The 2014 Automation Conference (TAC) was held March 20-21, 2014 in sunny Chicago (Yes, sunny Chicago!! I made sure to pack some California sunshine for the Windy City) attracted a diverse group of automation and manufacturing thought leaders and subject matter experts from leading machine builders, system integrators, manufacturing end users, standards bodies and educational institutions. The focus and objective of the conference was to have peer to peer discussions and dialogue around the technologies and next generation automation strategies that are enabling and driving the Internet of Everything (IoE).
“This conference is designed not only to make you think about the application of automation, but also to help you take action” – David Greenfield, Automation World, editor in chief and TAC event director
The conference achieved this goal and more. The framework of the sessions encouraged audience collaboration and dialogue around the challenges and practical steps and strategies being designed and deployed to achieve an integrated and scalable IoE architecture that drives value across the entire manufacturing value chain, as depicted in the video below:
I can “wax poetic” around all the great individual sessions held at the conference around Big Data, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), mobility, virtualization, cloud computing, cyber-physical security, network switching, CPwE (Converged Plantwide Ethernet), safety systems, workforce retention and optimization, but I think its more fun and interesting to summarize the highlights of the conference through the context of a use case that was shared at the conference.
What better way to meet that objective than to leverage a manufacturing use case around beer!!!!
Automating Brewing Operations from Two Different Perspectives
I attended this session where Highland Brewing, Sierra Nevada and Vicinity Manufacturing gave an interesting perspective around the challenges and strategies in deploying their next generation manufacturing operation.
Highland Brewing is a regional brewer of craft beers based in the Southeast and Sierra Nevada is a larger brewer with more of national brand. The interesting contrast between the two is that Highland Brewing is designing more automation into their operational facility and Sierra Nevada is scaling their automation and IoE strategies across all their facilities. Both perspectives and approaches have the same objective. How do I effectively integrate all the various technologies into an intelligent, flexible and scalable system/architecture to meet the following business outcomes:
- Increase Customer Loyalty
- Supply Chain Optimization
- Operational Excellence
- Energy Sustainability
- Disruptive Innovation
To paraphase Kevin Wheeler, Director of Operations, Highland Brewing Co,“Our core competency is crafting great beer. We have an opportunity to drive efficiency into our operation by an integrating IoT/IoE platform … the challenge is figuring out the best approach.”
Like Highland Brewing, manufacturers must begin to transform existing business processes and fundamentally rethink how they create, operate, and service smart, connected products in the IoE. For those that get it right, the future represents a huge opportunity to create product and service advantages.
Are you having challenges putting together the “IoE technology puzzle?” Is security the main barrier to IoE adoption?