At Automation Fair this week, we are announcing major enhancements to our Cisco Connected Factory solution with new wireless and mobility capabilities. This solution, called Factory Wireless, builds on the joint Cisco/Rockwell Automation architecture, known as Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE), as well as Cisco’s networking expertise with wireless and wired technologies and creates new flexible communication opportunities between things, machines, databases, and people throughout the plant.
Interestingly, many manufacturers have been reticent to adopt wireless broadly in their production floor or have been reticent to understand the many exciting use cases that are possible with wireless. Despite this, the growth will still be steady, as analyst firm IHS predicts, “wireless network connections in industrial automation components in global factories will rise from 2.4 million in 2014 to 3.4 million by 2017.”
Savvy industrial companies who implement a new validated factory wireless infrastructure find that it is the key foundation for many use cases such as asset tracking to mobile visibility of automation controls and HMIs to wirelessly connecting plant floor equipment. In fact, we are seeing the demand for wireless in factories explode due to the potential to cut cabling costs by 95% and speed decision making by 80%. One customer saw a 7% output boost as well by applying wireless to the production process.
Here are some of the most compelling use cases that automotive, process, discrete, consumer packaged goods and other types of manufacturers where wireless can truly be a game-changer:
- RFID asset tags for wireless tracking of critical production tools resulting in significant productivity gains.
- Quality control and assembly line monitoring reducing warranty returns and improving labor utilization such as the gains in the Reynosa, Mexico factory of Stanley Black and Decker.
- Remote monitoring and real-time visibility of production line equipment for faster response time and better decision-making
- Mobile video HD cameras for trouble-shooting and collaboration which means significant downtime reduction and faster new product introductions. Check out the Sub-Zero/Wolf example.
- Assembly line changeovers or reconfigurations (typical in automotive for example)—with wireless, the plant can be more flexible and adapt faster to new product lines or model changes.
Our design guides bring together wireless best practice designs, and tested and validated architectures integrating both IT and OT perspectives. In addition, Cisco provides support for both unified or autonomous mode.The biggest problem I have seen is when customers fall into the trap of deploying multiple ad hoc wireless networks that ends up causing interference that reduces the effectiveness of those networks. We can help you deploy a unified plant-wide wireless environment across IT and OT use cases where you can manage and secure end to end – increasing reliability and lowering cost. Watch for future blogs on tips and considerations as you plan your wireless deployment.
What do you see as your killer use case for industrial wireless in your factory? Let us know and visit here for more information. Thanks for reading.