Converging on Convergence
What does Convergence mean to you? I recently did a search on the term “convergence” and found that it can relate to many technical, societal, political, and economic terms. All of them are correct, it just depends on the context.
I am going to be focusing on “convergence” as it applies to a Machine Builder that builds a machine that gets integrated into a manufacturing operation. You understand that, right? The final product gets bought and we all get paid.
So lets back up, just a bit. Machine Builder applies to those that build specific purpose machines that fit into a manufacturing operation. There may be decorating machines, metal forming machines, painting machines, wrapping machines, transfer machines, all sorts of machines. All of them tie together in some manner and form a production operation.
Every one of those machines may operate internally (so, within that specific machine) via its own network. I mean pieces talk to other pieces, right? But every one of those machines needs to integrate into the production operations at some point. And if the machine needs a gateway to talk to the line, that is an extra piece to maintain and more cost.
Ethernet/IP provides a standard way to tie machines together. The beauty of open standard Ethernet/IP is that the controls world can talk to the IT world and find peace. There is potentially a huge divide between IT and the plant, let alone the individual machine builder. Each wants to control. But to be successful in this new Global economy where buyers change sources for a penny (or a yuan) IT and the Plant need to work together. Machine Builders, pay heed! You need a seat at the table too!
This is called collaboration. Working together to build on the combined strengths.This is Cisco, for sure, with its partners.
You, as a Manufacturer need machines to build with, but need information to know what to build, and IT has the information from customers and suppliers to know supply and demand. Convergence of the networks assists in that active collaboration.
Do you want to remain profitable in the next few years? Converge!