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Real-World IoT Solutions at Automation Fair 2014

In a little over two weeks, many of my colleagues at Cisco are joining customers, ecosystem partners and strategic alliance partner   Rockwell Automation for their largest user conference, Automation Fair.  Automation Fair will be held at sunny Anaheim, California from November 19th thru the 20th.

Every year, we showcase the best of our real-world, joint solutions with Rockwell Automation as we meet with the many Operations, Controls, IT and Manufacturing professionals that attend this industry event. In our booth (#668), we will be demonstrating a complete factory floor model that will show you how to transform your production environment into a truly connected, Internet of Things-enabled ‘Factory of the future’. The demos will  showcase several leading edge manufacturing solutions such as factory floor application virtualization, remote and mobile access, energy management, video collaboration and security and will give a glimpse into some new products including wireless offerings.

Recently at the Internet of Things World Forum,  John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and Jim Grubb, Chief Demonstration Officer, showed a similar ‘connected manufacturing’ and industrial automation demonstration scenario- showing the breadth of what’s possible today. Take a look:

In addition to the factory solutions, we will also be showcasing Oil and Gas solutions including Secure Pipeline and Digital Oilfield as well as our recently announced Secure Ops solution.   Plus we will have technical and industry sessions where we will have Cisco subject matter experts share their knowledge and best practices.  Checking out these real-world solution demos as well as attending enriching sessions help broaden your skills set as  John Nesi of Rockwell Automation describes in this blog.  All are definitely worth your time and trouble.

For more information on Cisco’s presence at Automation Fair, please visit our event site.  Thanks for reading and see you at Anaheim!

IoT, STEM, Women, Innovation, Manufacturing and the 52% Opportunity

I can humbly say that I can now understand, embrace and apply the phrase that my grandfather often spoke, “Son, I’ve lived a little.  Trust your eyes more than your ears.   May the HOPE experienced by your ears be the reality of your eyes.”

I, one day HOPE that the reality of equality and opportunity for all people regardless of culture, socioeconomic status, gender or sexual orientation is achieved in my lifetime.

So, what does all this HOPE stuff have to do with IoT, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Manufacturing, Innovation and Women? Stem Women

Well, let me explain……….

Here’s some metrics you may be familiar with:

  • IoT global value opportunity estimated to be over $8 Trillion
  • Over the next 10 years it is estimated there will be two million unfilled STEM related jobs globally
  • 82 percent of American manufacturers surveyed reported a moderate or severe shortage of high-skilled workers
  • Of the 52% — of women who earn STEM degrees, 52% leave the field within 10 years.

2014 IoT World Forum

…. But HOPE descended upon the Windy City of Chicago last week in the form of The Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum sponsored by Cisco Systems and its partners, including Rockwell Automation and Panduit.  The forum brought over 1700 thought leaders, executives, and creators representing companies and entities in the public, private, and education sectors

The event served as a platform and opportunity for participants to leverage the mindshare, perspectives and experiences from their peers.  The objective of the event was to evolve the IoT conversations FROM determining the IoT value opportunity TO “how” value can/is being realized from the IoT paradigm.  The HOPE is to leverage IoT to bring real and positive disruptive change to all sectors of society including education, finance, politics, environment, education, food, business and technology.  This can only be achieved by soliciting, including and welcoming a diversity of perspectives obtained from both women and minorities.

The 52% Opportunity

The event agenda was well put together with a broad range of diverse and engaging IoT topics being presented and discussed.  One of those agenda topics was entitled, “Women in IoT (STEM and the Lost 52%)

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Improving R&D Through Remote Visualization

Authors: Randal Kenworthy and Doug Wycoff

Innovation in manufacturing comes from many sources.   One of the core and traditional sources is the research and development (R&D) function within a manufacturing organization.   However, the requirements and traditional processes within those functions are changing.

Manufacturers are beginning to see an increase in the amount of collaborative R&D efforts.   That collaboration takes place across geographic boundaries.   Increasingly, it also extends outside the traditional walls of the organization to include other companies, suppliers, partners and universities.

Most organizations have a strong desire to enhance collaboration, but there’s also a need to make sure sensitive data is not exposed, data silos are removed and that the manufacturer’s employees are able to visualize diverse data sets independent of location. These abilities help close information gaps between domains to improve the security, speed, and accuracy of product design and research. .

