Fanuc, Rockwell and Cisco combine to optimise CNCs and automation

Posted on 19 Apr 2016 by Tim Brown

Fanuc is collaborating with Cisco, Rockwell and Preferred Networks on the development and deployment of a platform that connects CNC machines with robots, peripheral devices and sensors.

The companies will work together on the development and deployment of the platform, named Fanuc Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (FIELD), which will aim to deliver analytics that optimise manufacturing production.

FIELD will drive improved machine reliability, quality, flexibility, and speed – elevating the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) and increasing manufacturing profitability. It will also provide advanced machine learning and deep learning capabilities.

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By working with Cisco, Rockwell Automation, and Preferred Networks (a provider of AI solutions) – Fanuc will offer a complete solution including network and compute infrastructure, applications, and an enabling middleware platform.

With this open platform, application developers, sensor and peripheral device makers, system integrators, and others can build solutions that improve equipment efficiency, manufacturing output, and quality.

“This collaboration represents a historic shift in the industry, with IoT, industrial automation and machine learning coming together to make the factory of the future a reality,” said Rowan Trollope, SVP IoT and Applications, Cisco.

“It’s been talked about for years, but now it is really happening. Cisco couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this effort, one that will be key to our positioning in other industries that want to realize the benefits of digitization.”

Extension of current Fanuc success

The FIELD system extends the success of the existing Fanuc ZDT (Zero Downtime) connected robots project; ZDT is built with Cisco cloud, IoT data collection software, and end-to-end security capabilities.

The companies are working together to implement systems for major automotive manufacturers by leveraging the Allen-Bradley Stratix Ethernet switches from Rockwell Automation to connect robots to a Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) – all of this running on Fanuc and Cisco’s ZDT Data Collection software. Automotive customers who have implemented this system are quickly realizing a significant decrease in production downtime as well as increased cost savings.

Intelligent manufacturing

The FIELD system will bring the power of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence into the hands of customers and application developers — driving manufacturing to a new level of productivity and efficiency. Fanuc and Preferred Networks have established these new technologies for applications such as Bin Picking robots, anomaly detection, and failure prediction. The FIELD system combines both artificial intelligence and edge-computing technologies – enabling distributed learning. Data is generated from robots and machines and is processed in real time at the edge of the network. This allows those devices to intelligently coordinate and collaborate in a flexible manner – resulting in sophisticated manufacturing practices not before possible.

Who provides what for the FIELD system?

Fanuc: Provides CNCs and robots with embedded sensors to track key variables required to improve machine reliability, quality, and speed.

Fanuc, Cisco and Preferred Networks: Provides enabling middleware Platform Software, as well as security and application lifecycle management applications. It will also leverage Preferred Networks’ open deep learning framework (Chainer), IoT Stream Engine (SensorBee) – and other advanced machine learning libraries within its Deep Intelligence in-Motion (DIMo) platform.

Cisco and Rockwell Automation: Provides networking, compute and security infrastructure to connect the robots, CNCs, and other cell equipment to the FIELD applications. Based on the Rockwell Automation and Cisco collaboratively developed Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) architecture – this further drives improved security, connectivity, flexibility, and scalability – all of which allows connection from a single, small cell to a large factory with hundreds of cells.

Fanuc, Rockwell Automation and Preferred Networks: Delivers the initial Application Software on top of the FIELD middleware and infrastructure platform. This will extend the LINK-i and ZDT applications currently deployed, along with additional deep learning applications from the FANUC and Preferred Networks partnership. It is planned that Rockwell Automation manufacturing software products (including FactoryTalk View, FactoryTalk VantagePoint, and FactoryTalk Production Center) will seamlessly integrate with the FIELD system to speed deployment.