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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Supply chain technology investment will involve modernizing existing systems while also trying new approaches, many systems already exist, but the issue is that they are in a ‘silo’ versus the other systems and it is difficult to talk across the systems. If you have multiple vendors on multiple platforms, it is difficult to get to the information but then also make sense of this information. In fact, most of our customers use different systems within their environment so even within a first level silo (company A) it is difficult to start to see what information exists let alone start to analyze this information. When you start to get to a second level silo (company A to company B information flows) you are now looking at silos within silos trying to talk with other silos.
I do not see these systems being ‘ripped and replaced’ but augmented with a layer above them to then start to build visibility and correlation across the systems which can then be tracked across companies to add visibility. We have been working with one of our business partners, HCL, to build a cloud offering where we are able to quickly install a platform, extract data from your existing systems and start to add value to you multiple locations operations and diverse portfolio.
The fifth IDC prediction was around the modernization of the B2B Commerce Backbone. I have seen this happening with many of our customers and business partners where they are using the information they have already on hand and start to use it in new ways. Look at this article on Amazon and anticipatory shopping. By taking the data that they have and mining this information is going to change how and what we order.
We are seeing this same use of analytics from the manufacturing market, not to predict what you are going to order, but when something may fail. Taking the data and tracking the sensor information, now much easier to access and track with new products and offerings, and driving this into an analytics engine. Using analytics, the ‘normal ranges’ are known and can be applied when the sensors are seeing any abnormalities occur. This helps to then understand what is happening and where it is happening and then start to understand where items may fail.
A few of our customers are taking this information from their customers and aggregating all of this information from different locations, adding sensors from the environment and then taking this information to drive the predictions back to their customers. Interestingly, some of our customers and partners see this as a service offering to allow better information and comparisons to stop failures and drive towards the 99.999% uptime that every company would like to have.
How are you wrestling with modernizing or revamping your supply chain? Are you adopting analytics in your sales or manufacturing processes? Let us know. Thanks for reading!