Static manufacturing operations are going obsolete. Plant managers had to quickly pivot to dynamic operations in the wake of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and “roaring demand.” Lately I’ve been hearing from more and more manufacturers interested in smart manufacturing technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), robotics, cloud computing, supply chain technologies, and the industrial internet of things (IIoT).

Smart manufacturing (aka digital transformation, Industry 4.0 or Connected Enterprise) is a journey. To succeed you need the right technology—and also the right processes and workforce skills. Cisco and our long-time partner Rockwell Automation are working to bring you all three. Our partnership combines Rockwell’s global leadership in industrial automation and digital transformation with Cisco’s global leadership in industrial networking and security. By joining forces we’re helping manufacturers become more agile, minimize risk, and optimize production yield.

Technology—a blueprint for digitizing industrial operations

Our latest joint effort is a blueprint for building a plantwide ethernet network. It’s challenging. For example, you probably have equipment from multiple vendors using proprietary protocols. Your network will need to scale to connect many more industrial sensors and IoT devices over the next few years. Cybersecurity is crucial for business continuity—a fact driven home by recent cyberattacks on food producers and energy, water, and wastewater utilities.

To take the trial and error out of building secure, reliable, and scalable industrial networks, Cisco and Rockwell Automation have jointly developed an industrial network blueprint. Called Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE), it combines solutions from Rockwell Automation (e.g., Allen-Bradley Stratix) and Cisco (e.g., Cisco Industrial Ethernet Switches). CPwE meets OT needs, IT needs—and makes sure that all solution components work well together.

Major manufacturers around the world are already using CPwE to improve key performance indicators—reducing total cost of ownership (TCO), decreasing downtime, increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), improving asset optimization, and simplifying inventory management. CPwE also gives you the foundation for digital transformation at scale. Examples include high-value, after-sale digital services, condition-based monitoring, and predictive maintenance.

Rockwell and Cisco also collaborate on industrial cybersecurity. For example, Rockwell has added Cisco Cyber Vision to its visibility and threat detection portfolio. Cyber Vision gives you full visibility into your industrial automation and control systems (IACS)—taking a complete asset inventory, identifying device vulnerabilities, tracking critical events, and detecting abnormal behaviors and threats. For more, check out these short articles from Cisco and Rockwell.

People—developing skills in short supply

To benefit from modern manufacturing technologies, you need people who know how to put them to work. Rockwell Automation and Cisco are helping to address the manufacturing skills shortage. We and other companies are working with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to build the Connected Systems Institute (CSI). State-of-the-art facilities include a simulated factory where your employees can gain hands-on experience with smart manufacturing technologies. We’ll be sharing additional details about this success story very soon!

Join us at Rockwell Automation Fair 2021, booth 1533

I invite you to join us at Rockwell Automation Fair 2021, happening November 10-11, 2021. Click here to register to attend in person (Houston) or online. Highlights:

  • Check out our “Unite your Edge” routing portfolio, designed for oil and gas, water and wastewater, and mining applications.
  • Talk to our experts in industrial networking and cybersecurity about your goals and challenges.
  • Hear Cisco speakers share the latest on cybersecurity, sustainable manufacturing, the zero-trust model, software-defined networks, and more bandwidth.
  • Join us at the Executive Hospitality event hosted by Rockwell Automation, Microsoft, and Cisco. If you see me, please introduce yourself!

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Ram Srinivasan

Global Partner Executive

Global Partner Org