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RFID: Context Aware and Location – a Brief History & Introduction

My distant relative - Flight Lieutenant KJP Granger (Royal Air Force) and his DH82A Gipsy Moth - did the forerunner of RFID save him from being shot down?

Some of the best technological advances are made during times of conflict. Sad that it should be so, but the silver lining is that many of the advances are focused on defending, protecting and shielding people. Active RFID, the kind of solution provided by Cisco and AeroScout, in many ways started out that way.

Looking back decades to WWII, radar was already being developed in ernest by the British in the run-up to the second world war. Many countries were developing radar at that time, but most folks agree that Robert Watson Watt, later Sir Robert, was the prime mover-and-shaker.  It took US marketing (in the form of the US Navy) to coin the term RADAR, for radio detection and ranging.

So where does Context Aware Location RFID come in? Well, whilst radar itself was useful, the  British needed to know whether those planes coming over the English Channel were returning Spitfires and allied bombers, or attacking Luftwaffe aircraft. It was the same Watson-Watt that helped produce the ‘Identification friend or foe’ (IFF) system that  used a transponder on the allied aircraft that was ‘excited’ by the radar system and actively sent back a signal to the base saying friend. My own cousin, Flight Lieutenant KJP Granger, Officer Trainer RAF, was grateful for that!

Now fast forward decades to today. The technology for today’s RFID is a little different, but the concept is the same. So let’s keep the aeronautical theme going and talk about Boeing and its use of RFID.      Read More »

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Why do I need a password in a factory?

So, I got locked out of my Cisco “everything” account recently. At first I thought it was just my home router acting up, but after a couple days I called IT for help, and they asked me to reset my router, and my modem, and then when that was done they informed me that maybe my password had expired.

Long way of getting to the story. I hate when my password expires. We have pretty stringent rules about passwords here at Cisco. I appreciate that. I just don’t want to change my password. You see I have (guessing) at least 20 sites that I use, all have different password requirements. Some have unique requirements for User Names too.

So I have figured out that from now on, the day that I change my company password I am changing all of my other account passwords too. At least within Cisco they synchronize all of the passwords. But I still have all my individual accounts, and I’m quite sure they sit there and watch, here comes that idiot, requesting a new password. Why can’t these people remember their password, they likely wonder while they smirk.

To some degree it is a matter of how often you go to the website, I suppose. Read More »

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Collaboration: with MACS from Cisco it’s as if you’re really there!

We hear a lot about Collaboration and Innovation these days.  People try to define what each word means, and how they relate to each other. Probably the best source I’ve found so far is in a great blog by Carlos Domingez that addresses just that. Carlos is one of Cisco’s senior thought leaders, so check out his blog here: Collaboration: What Does it really mean? It’s a fascinating read, especially the references to  Evan Rosen and Mark Granovetter. It’s also a great segway to the Manufacturing Active Collaboration Space Solution that I talk about in the video below:

Peter Granger talks about Cisco’s Manufacturing Active Collaboration Solution and how it can help with innovation and product development. GE calls their version Virtual Collaboration Space.

As you can hear in my video, the truth of the matter is that Collaboration and Innovation go hand-in-hand simply because when people get together they feed off one another, adding to each others ideas and seeing opportunities from different angles. They solve each others issues and talk through problems using words,  images and video. When you click ‘read more’ you’ll hear more about GE’s use of MACS in a short video featuring senior GE and Cisco figures. I’ll also solve the riddle I set for you in an earlier blog about how to make a new square out of four matches! Read More »

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Santa’s Supply Chain – Get Something NEW and EXCITING!

I was thinking about all the supply chain agility issues Santa would have this year – probably the same every year. Like the fact that he has to deliver to hundreds of millions of folks on one particular day of the year.

He’s been doing this for hundreds of years with only one workshop – not located anywhere near any major distribution routes and with a small but obviously highly productive workforce. Add to this his orders come in only a few weeks before 25th December – some on the 24th! And somehow he hasn’t any carry over stock on the 26th. Miss the 25th and you’ve had it!

Downside of this squeeze is that you can often get that same ol’ pair of socks, that boring polyester tie or that colorful sweater that you’ll never wear. Maybe even a lump of coal if you’re really unlucky. So here’s a message to  Santa… Read More »

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GE Innovation – Thinking Outside of the Box (or Should that be ‘Square’?)

As I’m focusing more on Collaboration and Innovation and less on Supply Chain these days, I thought I’d share a story of ‘Ideation with you for my opening blog.  That’s because it’s usually one of the first steps in the product development lifecycle, and makes chronological sense when discussing innovation. In later blogs I’ll share some of the subsequent steps – you know: Selection, Prototyping, Validation, Development and finally, Launch. Different companies use different terms and different processes, but all good products start out with a good idea.

Let me take you back in time for a moment. When I was eight years old I noticed that the local UK comic magazine that I bought on a weekly basis was running competitions for readers to submit puzzles for other readers to solve. I was attracted to the Secret Service game that was one of the prize options, but what was my idea? How was I going to win if I didn’t have a good idea? Well, I decided that I’d submit a match puzzle – you know we actually had lots of matches in the 60’s! This puzzle isn’t hard (please remember I was eight years old) and looked something like the picture above. The question was “How do you make a square by adding just one more match and not moving the others?”

Anyway, fairly obvious that you make a square by placing a forth match adjoining the other three to make a square with the bases as in the next picture (click ‘read more’ when finished with this page to see how). Well, I had the pride of seeing my puzzle published and, more importantly for me, I actually won the Secret Service game! But that’s not the point… Read More »

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