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From the Mine Shaft to the Store Shelf — an IoE Revolution in Manufacturing

Since Henry Ford, the alchemy of turning raw materials into mass-produced products has been complicated and challenging. At best, it has been a delicate and precarious balancing act; at worst, something akin to herding cats.

The trick has always been to align ever-shifting patterns of customer demand with far-flung ecosystems of miners, designers, suppliers, engineers, factory workers, truck drivers, sellers, and so forth. Yet the process of orchestrating such intricate value chains has often been based on art (hunches) more than science (data).

Today, however, the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the ongoing explosion in networked connectivity among people, process, data, and things — is transforming manufacturing in startling ways, just as it is changing so many other industries.

IoE delivers seamless, intelligent connections to every corner of the manufacturing value chain, optimizing the flow of products, information, and payments in real time.

The Cisco IoE Value Index study found that in 2013, manufacturing had the largest potential share of IoE Value at Stake, at $224 billion. Yet, it was poised to realize only 46 percent of that potential bottom-line value.  The key to closing that gap lies in much-improved machine-to-machine and machine-to-people connections, resulting in smart factories, smart grids, and connected supply chains, among many other IoE-related innovations.

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Attending The Automation Conference Should be an Automatic Decision

MFG TACWebHeader

Last week, I got a great response to a blog on ‘Making Smarter Manufacturing and IoT a Reality Today’, where I illustrated some use-case business scenarios and strategies to leverage the IoT industry trends now. One way savvy manufacturers, industrial companies and supply chain and operations teams stay current with evolving trends like IoT is to send their key players to industry educational and networking opportunities. One such opportunity to learn how to better leverage IoT for improved real-time decision support, amongst many other benefits, is coming up. The Automation Conference is a professional, educational event hosted by the editors of Automation World and Packaging World and is happening at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott from May 20th to 21st.

Cisco is proud to be one of the sponsors at this event, which is focused on delivering practical application advice and visionary insights for automation and control engineers, operations and engineering management, manufacturing systems/IT and networking professionals, as well as industrial systems engineers, machinery designers and software development professionals involved with discrete and process industries and production operations.  Many of these industry leaders are wrestling with not just how to leverage IoT, but also key manufacturing issues and opportunities around industrial cybersecurity in production operations, reducing costs, improving efficiences, building new business capabilities and revenue streams and addressing skills gaps.

I hope to see you in Chicago on May 21st.

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No matter how harsh is your work environment, Cisco has you covered

Cisco_IndustrialEthernetSwitches_2 27 14“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” – Popular US Postal Service motto

Many of my US colleagues have told me that they grew up hearing the phrase above and thinking how reliable their mail service is, even under the harshest conditions, they always got their mail. We in Cisco think that your network should be as reliable and resilient, and work under all conditions, particularly now when the Internet of Things (IoT) requires a level of resiliency at a scale never imagined before, and under conditions beyond what the traditional datacenter or wiring closet can offer.

These days, one of the challenges that the Internet of Things has to deal with is that it “…is already connecting the physical world today, but the real world, unlike the digital world, is much more uncertain and variable. We have to connect objects in unpredictable environments, often subject to Mother Nature or just the movement of our earth and its inhabitants…”

In fact Cisco defines the Internet of Things as “the intelligent connectivity of physical devices driving massive gains in efficiency, business growth and quality of life.”

In order to establish intelligent connectivity to physical devices, networking equipment have to be able to coexist in the same environmental in which the physical device are operating.

Very often, these physical devices are operating in harsh environments both from a temperature prospective (like in a smelting furnace or in a mining field located in Siberia), from a dustiness prospective (like in a cement production plant), from a vibrations prospective (like on a train or on a mining truck) etc.

To properly operate in these environments networking devices have to be specifically designed with highly ruggedized casing to protect the device’s internal components, and with specific connectors to avoid any possible water penetration or to get unplugged because of hard vibrations.

