When Mohawk, the world’s largest flooring manufacturer, had challenges in their factory network, they needed a partner who understood the enterprise and IT “carpeted” side of the house (pun intended) as well as the “concrete” side of the house in manufacturing.  They chose Cisco, the world leader in enterprise networking and the #1 market share leader in industrial managed switching.

Mohawk invests heavily in environmentally responsible practices, from developing renewably sourced products to keeping their facilities and delivery systems streamlined and efficient.  In its Summerville, GA factory, Mohawk turns millions of recycled plastic bottles into premier carpets.

Read the case study here and check out the video, below:

Mohawk’s challenges were not terribly uncommon for manufacturing in any industry.  As a flooring manufacturer for over 100 years, their factory automation systems expanded over time and were pieced together as the business grew.  These multiple layers created a patchwork of automation systems, networks, and even numerous network protocols, which resulted in excessive network downtime and high support costs.  It also made it challenging to access trapped machine data to improve business operations through any smart manufacturing or Industrial IoT initiative.

Mohawk’s objectives were in line with many manufacturers’ goals.  They wanted to lower operating costs, boost efficiency, get insight into their production processes and simplify/flatten their complex factory networks.

Cisco, together with our partners implemented ruggedized, cost-effective Industrial Ethernet 2000 and 3010 Series Switches on Mohawk’s factory floor.  These switches are part of Cisco’s Connected Factory – Network Solution.  This solution is made up of a series of thoroughly tested, validated, and scalable factory network infrastructure products designed for the factory floor – and powered by Cisco.  Network designs are captured in CVDs (Cisco-Validated Designs), which make it easy for manufacturers to deploy a network that is robust, scalable and secure.

Cisco also covered their plant, wall-to-wall (another pun!), with wireless communications on the factory floor.  The Connected Factory – Wireless solution from Cisco is tested and validated for factory floor environments with demonstrated reliability in industrial control-system environments and for ultra-low-latency motion-control applications.  Cisco Wireless controllers offer robust scalability, which significantly lowers operating expenses by providing the visibility and control needed to manage thousands of wireless points from a single location.

Cisco offers wired-to-wireless access controls and the additional end-to-end security benefits of Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) within a Cisco wireless environment.  Ultimately, data access on the factory floor is now seamless for better communications and real-time information sharing.  Together, Connected Factory Network and Wireless provide one converged plant-to-business network, all based on standard Ethernet.

That single network is managed with Cisco Network Prime for cost-effective device operation, administration, and network fault-management.  This single solution helps customers reduce management complexity and deliver carrier-class services. It supports the physical network components as well as the computing infrastructure and virtual elements found in data centers. Prime provides detailed end-to-end views of the physical and virtual network topology and inventory, GUI-based device configuration with prebuilt and downloadable scripts, Up-to-date displays of the network event, state, and configuration changes, and Topology-guided troubleshooting, automated root-cause identification and alarm reduction through de-duplication.

Running standard industrial Ethernet on the factory floor also allowed Mohawk to use standard IP based camera solutions. Standard industrial Ethernet guarantees critical IACS (Industrial Automation and Control System) Traffic is prioritized while still allowing for non-critical traffic like video on the same network.  This design simplifies the network architecture, and lowers support costs.

The result for Mohawk: more in-depth, real-time visibility across the plant through pervasive wireless and access to critical data anywhere.  Mohawk also realized improved cooperation between IT and Operations when they worked together on their new network with Cisco.  This is a significant area where Cisco can help.  Our traditional strength on the IT side of the house means we can be a broker between IT and operations resulting in a more straightforward deployment, faster problem resolution, and a more secure infrastructure.

It also resulted in a whopping 12% improvement in employee productivity, and over $1 million saved at a single plant.  Mohawk’s results are not atypical.  Partner with the network leader, Cisco in both the enterprise and factory, to roll out the red-carpet and create a clear path to optimized production.


Scot Wlodarczak

No Longer with Cisco