Manufacturers use wireless to increase margins, reduce cycle times, enable lean, and improve equipment productivity. While pervasive wireless connects sensors, tools, robots, AGVs, and RFID devices, it also enables mobility. Mobility supports far more than just cell phones, tablets, and laptops.

Very simply put, mobility drives data, voice, video and location applications.

Source: https://www.automation.com

Start with Data

Data drives everything.  Sensors create access to operational data.  The simplest type of IoT sensors – vibration, current, particle, temperature, and humidity connect wirelessly. These sensors communicate with secure wireless networks with embedded edge computers to move and reduce the data we want to keep, as well discard the perishable data.

Common manufacturing data applications:

  • Wireless Tools – screwdrivers, torque wrenches, scanners,
  • Operational Metrics like OEE, MTTR, Cycle time
  • Predictive Maintenance – this is a shift from reactive maintenance – fix it when it breaks and preventive maintenance – fix after a measured period, or use cycle counts predictive
  • Real-time Alerts
  • Proactive Event Management/Workflow
  • Optimize Material consumption


Source: http://www.machinedesign.com

Advance to Voice

When we move to voice, we typically think about providing workers with tablets and cell phones. Workers must be able to do their jobs at the place of work. Beyond the mobile phones and tablets, and very specifically in Cisco’s case, Wi-Fi enabled voice, makes it possible to replace the licensed use of hand-held paid spectrum and cellular fees by shifting to Wi-Fi enabled communicators.

Of course, with Wi-Fi wireless communications, we gain immediate access to factory floor personnel as well as receive real-time notifications, pages, and safety alert messages.

Make It Real with Video

Video enabled by wireless has become part of our daily lives, typically through applications like Cisco SPARK, WebEx, Facetime and many others. On the shop floor or in a warehouse, the video capabilities take voice to the next level. Whether enabled by a mobile phone or tablet, video immediately takes away the mystery of trying to imagine what is happening or what has happened.

Remote Expert on the shop floor

Through video, manufacturers benefit by:

  • Dashboards & Digital Signs – most factories still print out and post their latest production metrics
  • Faster Time to Respond – without having to fly in an expert
  • Digital work instructions – improving training and quality processes
  • Physical Security – monitoring for theft, loss, and shrinkage

Location – Mobility Nirvana

Many consider ‘location’ the ultimate wireless capability. To me, location represents just another way to achieve business objectives. By having real-time location details about assets, tooling and workers, manufacturers:

  • Improve asset utilization – lower capital cost by having fewer ‘back-ups’
  • Optimize physical workflow – visualize real-time bottleneck locations
  • Eliminate hunting events – if we know the asset’s location, we no longer waste resources searching for it
  • Man down/worker safety – send help to distressed workers

Some of the location use cases require more technical configurations, but many are quite simple to setup, even by using a data capable network. Take Man Down as an example: when a worker needs assistance, they push the button on their RFID tag or mobile phone which triggers a ‘panic alert.’ The panic alert determines the worker’s position so help can be dispatched immediately.

Keep in mind harsh manufacturing environments often require ruggedized mobility devices and infrastructure to withstand the elements – moisture, temperature, dust, contamination, etc.

We would like learn more about your current manufacturing operations to see how we can help increase your margins, reduce cycle times, and improve equipment productivity.

Please contact your Cisco reseller or me to schedule a mobility readiness assessment.


Wireless Connects Everything!


To learn more about Cisco’s mobility and manufacturing wireless solutions, please follow these links below:




Neil Heller

Manufacturing Industry Solutions