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The Digital Manufacturing Landscape and the Path Forward.

Any discussion on digital transformation and IoT leads to the fundamental question – “What are the possibilities and impacts in my industry?” The manufacturing industry has been dealing with this question for the last 50 years and in fact, has been an early adopter of technology to enable transformation.   For example,  in the mid-to-late 20th-century, automated inventory control systems (ICS),  material resource planning systems (MRP), and  enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) had a tremendous impact on the foundational operations within manufacturing across the world.  Then in the later part of the 20th-century and the early part of 21st-century transformations within this industry were enabled by the emergence of the PC, explosion of the internet, realization of e-business, availability of IP-based technologies, universal  adoption of RFID and proliferation of wireless components.  All of these innovations marked the first era of digital manufacturing.  This era had a primary focus on using technology to achieve efficiencies, effectiveness and productivity gains particularly within the supply chain, and product lifecycle management functions.

Digital Manufacturing

Today pioneering and prominent manufacturers are looking at the next generation of digital manufacturing which will utilize technology to enable new customer experiences that enhance profitable revenue growth. The German government is credited with calling this next era Industry 4.0. They characterize this era as a time when “people, machines, and industrial processes are intelligently networked.”

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As Manufacturers Go Digital, Customer Value Expands

Every single day, I’m reminded that a digital revolution is taking place—from researching local coffee places on the dashboard of my car to ordering coffee on my mobile device—it’s clear that our lives are becoming more digitized. This is also apparent for the businesses and industries that manufacture the goods that we use everyday. In order to compete today, manufacturers must respond to complex and constantly changing demands from their customers. That requires the agility, rapid innovation, and fast execution that only digital manufacturing can deliver. Too many manufacturers, however, still lack these critical capabilities and suffer from fragmented and siloed organizational structures.

This was reinforced by new research from Cisco on the current and future state of digital disruption in manufacturing. The study included economic analysis, interviews with manufacturing industry thought leaders, and a survey of more than 600 senior leaders from 13 countries, representing both industrial machine builders and end-user manufacturers.

Our research confirmed that manufacturers get it. They understand that a digital revolution is taking place, and they want to be part of it. Seventy-nine percent believe that digital disruption will drive a moderate to major impact at their companies in the next three years. Moreover, they see digital technologies such as cloud, IoT, and analytics as having the biggest impact on their production — not more manufacturing-centric technologies such as robotics and 3D printing.

However, in terms of driving new value, many are faltering. Their service strategies, for example, are seen as a key opportunity for new revenue, but they are not driving expected levels of growth.

Digital business transformation is the solution, but it can’t be done in a piecemeal fashion; it must be implemented across the entire organization and beyond, throughout the ecosystem. Analytics, cloud, machine-to-machine connections, and collaboration tools all enable new opportunities for sharing data insights. Getting those insights to the people (or machines) who need them most, on the other hand, can be challenging. In this context, silos — between IT and operational technology (OT), engineering and design, and so forth — are the enemy to progress.

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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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Introducing “The Smart Bottling and Distribution System” from Cisco

When it comes to the Internet of Everything, few industries have as much opportunity, or as much at stake, as manufacturing. Specifically, certain verticals such as Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Food and Beverage manufacturing face unique challenges and opportunities. According to the Price Waterhouse 2015 Consumer Goods Report , the current market is seeing “changing consumer attitudes toward products and brands, as the great fragmentation of consumer markets takes another turn. In response, companies must dramatically shift the route they take to reach consumers in terms of both product distribution and communications.” In particular, bottlers have to adopt to these industry trends as well as changing distribution, fleet and territorial roles. Success in this new era requires smarter, more streamlined operations and the ability to respond to opportunities and problems in real time.

At Cisco, we are constantly seeking new ways to connect data, people, processes and things to help businesses thrive. Our goal is to continually drive solutions that simplify systems for our customers so they can focus on adding real value to their business. That’s why we’re excited to announce The Bottling and Distribution Smart System powered by Cisco, a user-friendly portal that we created while working with leading global bottling and distribution enterprises.

Our customers in the bottling and distribution industry have told us that their businesses suffer when they have to patch together different solutions for reporting, fleet management, maintenance records and more. Read More »

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Connected Machines: Reducing Unplanned Downtime and Improving Service

Many manufacturers operate at high volumes, and unplanned production downtime is costly. One leading auto manufacturer estimates unplanned downtime in a factory can cost them as much as $20,000 per minute. Often these line down situations are the result of production machine failures that could be avoided if data from the machine was available to anticipate the failure so a planned repair could take place in a standard maintenance window. I’ve traveled the world recently and visited with the world’s leading manufacturers across many sectors. What I have seen is that almost all of them are focused on reducing unplanned downtime with predictive maintenance.

This issue is also driving plant floor machine builders and their manufacturing customer to prioritize their digitization and IoT efforts to connect machines to enable real time access to new types of structured and unstructured data from production processes. This is a recurring theme reiterated in a recent survey by SCM World and Cisco. We asked plant managers and business line executives what “things” they were connecting now and in the years ahead. Production equipment was listed as a top priority, with 62 percent planning to connect these resources by 2020.

SCM slide CM blog

Machine Builder OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are facing new business imperatives, as well, to grow services business and customer intimacy. As their manufacturing customers demand the highest possible availability, quality and uptime, OEMs are striving to become more agile and proactive. They’re looking for solutions to enable zero-touch deployment and provisioning. They’re exploring ways to control support costs with remote connectivity and monitoring. They’re also taking more control of the aftermarket for parts and tools. Connectivity and remote access are essential capabilities to enable new predictive maintenance and machine-as-a-service (MaaS) business models.

By some estimates there are more than 60 million machines in factories throughout the world and 92% are not network-connected.1 So the task is enormous and only achievable with a simple, secure and scalable solution from a company that can deliver it globally.   Read More »

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