Challenges Facing Manufacturing and Energy

The Manufacturing and Energy (MNE) industry is facing a unique set of IT challenges when it comes to mobile workforces being able to access and visualize data. Many organizational infrastructures are not designed to take on the visualization capabilities necessary for today’s manufacturing and energy workers. A few challenges impacting the industry are:

Computer processing intensive 3D Design applications – From a research and development standpoint, we’re seeing engineers and designers working in applications that require heavy graphic usage – 3D graphics specifically. For example, there are engineers doing visualization of the topography of the landscape, trying to find where there’s oil in the ground and engineers designing the next generation jet engine. These 3D applications are very intensive from a Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) standpoint.

More collaborative R&D efforts – Many current organizational infrastructures are not equipped to securely and collaboratively share graphics, drawings and renderings among partners and even fellow offices. Often times today, we’re seeing a 3rd party design company helping with some of the engineering aspects. This requires the ability to share 3D graphic files across multiple parties, globally, both internally and externally within an organization. This means manufacturers now have to deal with engineers outside of their organizations that might be on the other side of the country, or even in another continent.

Security – as Internet of Things (IoT) continues to propagate, the number of vulnerabilities and exposure points for cyber-theft and attacks are increasing.

In order to address these challenges, the industry is leveraging various emerging technologies and innovations. One capability is remote visualization – remote collaboration on 3D graphics and visualization, through a unified infrastructure. Cisco is now helping create an optimized solution that accelerates the GPU capabilities of a VDI solution.

Benefits of a VDI-Enabled Unified Infrastructure

Recently, an oil and gas exploration company incorporated a unified infrastructure solution called FlexPod Datacenter with NVIDIA and Citrix. FlexPod enables you to centralize important datasets in one or a few locations and make the results of visualization available wherever they are needed. Centralizing data simplifies data integration between systems and accelerates workflows across functions (geophysics, geology, reservoir and simulation). Your geoscientists, engineers, and business decision makers can see important results in real-time, without the bottlenecks that result from transferring huge data sets over network connections or by mail. A few additional benefits include:

  • Eliminate the infrastructure challenges created by ever-growing datasets.
  • Improve collaboration within your organization.
  • Make visualization available where and when it’s needed, including on mobile devices—without local data copies.
  • Allow you to share the results of visualization across organizational boundaries while keeping valuable datasets secure.

Similarly, imagine a defense manufacturer has a large 3D design file that has been shared within the organization and amongst partners. Let’s assume that it’s on 30 different PCs in different countries. The ability for this company to manage, track and protect those 30 designs is challenging because it’s so distributed and hard to know what security levels all partners have in place. Under the FlexPod solution, there is one version of that design/drawing and it’s in a centralized data center that you manage and protect. With this, organizations have better control over what cyber security protection they have around it and also have better control of the actual files. Data centers are not 100 percent threat proof, but they are more secure and much more manageable than if the data was distributed across multiple PCs across the network.

This ability to manage top-secret information is why one defense manufacturer worked with Cisco to build a VDI platform that met all Department of Defense (DOD) security requirements.

No matter how carefully you plan, there can be unforeseen needs and opportunities that result in a requirement for more compute infrastructure in a hurry. Whether it’s in an existing data center, or a remote location, the integrated and tested design of FlexPod Datacenter means that you can have new infrastructure up and running in less time with less effort, providing a distinct competitive advantage in situations where time is of the essence.

Seeing is Believing  

A real-time clip of the VDI solution rendering a 3D Visualization application:

To learn more about visualizing data sets and incorporating a unified infrastructure for enhanced R&D collaboration, visit our solutions page. To see this solution firsthand, visit Cisco in booth 709 at SEG 2014. Together with partners NetApp, NVIDIA and Citrix, we’ll showcase how this solution enhances collaboration and enables faster decision making without exposing sensitive data.

Join Cisco at Automation Fair 2014

As the seasons change and it turns to autumn, it’s almost that time of year to make plans to attend  Automation FairAs always, this event is a ‘can’t miss’ conference for all of you who are in controls, operations or IT for industrial companies.  This year, Automation Fair will be held in the West Coast, in Anaheim from November 19th to the 20th.

As part of our strong strategic relationship with Rockwell Automation, Cisco will once again have a significant presence at this event including speaker presentations, participation in industry forums and our own booth (# 688) as well as participation in the Industrial IP Advantage booth (#758).

