During geek-fests like CiscoLive, it’s easy to become hypnotized by all the amazing technology. So many smart people are innovating in so many amazing ways. When the party’s over, though, we all need to get back to business. Not just CIO’s and CTO’s -- everyone in IT needs to focus on business outcomes -- now more than ever. Here’s why.
IT is under increasing pressure to innovate and help deliver business results, as evidenced by several new data points in our industry. Understanding these trends and next steps can help IT, business, and operations teams all work better together to deliver more value from technology.
Recently, the second of a two-part Manufacturing.net webcast series on ‘The Internet of Things ’ (IoT) wrapped with a deep dive on the very real business advantages and outcomes that are enabled when IoT is fully applied to Manufacturing operations. One of the speakers, David Gutshall, Infrastructure Design Manager at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, highlighted many advantages he’s experienced with deployments of the Converged Plant-wide Ethernet solution architecture from Cisco and Rockwell Automation. In the webcast, David talked about “greater manufacturing flexibility across the supply chain, where … we can collate data across the factory (and enterprise) … and have experienced a substantial reduction in downtime.” He described that with an IP-enabled Connected Factory, “what used to take hours or days to triage and troubleshoot problems now takes seconds.” Expanding on the topic, David said “when we bring a new machine online, it essentially works with the network out-of-the-box,” yielding greater flexibility and significantly reducing new model NPI (New Product Introduction) cycles and time to market.
Similar companies, like General Motors, have leveraged this industrial automation and controls system (IACS) architecture, which GM calls ‘Plant Floor Control Network’ (PFCN), to reduce downtime by as much as 75% and to drive out hundreds of $millions in plant engineering, operations and maintenance costs associated with factory expansions and modernizations. Both GM and Harley identify one of the biggest advantagesof a standardized yet flexible factory automation infrastructure is the acceleration of NPI offerings and advancement into new markets. Over the past decade, GM with partners has been able to gain a leading share of passenger vehicles produced in China, Brazil and other emerging markets. And as Harley rolls out their recently announced LiveWire electric motorcycle, I suspect that an integral part of their strategy includes the American manufacturing renaissance vision for a dynamic, fun, flexible factory of the future. Take a look at this inspirational video from Harley describing the modernization and transformation of their existing York Manufacturing Facility:
Cisco customers have asked me how the Internet of Everything and the Internet of Things are going to affect their everyday life. My answer: it can be mind-boggling how interconnected sensors and devices are going to impact our daily lives.
Specifically, in the industrial space, I get to work daily with our manufacturing and mining customers who want to understand best practices and deployments, and figure out how to implement various solutions to add value to their business. Some of this may be tracking adjacent or similar markets with the nuanced changes to apply to their particular situation.
For example, one customer I have been working with is in the process of integrating 4-5 completely different systems into one tool to do correlation events. In the past, one person had to have the intelligence to look at each of these disparate systems and then start to tie all of this together. The issue is with the fact is the single person who has this intelligence is the only one who knows what to do. This may have been job security for that individual, but the situation creates bottlenecks.
Maciej Kranz, VP and GM of Cisco’s Corporate Technology Group, shares his perspective on Dundee Precious Metals and the Internet of Everything
I’ve traveled a great deal around the globe in the last year and am amazed at the interesting things organizations are doing with technology to connect the unconnected. As we enter the next big phase of the Internet – the Internet of Everything (IoE) – no industry can afford to be left behind. Even the industries that existed long before the Internet was even a glimmer on the horizon, such as manufacturing and mining, can realize great value through IoE. Dundee Precious Metals (DPM) is one example. They’re a manufacturing company that has capitalized on the connections between the people, process, data and things that IoE is enabling, transforming one of the world’s most traditional industries in the process.
When DPM set a goal to increase production of their flagship mining operation by 30 percent, their IT team needed to find a way to reach the target without increasing manpower or the number of vehicles.
With the help of the connections from IoE, now Dundee can share important information in real time, such as miners’ locations, equipment updates and data such as the number of buckets filled. This lets their teams troubleshoot as they go, instead of just at the end of a shift, keeping crews better on track to meet daily goals. What’s more, miners and mine managers had limited communication options since their Wi-Fi didn’t function well underground. So they leveraged Cisco’s unified wireless network to provide coverage along 50 kilometers of tunnels. This let drivers, supervisors and managers communicate efficiently – above ground or below – with calls and instant messaging. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags placed on miners’ caps and vehicles keep everyone synced up with location tracking via a 3D map for improved worker safety. New collaboration capabilities extend to other DPM locations, making face-to-face collaboration possible between managers, geologists and metallurgists as they discuss production, development and project schedules. This all adds up to better understanding and decision-making across the board.
So what have these changes meant for DPM?
Production increased by 400 percent, far exceeding their original 30 percent goal.
Miner safety has improved as they track miners’ movements and know where everyone is at all times.
Asset utilization of vehicles has also improved via continually transmitted data identifying repair needs.
Communication and energy costs have been lowered through more efficient use of resources.
This is just the start of DPM leveraging IoE’s capabilities. The company plans to replicate the same systems in all of its mines, as well as extend the Internet of Everything concept to health monitoring of employees, using connected environmental health sensors.
The Internet of Everything is not just the technology of tomorrow. It is here today, and the networked connections it provides can impact all industries, even those industries with roots from long ago.
Sooner or later we all feel like throwing up our hands and cursing the complexity of modern life. But while technology may seem the chief culprit in making things unmanageable, it is also the ultimate solution to complexity.
In the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, it is particularly important for business leaders to understand the power of technology to simplify our lives and support informed decision making. And this was a core theme at Sapphire Now 2014, an event in Orlando, Fla., that I was privileged to attend last week.
By using network technology to integrate people, process, data, and things, IoE counters complexity in unprecedented ways. In a city, this can involve something as simple as cutting the time it takes to find a (connected) parking space. Or IoE technologies can scale up to reroute traffic lights; for example, to head-off highway backups before, during, and after a large event.
In a brick-and-mortar retail setting (a key area of discussion at Sapphire Now), IoE can alleviate the complexity of managing customers, staffing, and products. With data from multiple sources comes heightened, real-time awareness, empowering managers to react faster than ever. For example, they can then stock shelves and reorganize staff in response to constantly changing levels of demand. With predictive analytics they can even respond before a customer rush begins.
The idea of hyper-aware, real-time decision-making resonated during a Sapphire Now panel discussion titled Thrive in the Digital Networks of the New Economy. I was honored to share the panel with such luminaries as Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT; Michael Chui of McKinsey Global Institute; and Jai Shekhawat, Deepak Krishnamurthy, and Vivek Bapat of SAP. And there was much discussion on the impact of bad decisions on failed organizations. Which is why we all take such an interest in technology that enables good ones.