A jam-packed media briefing room in Tokyo was the site of a big announcement this week. FANUC, the world’s leading maker of industrial robots, announced a collaborative effort with Cisco, Rockwell Automation, and Preferred Networks (PFN) to jointly develop and deploy the FANUC Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (FIELD) system. This collaboration represents a historic shift in the industry as IoT, industrial automation, and machine learning are making the factory of the future a reality. It’s been talked about for years, but now it’s really happening.


The FIELD platform delivers analytics that optimize manufacturing production by connecting to Computer Numerical Control machines (CNCs), robots, peripheral devices, and sensors.

The companies are working together to implement systems for major automotive manufacturers. Customers currently using this system are experiencing a decrease in production downtime and increased cost savings.

The media was invited to the remote headquarters near Mount Fuji to experience a demonstration of FIELD after the press conference.


The events garnered excellent coverage in at least 30 Japanese and International print and television outlets to date, including a WSJ article that was shared widely across social media.

What is FIELD?

The FIELD system will be a platform for the delivery of advanced analytics for FANUC CNCs, robots, peripheral devices, and sensors used in automation systems. It will drive improved machine reliability, quality, flexibility, and speed – thereby increasing Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) and manufacturing profitability. Application developers and others can build solutions that improve OEE, output, and quality using this open platform. More details are available here.


The FIELD system extends the success of our existing FANUC Zero Downtime (ZDT) project (video here) in the United States that leverages the Cisco IOT cloud and software platform to help our customers realize profound business outcomes from connecting their machines and plant floor assets. This is part of our Digital Manufacturing initiative from the Manufacturing IVSG team.

What does Cisco Provide?

We provide:

  • The distributed edge compute for the CNCs and Robots with our UCS and ICA platforms. These will provide the data collectors for the massive amount of data that needs processing from what are sometimes thousands of machines and robots in a single plant.
  • Converged connectivity with Cisco and Rockwell Stratix switches.
  • End-to-end industrial security embedded in the network using the Industrial Security Appliance line and Sourcefire.
  • Security services to ensure the right data is getting to the right people from the machines, the user, and the application identity.
  • A software platform including application provisioning, monitoring, lifecycle management, and a message broker.

While FIELD will initially be an on-premise application, we anticipate some of the uses will require cloud or hybrid environments. Service managers and customers can see the status of their robots and we imagine a future where the opportunity for a multi-plant view and dynamic app updates will require Cisco cloud services.

Dramatic improvements are anticipated from these efforts. According to a recent SCM World survey of more than 400 manufacturing business line executives we expect outcomes such as:

  • Reduced downtimes of 48%
  • Reduced defects of 49%
  • OEE improvements of 16%.

The partnership with FANUC is evidence that these outcomes can and are being realized. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this effort, one that will be key to our positioning in other industries that want to realize the benefits of digitization.

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Bryan Tantzen

Senior Director

Manufacturing Solutions