HMI 2019: Connecting the Dots


April 24, 2019 - 0 Comments

While at Hannover Messe 2019 a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by how much the event has changed since nine years ago. Back then, the halls were dominated by components and controls. It was about five years ago that Industry 4.0 emerged, with many dismissing it as some combination of hype and pipe dream. This year, however, it was crystal clear that manufacturers and their vendors are gearing up to make Industry 4.0 real. Companies are ready and willing—but not always able—to capture and analyze new operational data to create new revenue streams, efficiencies, and increase profits.

Walking the halls at HMI, it seemed nearly every exhibitor was focused on the quest for Industry 4.0. I saw countless diagrams depicting a company’s robot or sensor with a “dotted line” to the cloud. In every case, that line symbolizes how those vast quantities of data are actually moved from the factory to the cloud. As those vendors were quick to acknowledge to their customers, “That’s the network, and you can use whatever network you want.”

Trouble is, I heard over and over from attendees that their organizations have executed successful tests and pilots of Industry 4.0 solutions, but then they get stuck as they attempt to take their science project and deploy it across 20 factories. In virtually every case, they are running headfirst into network security, scalability, and complexity challenges.

To put it more bluntly, the dot-dot-dot lines that look elegant on marketing diagrams aren’t so simple in the real world!

No one knows that better than Cisco. We’ve long been the plumbers of the Internet, and now we’re becoming the plumbers to securely connect Industry 4.0. As my colleague, Paul Didier, explained in his well-attended session at Hannover, we understand network scalability, complexity and security challenges—and already know how to solve for them.  This need in the market to have a future proof and secure enabling foundation for Industry 4.0 is what has propelled Cisco to #1 market share in Industrial networking this year.

Here is what we reiterated in countless conversations at the event: For manufacturers, we serve as the bridge between IT and OT. How? By harmonizing proprietary network protocols. Tying OT networks in to enterprise IT networks for faster deployment and simpler maintenance. And we are building a foundation now to help companies embrace Time-Sensitive Networking in the near term and 5G capabilities as the technology develops.

It was incredibly energizing to help spread those messages at HMI. It’s going to be even more exciting to go back to Germany in 2020 and celebrate the progress we’ll achieve—together—over the next 12 months.

 


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