

Much of the information and knowledge needed by today’s utility worker is stored in a computer or in the cloud, and is not accessible in the field by the organization’s workers. Because of this, institutional knowledge and expertise decreases. Many companies today are purchasing collaboration solutions, including web meeting software, video and Internet-based phone systems. This package is intended to upgrade collaboration across business units, address the issues of lost tribal knowledge, increase workforce effectiveness and manage company priorities arising from their aging workforce. Challenges faced include a slow, sub-optimal rollout plan, forced by lower company revenues. Analysis points to automation of capture and storage of knowledge, utilities could take advantage of their expert employee’s skills and leverage their knowledge for less experienced workers in the field, thereby giving a good return on investment for early deployment of mobile collaboration.

There are three immediate problems to resolve: access to Tribal Knowledge, better utilization of experts for training, and improving safety for the mobile workforce traveling in the field.  Companies remind us on a regular basis that training a utility lineman can take 10 years or more – and the average age of the current power lineman workforce is 47-years-old.  Utilities are also focusing on retention of younger employees, who are generally more technologically savvy and who expect work access to tools they use outside the workplace, like smart phones and other wireless technologies.  In fact, new or younger workers prefer to work in an area with new technology. Mobile devices such as smart phones and ruggedized tablets can be especially useful in the field where workers can get access to advice from experts in real-time or even start a meeting -- all to create increase access to institutional knowledge.

One component of Cisco’s solution is expert locator software. Employees such as line workers and technicians would have the ability to be connected anytime or anywhere via a five-product Enterprise Collaboration solution: Expert Locator, IP call control with video IP phones, web meeting (Webex), an immersive video solution (TelePresence) and ruggedized mobile video (Librestream Onsight).

New technology can change the way utilities conduct business

Workers would use mobile video in the field to show details of problems to experts throughout the company, senior workers could provide advice and support for repair of damaged equipment in the field without having to travel to the field. Experts can also quickly convene and escalate meetings to resolve a problem via the web and Telepresence. If a worker is on-site and there are challenges with a device, the worker can start a meeting, have the ability to share and give/get advice in real-time. Because of this, repair times go down while safety goes up.

How can Cisco help your organization support new collaboration and create a mobile workforce? Find out more by visiting our solutions page and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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