About the Author: Scot recently joined Cisco and previously worked for Rockwell Automation for over 11 years as the Regional Marketing Leader for their Western US Architecture and Software business (Controllers, I/O, HMI, Networks, and Software).

It is well accepted that there is great potential in manufacturing with the Internet of Things – the challenge is realizing that potential and getting started on your journey. There is a huge amount of useful data trapped within plant floor equipment, which includes run-time, equipment condition, performance, and quality data. You need access to this data to make better business decisions in your plant.

If you can, you’ll be able to:

  • Improve machine/line availability
  • Improve performance and quality
  • Reduce downtime
  • Lower Costs, and improve profitability

But you cannot achieve these outcomes if you can’t view machine data in real time.


You need to access information you need quickly, filter it on the fly, and present actionable data from your facility to better understand your processes and identify areas for improvement. Clip-boards and spreadsheets be gone!

To unlock the data, your network backbone must be in place and it must be secure. Our connected plant wide Ethernet (CPwE) strategy, in partnership with Rockwell Automation, makes the IoT possible. In an existing facility, it’s overwhelming to think of replacing all your equipment or all of your controls with data-enabled hardware.

You should start thinking smaller, in results that can be achieved incrementally.

One starting point is to create and enforce a set of standards to ensure that any new machine and equipment brought into your facility is data-enabled. This will avoid new silos of inaccessible information, and allow you to gather data from new equipment. As many as 75% of US plants are more than 20 years old, so a lot of that equipment will be upgraded in the coming years. Any new equipment purchased is an opportunity to upgrade obsolete equipment to data-enabled machinery.

The CPwE is your road map to unlock the power of IoT. Use it as a guide to achieve a network standard in your facility and give to your machine suppliers and system integrators so they understand what is required for any new equipment brought into your facility or for any upgrades performed in your facility. Sticking to standards on any new equipment today will ensure you will have what you need tomorrow.

See how Daimler implemented a new network with no production interruption: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi_Y1zYnALg


Another opportunity involves using generic OPC servers to serve up data from existing machines. OPC is a widely accepted industrial communication standard to exchange data between devices and control applications without any proprietary restrictions. For example, on some PLC’s OPC server functionality is already available, without purchasing any additional software or equipment.

A survey of manufacturers shows that they expect to reduce unplanned downtime and defects by nearly 50%, and improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to world class levels of 85% or more from implementing a fully connected factory/IoT solution.

See how Fanuc works toward zero unplanned downtime

Cisco is a leader in networking technology and provides practical solutions proven to help our customers be more efficient and profitable by understanding their challenges. We are different because we deliver solutions all the way from the factory floor to the enterprise with our products, software, services, and partner relationships.

Reach out to your Cisco salesperson to have a strategy discussion regarding your short term and long term goals, and see how we can partner with you to help you  reach those goals.

Or reach out to me directly here:


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Scot Wlodarczak

No Longer with Cisco