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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.

Read More »

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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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More Reactions to IDC’s 2014 Manufacturing Predictions- Supply Chains and B2B Commerce

Recently I wrote about a few real life examples of IDC Manufacturing Insights 2014 Predictions: Worldwide Manufacturing and their Top 10 predictions. I wanted to continue with some more examples to illustrate what is happening now and hopefully help you see some real life examples that are already taking place.

To follow up with IDC’s Prediction #4

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!

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IoE and KFC - The Possibilities are Endless

Well, 2013 was a whirlwind and the first month of 2014 has flown by with hypersonic speed.  We are definitely living in very unique and interesting times.  As I reflect on the past year, one obvious theme or revelation always comes to the forefront.....technology and the use of it is the common fabric that enables change in our lives, whether its social, economic or environmental. The use of or the abuse of technology has always been the underpinning foundation for change.

The beginning of the New Year is always interesting and fun for me.  I'm always intrigued, fascinated and often times amused by the pundits, prognosticators, "experts", fortune tellers and the like who have never been shy about offering their viewpoints and perspectives on the trends and movements of the coming year.

Predictions:  Do You Hunker or Bunker Down?

In fact a very interesting....amusing story came out during the end of last year about a gentleman named Norman Feller, kfc3who went into a bunker for 14 years over the fears of the fallout from the Y2K virus.  Mr. Feller emerged from his bunker absolutely sober and of sound mind. In fact, Mr. Feller had the wherewithal to visit his local KFC restaurant and be absolutely amazed by the innovation of KFC's "Double-Down" sandwich. The combination of putting together bacon, cheese and chicken fillets was earth..."bunker" shattering for Mr. Feller .  Now, I'm not sure if this story is actually folklore or true, but I do know that people and societies have various emotional responses to technology trends, predictions and/or "hype"

2014 Manufacturing Trends and Predictions

Manufacturing is no exception.  There are no shortage of predictions and trends being applied to the manufacturing industry.  One of the common technology trends being cited is the Internet of Everything's impact on the industry. My colleague Chet Namboodri wrote an outstanding blog entitled, "Predictions 2014: Wager on the Internet of Everything"   He leverages the expertise and research from Bob Parker,  IDC Group Vice- President, to provide insights and predictions on how IoE will have a profound impact on manufacturing markets and industries.

I think we can all agree that we are living in amazing times with wonderful possibilities.  The world is "smaller" and more connected.  The changes we promote and execute against will affect not only our next-door neighbor, but our trans-continental neighbors.

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