Last week, I joined my colleagues from Rockwell Automation and Panduit at the Industrial IP Advantage (IIPA) booth at Automation Fair in Anaheim.  This is the largest gathering of Rockwell Automation users where IIPA can do outreach directly to the community of controls engineers, automation managers and industrial IT professionals.

Since IIPA has a vision of putting forth an educational community where best practices, successes and failures can be shared and learned from, I was definitely struck that training will continue to be pivotal.   As we work together on thought leadership and the promotion of standard, unmodified Ethernet and Internet Protocol, together with the leading open industrial Ethernet standard, EtherNet/IP™,  skill sets need to grow to keep up with the market.

Training is Definitely a Hot Button

The workforce shortage issue for industrial markets is real.  Discussing and explaining the training and certification offerings from Cisco and IIPA resonated with the attendees.  The IIPA e-learning beta launch got great initial reviews.  Customers are looking for a portable and scalable learning option to complement the instructor lead Industrial CCNA offering.  Attendees were happy that Cisco and Rockwell Automation were investing in the various IT-OT training initiatives. Take a look at this video that summarizes this:

Business Outcomes are Key

Another thing that struck me this year was the theme of my conversations at this show matured from a technical discussion about why, what and how to deploy a Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture to what’s possible with a full Connected Factory.  So, the bits/bytes, speeds and feeds around product functionality, for example PoE, NAT, 802.11ad functionality and support, although still important were replaced with business outcome conversations.  For example, “I have a mandate around energy sustainability in my plant.  How can I leverage a wireless mesh deployment to lower my energy and resource consumption costs”  or…. “I have 6 months to provision 5 new packaging lines in my plant with 5 machine cells per line, and over 8 automation vendors to manage.  Can your solution provide a scalable path to cost and efficiency improvements.”   What are your thoughts on this and what manufacturing challenges is your company facing?  Thanks for reading.


Kevin Davenport

Cisco’s Global Solutions Manager

Industrial Intelligence