Here’s just a short list of why you should make plans to attend Automation Fair this year:

  • Get up to speed on how to connect your factory to the rest of your enterprise and understand all the various trends in enterprise networking. Scott Friberg from Cisco will be presenting a technical session on this.
  • Attend industry forums including Mining (yours truly will be participating), Global Machine builders with Cisco’s Kevin Davenport participating and Food and Beverage with Cisco’s Randal Kenworthy.
  • Catch three sessions where Cisco subject matter experts are joining colleagues from Rockwell Automation to present on these interesting topics:
    • T13 – The Future of Manufacturing in a Connected World -Bryan Tantzen
    • W02 – Securing the Connected Enterprise – Anthony Sabella
    • W10 – Wireless Design Considerations for Industrial Applications -Roy Osterberg

Watch this blog as we post more details on what Cisco will be demonstrating at Automation Fair And on site at the show, we will be posting videos from the action on the show floor so be sure to come back and check on our Manufacturing blog. And follow us on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube and join our LinkedIn group.  Hope to see you in Anaheim!


Solving Manufacturing Complexities through Data Analytics

Data analytics has been an integral part of manufacturing management for most of its history. However, analytics has undergone both evolutionary and revolutionary changes over the decades with the advent of information technology and digital data gathering and analysis. Part One of this series takes a look at the evolution behind data analytics and new data sources behind its growth. Part Two will provide practical applications of data within the manufacturing environment.

Part One: Data Analytics in Manufacturing

The most recent revolution in this space has been the availability of an extremely large amount of data, collected in real time, from multiple sources across the manufacturing operations, often referred to as “Big Data.” Sources of this data are:

  • Various sensors and measuring devices that are part of the manufacturing line
  • Material input-output transaction processing at each manufacturing stage
  • Location-based data for material and equipment in a manufacturing plant
  • Quality inspection data from online checks
  • Usage based data for equipment

Analysis of all this big data can provide deep insights into the manufacturing planning and operations processes and aid in optimized decision making.

Production and Distribution Planning  

A large amount of data is available from current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) that lends itself to analysis, providing insights into the performance of the manufacturing operations. When large amounts of data from the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)-sensors and machines are included – the analysis yields results at low levels of granularity (both time and equipment). This kind of analysis can help with the end-to-end supply chain planning processes, including capacity planning, order allocation, production scheduling, inventory planning and can even be made to extend to suppliers, customers and logistics partners.

Process parameter optimization

In cases of complex manufacturing operations, especially where a number of process parameters affect productivity, manufacturers can use real-time data from the plant floor to optimize such parameters to improve yield, quality and operational efficiency. These solutions are common in the chemical process as well as semiconductor manufacturing industries, but lend themselves to use in other industries that incorporate process parameter controls.

Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance

While most organizations focus on minimizing unplanned downtime by implementing planned preventive maintenance schedules, these are expensive and time consuming, not to mention the risk of failures and unplanned downtime due to reliability issues in the hundreds of machine parts involved. Leading manufacturing organizations have implemented condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions to overcome such issues. With the availability of huge amounts of data from PLCs, sensors and machines directly, it is now possible to analyze this data and predict failure to a level of accuracy that allows predictive maintenance to be completely automated with minimal human intervention in decision making. These have resulted in improved equipment efficiencies and lower quality costs.

Material flow analysis (identification of bottlenecks, non-value added flows)

Most plant floors and warehouses deal with millions of pallets of raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods that are moved around the plant floor and warehouses using material handling equipment. Such movement often leads to bottlenecks that can result in downtimes due to machines being starved of inputs. In many cases, such movement is not really necessary for the operation and adds no value to the product. Location based data from these pallets as well as material handling equipment can be analyzed to find bottlenecks, which can then be targeted to improve operational efficiencies on the plant floor

Lean / six sigma initiatives

Most manufacturers now have an extreme focus on operating costs, yields and quality and have implemented lead / six sigma initiatives to identify and eliminate waste in any form from the plant floor. Such initiatives rely heavily on data based analysis and decision making to identify improvement actions. Data from the plant floor, whether it is from the stationary sources (machines, PLCs, sensors) or mobile sources (materials, material handling equipment, people), is key to support these initiatives.

How can Cisco help your manufacturing organization improve efficiencies and gain valuable insight through data? Visit our solutions page to find out more and share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. Stayed tuned for Part Two of this series where I’ll detail practical applications of data within the manufacturing environment.