A trip to Automation Fair in the “Big Peach” (Atlanta) was time well spent! I ended up learning a lot about where manufacturers are headed through trade show floor conversations, questions during my presentations, and even evenings with customers over a few frosty beverages. They all made it clear there’s never been a better time to embrace the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), or Industrie 4.0, than now – all while confidently extending security throughout your plant.

In the IIPA booth I heard from a large number of operations focused customers that their IT departments were getting more and more involved in production.


The days of keeping “those darn IT People” out of the plant floor are behind us. This means there is greater need for operations-focused personnel to gain a better understanding of information technology needs, and vice versa. The IIPA organization is focused around exactly that – education to enhance operations and IT department cooperation.

In the Cisco booth, I had a number of conversations around Rockwell and Cisco’s CPwE, or Converged Plantwide Ethernet Design. This is a network backbone that can handle the demands and unleash the possibilities of digital technology.  

cpweMany of my discussions revolved around how having a tested, validated, and secure network design could help manufacturers implement Ethernet IP based architectures in their plants. The benefits of these designs include reducing plant floor network complexity, making future expansion easier, and insuring a future-proof, secure design.

There was also a lot of excitement over the ISA-3000 and Stratix 5950 security appliance released at the show. The Cisco ISA 3000 Industrial Security Appliance incorporates the same security as the popular Cisco ASA product with FirePOWER Services software.

The ISA-3000 provides access control, threat detection, and application visibility features for harsh environments. Benefits include gaining control and visibility across disparate systems, advanced threat detection, and improved security through consistent policy enforcement across the OT and IT network infrastructure. Security was of key interest for many customers with discussions around how Cisco products, software, and a defense in depth strategy can help manufacturers sleep well at night knowing that their intellectual property and equipment is protected.

In the Rockwell Integrated architecture booth, I spoke with a number of customers and Rockwell experts interested in extending wireless communications in their controls applications, including for safety.


The desire to reduce cabling and requirements of some challenging mobile applications (cranes, scissor lifts, etc) demand high performance wireless in rugged industrial quality enclosures, all managed with tools that IT people or operations people know and understand. Enter the Stratix wireless access points and Cisco/Meraki wireless products, all designed to meet the critical demands of control applications in both IT and OT camps.

I also spent time in Rockwell’s Connected Enterprise booth where Rockwell demonstrated a highly connected, knowledge-enabled industrial enterprise where devices and processes are optimized to enhance productivity, safety and security, sustainability, and economic performance. Some key Cisco Solutions shown included DX80 telepresence units and our Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager (VSOM) software, showing video feeds from Cisco security cameras around the show floor all managed from one central location.

During my technical presentations, many customers wanted a better understanding of how machine data could be used to improve machine performance and improve uptime. The FANUC booth on the show floor showed exactly that:

FANUC robotics help aggregate data from devices and analyze big data onsite using Cisco switching, security, and embedded computing technologies before transmitting relevant results to the Cisco cloud for additional analysis. FANUC demonstrated how the solution dramatically reduced production downtime and increased overall equipment effectiveness.

Next year’s Automation Fair will be in Houston, Texas on November 15-16, 2017 – We hope to see you there!

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Scot Wlodarczak

No Longer with Cisco