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Tracking Assets: RFID Meets Industrial Wi-Fi – Industrial Ethernet Book Part 1

October 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm PST

I had the pleasure of meeting up with both Leo Ploner, Publishing Director, Industrial Ethernet Book (IEB) and Tom McNulty from the Chicago, US office recently here in Silicon Valley recently. I was pleased to see that Cisco had contributed to an article in the 65 / 35 Issue of the Industrial Ethernet Book around the topic of RFID and industrial WiFi – a topic close to my own heart in terms of previous blogs of mine (Intro to RFID, Continental Tire, Boeing, and John Deere).

The first Industrial Ethernet Book was published in 1999.  Since then it become an excellent  information source for industrial networking and communication technology, and aims to provide unbiased editorial views focused on both process and discrete manufacturing industries. The editorial content is aimed at end users, system integrators and vendors within factory automation and process automation.

The article starts with the recognition that “Increasingly ‘smart’ devices, which include radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and sensors that have advanced diagnostics, are contributing to the billions of devices now connected to IP networks. This proliferation of smart devices is referred to by some as the ‘Internet of Things’, and it is projected to grow to trillions of devices that will be connected using the emerging IPv6 protocol (ref1). For manufacturers, a growing number of connected smart devices promises to revolutionise portability, mobility, context-aware condition and use of critical assets.” Read More »

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The Right Network Can Help You Build for the Future

A network built with next-generation technologies helps you stay competitive, save money

Whether you’re building a new network or upgrading your existing one, are you giving any thought to your future needs? A secure, reliable network is a business necessity—not a nice-to-have. If you’re building the right network for your business, your network will not only meet your current requirements but will also accommodate your company’s future needs.

A network that’s built with the future in mind can meet changing demands, such as expanding to new locations, supporting mobile workers, addressing new security threats, and an increasing number of devices. The right network will also support future technologies such as cloud, virtualization, and bandwidth-intensive applications such as video and voice.

The benefits of building a network that can grow with your business are many. For example, building a network with next-generation technologies allows you to focus on your business and can help your company stay competitive, allowing you to better engage with customers and partners. In addition, building your network for the future provides investment protection, helping your company save money over time. Keep in mind: Even though a network built with low-cost point products may provide short-term cost savings, it could end up costing your company 20-35 percent more over a three-year period.

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Networking and Cloud – Driving Change

I was given the opportunity at Interop NY last week to give a 10-15min presentation at the Cisco booth. If you were watching the twitter stream, you probably noticed the pictures of some of the full audiences we had throughout both days in the booth.

I spoke about cloud and networking, something that both Brian Gracely and James Urquhart blogged about recently. Read on for my slides and some narrative comments. I apologize ahead of time for not embedding the slides, but unfortunately that little feature doesn’t seem to be working currently. We’ve got a white paper on the same topic as well as a webcast series that Brian Gracely has been blogging about.

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Interop NY – From the Expo Floor

I was given the opportunity to walk around the expo floor at Interop NY 2011 today before I spent some time working in the booth, speaking with customers, and presenting in our theater on the show floor. There were many good conversations around the value proposition of UCS, the magic of service profiles (UCS Manager) to drive automation into server management and reduce operator time spent on tedious configuration chores, the new Nexus 7009, and Cisco’s Virtualized Multi-Tenant Data Center (VMDC) solution design for private and service provider clouds.

Here’s a quick video showing the booth very busy right after the 10:30AM opening of the show floor and a couple of interviews with attendees and bloggers Matthew Norwood (@matthewnorwood) and Andrew von Nagy (@revolutionwifi) about what they are looking for at Interop.

Follow along on twitter @ciscoDC and on the Cisco Data Center blog for updates from both Interop NY and Oracle OpenWorld from San Francisco. For details on sessions and demos, check out the Interop New York 2011 Cisco event page.

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John Deere avoids cost with Cisco Wireless Architecture

September 29, 2011 at 11:40 am PST

Maybe you’ve seen the recent article in RFID Journal: John Deere Planter Factory Gains Efficiency.

John Deere, working with integration and technology partners Prime Technologies (now Kubica) and AeroScout, used the existing Cisco Wi-Fi networking nodes that it had already installed throughout the facility to avoid the expense of installing RFID readers for a new manufacturing solution.

John Deere MaxEmergeXP

Here’s the story: John Deere’s  Seeding Group factory in Moline, Ill. was seeking an automated solution to improve on its manual work in process manufacturing system.  It wanted to increase efficiency in the way it replenished welding material as well as improve the way it carried out processes at its assembly stations at the plant. The factory in question assembles John Deere’s  row-crop planter machines -- the MaxEmerge XP range -  that are used by farmers to deposit a variety of seed in soils and seedbeds.

The new system uses a wireless back-haul to a Cisco infrastructure that enables the SAP, reporting and programmable logic controller (PLC) systems to communicate live.  It’s intended to improve material replenishment and reduce delays caused by waiting for materials in its welding areas.  It allows the equipment manufacturer’s kitting staff to boost material replenishment speed, and allows assembly workers to prepare for specific equipment as it approaches their assembly stations. The RFID Journal Story goes into excellent detail on the wip process and the process improvement, but I did want to reiterate some of the key business metrics:

“Our goal was to improve Takt time *,” says Shay O’Neal, John Deere Seeding Group’s project manager, who expects the reduction to increase from what he estimates may be about 5 percent improvement in Takt time thus far. He reckons there has been a 40 percent reduction in cycle time because of the improvement in replenishment. He has also seen a decrease in overtime work undertaken by kitting staff at the welding station. “I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the system met our needs,” O’Neal said in the RFID Journal article.

  • John Deere has seen a 40 percent increase in efficiency in welding due to improvements in material replenishment and fewer delays caused by waiting for materials in its welding areas.
  • On the assembly line, the system provides a view into the work in process (WIP), which thus far has reduced the cycle time (Takt) it takes to assemble a single product by about 5 percent.
  • Since existing Cisco Wi-Fi nodes read the RFID tag of each seeder as it passes from one assembly station to another, indicating where it has been and what its next assembly location will be, John Deere avoided the expense of installing RFID readers.

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