Since manufacturers around the globe constantly have to adapt to ever shifting market conditions, any technology that lends a competitive advantage can be a game changer. Implementing wireless on the factory floor can be just that. And our announcement with Rockwell Automation this week at Automation Fair, will make this a no-brainer. The announcement covered enhancements to our joint architecture with Rockwell Automation called the Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE). The Cisco branded version, called Connected Factory, is a portfolio of validated, proven architectures, capabilities and market-leading technologies and services for industrial markets. Factory Wireless is the latest solution offering in this portfolio and delivers unified wireless for industrial applications.
In many factory floors today, ad hoc wireless networks are the norm. In many cases, deploying wireless on an application-by-application basis has created interference that has blocked wireless reliability for plant floor applications (keeping wireless from working for many IT or OT applications). The lack of mobile visibility to production bottlenecks and difficulties in rewiring to move equipment on the plant floor have resulted in downtime issues, increased costs and lost productivity.
Wireless can be a game changer for any factory, since it is a key foundation necessary to enable more flexibility and adaptability for remote monitoring, assembly line changeovers (critical for new product rollouts or changes), and quality or supply chain initiatives and work-in-process tracking just to name a few use cases. And the cost savings can be significant. In fact, according to Control Engineering, “Wireless (in the factory) can be up to 10 times less expensive than cable, with more flexibility, mobile benefits, and reduced maintenance and troubleshooting.”
Manufacturers are aware of these compelling use cases and in many instances imagine much more, but may express hesitation due to past deployment headaches. Perhaps they are worried about security, or have limited experience in wireless; maybe they’ve experimented in the past and had significant downtime. The benefit for them is that Factory Wireless can now converge their plant floor network from ad hoc wireless to one unified wireless network.
Implementing a unified, easy-to-manage and secure plant wireless infrastructure provides more flexibility and offers the trusted reliability and performance required for mission-critical plant floor applications (like wireless tool tracking for example). With this new Factory Wireless solution, manufacturers can enjoy these additional business outcomes:
• Improved decision-making and maximum uptime due to new flexible communications that are now possible between machines and people located throughout the plant.
• A world-class platform for additional industrial global applications ranging from WIFI asset tags to increase output and productivity by finding production assets and inventory faster to using mobile HD video cameras for troubleshooting and collaboration.
• Cisco’s industry leading wireless capabilities on the factory floor for IT and OT applications with reliability, security and manageability for plant environments.
Take a closer look at Factory Wireless. In addition, we are offering a Starter kit, with a pre-packaged set of equipment and services that provides an easy and fast onramp for factories. With all this, I think you’ll agree that the time to deploy wireless in the factory is now. Thanks for reading.