Many manufacturers operate at high volumes, and unplanned production downtime is costly. One leading auto manufacturer estimates unplanned downtime in a factory can cost them as much as $20,000 per minute. Often these line down situations are the result of production machine failures that could be avoided if data from the machine was available to anticipate the failure so a planned repair could take place in a standard maintenance window. I’ve traveled the world recently and visited with the world’s leading manufacturers across many sectors. What I have seen is that almost all of them are focused on reducing unplanned downtime with predictive maintenance.

This issue is also driving plant floor machine builders and their manufacturing customer to prioritize their digitization and IoT efforts to connect machines to enable real time access to new types of structured and unstructured data from production processes. This is a recurring theme reiterated in a recent survey by SCM World and Cisco. We asked plant managers and business line executives what “things” they were connecting now and in the years ahead. Production equipment was listed as a top priority, with 62 percent planning to connect these resources by 2020.

SCM slide CM blog

Machine Builder OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are facing new business imperatives, as well, to grow services business and customer intimacy. As their manufacturing customers demand the highest possible availability, quality and uptime, OEMs are striving to become more agile and proactive. They’re looking for solutions to enable zero-touch deployment and provisioning. They’re exploring ways to control support costs with remote connectivity and monitoring. They’re also taking more control of the aftermarket for parts and tools. Connectivity and remote access are essential capabilities to enable new predictive maintenance and machine-as-a-service (MaaS) business models.

By some estimates there are more than 60 million machines in factories throughout the world and 92% are not network-connected.1 So the task is enormous and only achievable with a simple, secure and scalable solution from a company that can deliver it globally.   Machine Builders and their manufacturing customers are engaging Cisco to securely connect these machines by embedding Cisco switching, security and compute technologies directly in the machine itself – or in a factory-floor aggregation device. In this week’s Cisco’s Digital Solutions for Industries announcement at the Global Editor’s Conference, we launched Cisco Connected Machines as a full solution addressing this need. This “edge compute” approach lowers costs for secure machine data collection for predictive maintenance and can also optimize available network resources and bandwidth by analyzing big data on the plant floor prior to transmitting to a data center or cloud-based data store for further analysis.

FANUC, a world-leading CNC systems and industrial robot company that supplies machines to manufacturers, uses big data analytics to identify maintenance procedures that can prevent breakdowns before they occur. With the FANUC market leading ZDT or Zero Downtime solution, the robot is connected through a Cisco network and then into a Cisco edge compute data collector in the plant to access new robot operational data.

The data relevant for optimizing maintenance is securely transmitted to the Cisco Cloud where the FANUC’s analytics captures the “out of range” exceptions and predicts the maintenance need. Then, an alert is sent from the cloud application to FANUC service personnel and to the manufacturing customer about the need for service.  Needed parts can then shipped to arrive at the factory in time for the next scheduled planned maintenance window.   Rick Schneider, CEO for FANUC America says the potential for this solution across all their implementations could add profound value for customers and help enable the IoT Digital Transformation that many manufacturers have long anticipated. “Preventing unplanned downtime is a huge savings for our customers and makes the FANUC robots with ZDT a tremendous value.   With Cisco, we are helping our customers access this new value and also re-imagining our go-to-market strategy for after-sales service and support.”

Manufacturers in the SCM World survey project 48% reduction in unplanned downtime from these kinds of solutions. FANUC is proving much higher reduction to almost eliminate unplanned downtime. What could your plants achieve in terms of higher output and margin if you could eliminate unplanned downtime? Read the full white paper on the Connected Machines solution to find out more and let me know any comments below. Thanks for reading.



Bryan Tantzen

Senior Director

Manufacturing Solutions