We’re excited to announce today an extension of our Industrial Ethernet portfolio adding a new series of IE2000 IP67 switches! Read More »

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The Internet of Everything for Manufacturers: ARC Industry Forum 2014 Highlights

In December, I blogged about Predictions 2014: Wager on the Internet of Everything (IoE) for the Manufacturing Industry.  In terms of thought and verbal capital, investments in IoE/IoT (Internet of Things) are proliferating from top of mind to tip of tongue across industry analysts, pundits, press and producers alike.  Just last week, I joined a record-setting attendance at the ARC Industry Forum 2014 in Orlando, where ARC President Andy Chatha opened the forum theme “Industry in Transition: Information Driven Enterprise in a Connected World” with a keynote focused on Planning for the Industrial Internet of Things. Just last week, I joined a record-setting attendance at the ARC Industry Forum 2014 in Orlando, where ARC President Andy Chatha opened the forum theme “Industry in Transition: Information Driven Enterprise in a Connected World” with a keynote focused on Planning for the Industrial Internet of Things.  Mark Houska of Control Engineering does a nice summary here of the keynote.

The hype frenzy surrounding IoE/IoT has forecasts for economic growth and value-add (EVA) in the trillions (e.g., Cisco estimates $14.4T for Private Sector EVA over the next 10 years plus another $5T for Public Sector), as Andy states: “But this isn’t just another futuristic fad.”  Whether it’s Cisco’s “Internet of Everything“, GE’s “Industrial Internet“, Rockwell Automation’s “IoT Industrial Revolution“, IBM’s “Smarter Planet” or the European “Industry 4.0″, a lot of significant companies are investing significantly.  Value propositions for Industrial IoT, as ARC articulates, are quickly advancing from compelling differentiators to must-have business capabilities and new business models.

ARC Value Proposition of IoE/IoT for Asset Owners

  • Improve Operating Performance -- reduce downtime with predictive maintenance/analytics, sharing contextual information internally and externally and collaborating with ecosystem partners to solve operational problems faster, better, cheaper. Cisco MFG Customer Example: Emirates Aluminum.
  • Lower Asset Lifecycle Costs -- remote monitoring, remote maintenance and service, remote upgrades and refresh (think firmware) all lower operating costs. Cisco MFG Customer Example: Anglo Platinum.
  • Build a Converged Platform for Innovation -- assets are no longer a product purchase, but a platform for services and innovation that--in real-time, contextual collaboration with suppliers--enable leaps in performance. Cisco MFG Customer Example: General Motors.

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Integration and Customization in Manufacturing: Some Exciting Trends

Recently I wrote about a few real life examples of IDC Manufacturing Insights 2014 Predictions: Worldwide Manufacturing and their Top 10 predictions in two parts.  They can be found: Part 1 and Part 2.  I wanted to continue with this and wrap up the discussions with some additional examples.   Hopefully, this helps illustrate what is already happening today to help you see some real life examples that are already taking place.

IDC wrote about Product Lifecycle Management or PLM. Traditionally, this is something that has always been a standalone solution and not one that is integrated into the full product design process.  We are seeing an integration of this silo (as I mentioned in my first post on this series) into the product design earlier.  Not only are we seeing this in the design process but also in the actual manufacturing workflow and shop floor design as well.  When a change is made in the product it is quicker then ever before to make a change to the recipe or the manufacturing process with a ‘one click’ push to the operational side of the company.

This helps a company react to the changes that the customers are asking for and also is an incredibly quick way to start to integrate into the ‘mass customization’ that customers are asking for in many consumer products.  Customers want to be able to have a product built for them and for their specifications.  I have seen this happen with my son’s soccer cleats even.  We are now able to order his shoes online with his number on them and they arrive within a week.  While that is as simple as just adding a silk screen it is a great first step in the evolution of customization.  Another example is what Motorola does with the Moto X where you can order the phone to your custom color and options and they will deliver it to you as requested (and for an incredibly low price!). Ultimately this can be done because ever process and every mechanism on the processing line can be tracked and changed on the fly.  At Hannover Messe 2014 we will be part of the Factory 4.0 demonstration that will highlight this integration and customization on the show floor, stop by and see this in action.

The last 2 predictions from IDC are around the future of where we are going and the fact that the investments will be on the factories of the future.  We are already seeing more focus on the shop floor than in the ‘carpeted areas’ where IT had normally lived in within the manufacturing environment then in the past.  With more visibility in the shop floor, companies are able to improve their operations and ultimately drive towards more effective operations.

This trend is apparent with the fact that all of our business partners in this space have started to implement IP and Ethernet in their products.  We have slowly seen this adoption improve over the past 5-7 years and in the past 2 years it is exploding with the implementation that is happening with our customers.  Check out the Industrial IP Advantage as an area to start your own education in this incredibly exciting market.  And, we are here to help you drive towards your operational excellence goals.  Thanks for reading.

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