Many manufacturers are gathered at the ARC World Industry Forum in Orlando this week discussing new technologies, best practices and emerging standards in manufacturing.  They’re talking about how to drive innovation with real-time advanced analytics, increase equipment utilization, implement energy-savings and sustainability strategies, collaborate amongst supply chain expertise with machine-level context and awareness, and enable mobile computing, cyber security and safety. One top of mind theme is The Internet of Things and its positive impact on all of these business goals.  But before manufacturers can capitalize on the Internet of Things, they will need a standards-based, converged, intelligent IP networking platform.

Standards-based IP networks drive operational efficiency and increase asset utilization to create greater profitability. An IP-based network can also streamline the connection of factory floor systems to private clouds, where manufacturing data is more secure and can be analyzed for production quality and product volumes based on real-time information.  This real-time data analysis can be flexibly accessed from multiple devices.

IT OT imageTo ease implementing a converged network, Cisco is introducing the Cisco Industrial Smart Solution, a Cisco end-to-end network architecture that leverages standard, unmodified Ethernet while offering greater security and management efficiencies, enabling innovations across the manufacturing value chain.

The Cisco Industrial Smart Solution brings together operation technology (OT) and information technology (IT) to create a flexible and scalable, standards-based IP network.   The smart solution is an expansion of the Converged Plant wide Ethernet (CPwE) architecture, co-developed by Cisco and Rockwell Automation, and is successfully deployed in many plant floor environments.

The Cisco Industrial Smart Solution is a tested and validated architecture that includes Cisco industrial IP Ethernet and security services, integrated partner solutions, a lifecycle of services including network, design, deployment, management services and more, plus a 5-year warranty on industrial Ethernet products.  The solution provides predictable network performance and system resiliency for common industrial applications, from plant Industrial Automation and Control to manufacturing executions systems (MES) to business-relevant systems like ERP, Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) applications.  Robust networking and security features give factory-floor access to remote users and partners, based on predefined security profiles and access controls.

Primary components of the solution are scalable Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) series switches, which are built to withstand extreme temperatures, high humidity, dust, water, vibration and shock.  These Cisco IE switches extend the superior ease of use and security capabilities of Cisco Catalyst Enterprise networks to automation and control systems.

Here are just a few examples of companies benefiting from converged OT/IT networks:

  • Skilled experts at Emirates Aluminium Company Limited (EMAL) can remotely support field personnel, thanks to the CPwE architecture.
  • General Motors is on track for a 166% ROI while it improves product quality and realizes cost efficiencies, thanks to an industrial Ethernet network.
  • The cost of ownership fell to one-half the industry average after Anglo Platinum converged its OT and IT networks.

POE Support in Industrial Switches

IE3000-2The Cisco IE2000 and IE3000 industrial Ethernet switches now offer Power over Ethernet (POE) for activation of devices such as IP phones, wireless access points and surveillance cameras connected to the Cisco network.  This innovative capability eliminates the need to install costly electrical wiring and panels in hard-to-reach places or harsh outdoor environments.

Cisco is working with Rockwell Automation and other leading industrial automation and control system partners to deliver architectures and solutions that ease the integration of IT and OT in a secure, reliable, and comprehensive manner.  This convergence of IT and OT is a pivotal foundation for manufacturing to drive innovation.

While I am in Orlando at the ARC forum, I look forward to having many lively discussions with thought leaders in manufacturing on how together we can continue to accelerate innovations for greater efficiencies, productivity and smarter business processes.


Maciej Kranz

Vice President and General Manager

Corporate Strategic Innovation Group