Asia Pacific, Japan, and China manufacturers fuel the world economy, and their digitization practices influence global innovation, our investment climate, technology purchases, and individual country business and partner ecosystems. Earlier this month, I had the privilege of hosting the region’s largest manufacturing companies for Cisco APJC’s second Digital Manufacturing Summit in Nagoya, Japan. It was a resounding success for several reasons – our industry speakers who told their personal stories about how their companies are digitizing, the Toyota factory tour, our sponsors and their demos – but one reason stood out. I was struck by the innovative people and companies in the room and on stage, and how willing our speakers were to share their ideas, learnings, insights, and experiences when digitizing their factories and businesses.
Our intention with the Digital Manufacturing Summit was to support our customers in accelerating their digital transformation journey because we consider this imperative to their future long-term success. From Cisco’s perspective, we see many manufacturers stuck in the pilot phase without achieving their desired results at scale in their journey to Industry 4.0. We hosted the event precisely to help nudge them out of this Digital Transformation slump – focusing on five topics that were top of mind for our event participants: Operational Excellence (OE), Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), 5G and Industrial IoT, Risk & Security, and Innovation.
Although confidence in digitization is high, the industry is facing increasingly challenging expectations and needs. Manufacturing companies are facing margin impacts due to high raw materials costs, the US-China trade war is causing global uncertainty, network and application security is inhibiting companies from investing in digital, and labor shortages are hampering productivity. To solve these issues, manufacturers are pressured to deliver new business capabilities as soon as possible. These include data-driven insights into their production lines and plants, improved customer experience via omnichannel and customer-centric content and experiences, as well as digital operations (including supply chain and connected assets via IoT).
For CIOs, this drive for digital combined with increased pressure on the bottom line creates a new set of challenges. CIOs are required to manage their data center, clouds, wired and wireless infrastructure, converging IT, OT and IoT – and keep everything secure even as things change and new attack surfaces are created. On top of this effort, they are asked to innovate continuously, and better yet, spend less budget than before.
If you are a CIO, how can you do this? You must automate. IT architectures must be reinvented for this next-gen digital world. We need an architecture that spans across new and emerging network domains, integrating them in new ways. Our goal is to implement a modern architecture that delivers outstanding digital experiences and greater agility for end-users–With the ability to scale effectively. Our solution is a multi-domain architecture that leverages software-defined capabilities to leverage automation and visibility in the network. Our goal is to deliver an always on, always performing, always contemporary architecture. Cisco is building this Multi-Domain Architecture that securely connects any user, on any device, on any network to any application. We are the only ones that can sit in the middle of this crossroads of users, devices, data, and apps. And we do for multiple industries, including manufacturing.
I want to give two great examples of how we made this happen for our customers recently. An ASEAN petrochemical company, with over 50K employees, is set to open a new billion-dollar refinery to produce thousands of barrels a day. Keeping the 5,000 people on-site safe, not to mention support a fully mobile capable workforce in a complex with no fences, seemed like an impossible task. For a secure smart and connected plant with agile architecture, they started with facility-wide industrial wired and wireless. This pervasive Wi-Fi tracks people (with their badges) as well as vehicles and vital assets. Mobile devices and connected helmets were installed for data logging, video calls, and info notifications. Sensors for dangerous gases were connected to make workers feel safer on-ground – and panic buttons installed via wearables. A location analytics engine can see traffic jams, hold-ups, and underutilized resources. From the first day, the plant opens its doors, it can guarantee improved health and safety for everyone on-ground, an opportunity to lower cost and a mobility friendly culture.
Another key example of innovation on the factory floor is a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer. They are expecting a surge in sales of its electric vehicles in the next few years, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and therefore the production of the fuel cells that power this vehicle needs to be seriously ramped up. The new production line in its factory should be scalable, as well as deliver insights for data-driven decision-making and increased asset utilization of production and test equipment. Leveraging a secure, IoT-ready infrastructure with a big data platform layered on top, plus in-plant communications, they were able to make this happen and more. In fact, the company was able to leverage the new connected production line to evaluate the success of new tech to build a new standard design of global factories in 5 years’ time.
When I opened the Digital Manufacturing Summit last week, my call to action for all participants was to learn, share and partner. From what I heard on stage and in conversations with customers and Cisco partners, they considered the Summit an opportunity to learn how others solved similar digitization pain points by identifying the right strategy, technologies, and scalable infrastructure. They also told me that hearing the digitization stories of speakers inspired them to share their own experiences. And lastly, they said that the Summit was a chance to continue to build unique partnerships across the industry. With this roadmap to success, I look forward to seeing Asian manufacturers’ contribution to our digital economy in 2020 and beyond.