Rockwell Automation and CISCO Systems are looking to the future by delivering secure, resilient infrastructure capable of furthering fourth generation manufacturing systems.
Many will have heard them being discussed at industry-related events or even read about them within these very pages.
The virtues and possibilities they may provide are being extolled at an almost daily rate, yet for many manufacturers, the questions of “how will this affect me” and “how can I take the appropriate first steps” aren’t so prevalent.
This summer, the Manufacturing 4.0 conference – hosted by Hanley Automation in Dublin, Ireland and sponsored by Rockwell Automation – brought together 100 invited delegates to hear from some of the leading operational and information technology minds about the political, economic and practical consequences of Industry 4.0.
Joining Ireland’s Taoiseach (PM), Enda Kelly to speak at the event were representatives from Hanley Automation; Rockwell Automation; CISCO Systems; Microsoft, and SAS, among others.
According to Rockwell Automation’s vice president of market development, John Nesi, concerns over whether these visions of the future will involve widespread upheaval to entrenched manufacturing operations can be overcome by taking less disruptive, intermediary steps today in preparation for tomorrow.
“The connected enterprise is something that’s absolutely doable now, we’ve implemented it across Rockwell Automation’s global footprint to prove that it can be done. As a result, it becomes a future-proof first step that’s ultimately a pre-requisite to achieve industry 4.0.”
The Connected Enterprise:
- Production efficiencies
- Regulatory compliance
- Labour productivity
- Speed and agility
- Organisational alignment
- Technology adoption
- Data security
- Interoperability standards
- Upgrade infrastructure
- Working data capital
- Collaborate and optimise
Nesi says that as a result of global demand increasing and the margin for errors decreasing, industrial manufacturing needs to work smarter, “Success requires the right connections, enhanced by the Internet of Things – with almost any object utilising embedded technology to gather and transmit information.”
Rockwell Automation’s “Connected Enterprise” promotes securely converging plant floor operations technology with business-level information technology, converting information into insightful working data capital to enable better decision making.
“There is a huge opportunity here for manufacturers to optimise their operations, become more demand-driven and increase sustainability,” says Nesi.
“By making factories a critical cog rather than a potential stumbling block, companies can become more responsive to consumers; achieve production efficiencies and inventory reductions; take advantage of disaster forecasting and recovery, and benefit from less supply chain risk and variability.”
With no one vendor or partner capable of providing a complete solution, collaboration is key to realising a truly connected enterprise.
Smart assets, mobility, visualisation, information management and analytics are helping to merge IT processes (i.e. ERP, HR, SCM and CRM) with operational technology (OT) data (sensors, actuators, controllers, machines, equipment and such like), but such a progression requires seamless, secure connectivity across operations.
To that effect, the strategic partnership formed between Rockwell Automation and CISCO Systems combines the former’s expertise in industrial automation and control systems, with the latter’s proficiency in networking.
Maciej Kranz – CISCO Systems’ vice president, corporate technology group – explains that the connected factory will be the key driver behind enabling the Industrial Internet of Everything (IIoE), quoting the statistics that there will be 50bn smart objects by 2020 with a value stake estimated at US$3.9tn.
“There is a huge opportunity for manufacturing over the coming half-decade with industry’s recent growth accelerating onshoring; additive manufacturing; robotic advancements, and innovation,” he says.
“CISCO and Rockwell Automation have more than 10,000 joint customers globally, and our strategy breaks down to; Phase 1 – drive industrial migration to EtherNet/IP, Phase 2 – develop joint architectures, i.e. , and Phase 3 – build united solutions.”
For firms looking to embrace the IIoE, Kranz suggests connecting every device; implementing open standards; identifying solutions based on modular architectures; leveraging cloud capability; converging IT and OT; embracing industry partnerships, and nominating an IIoE champion.
Sanjay Ravi – managing director, worldwide discrete manufacturing industry for Microsoft, which is collaborating with both Rockwell Automation and CISCO – notes that we need to “reimagine manufacturing” in a connected world, a mindset shift that relies on the IIoE being supported by the “Internet of People”.
Echoing the notion that industry collaboration will be critical moving forward, Ravi explains; “Working with partner ecosystems helps reduce the time, risk and cost of realising a connected enterprise, and ultimately smart manufacturing processes.”
He continues: “We don’t have to wait for the platforms necessary for a digitally connected business, i.e. device connectivity and management; data management and insights; advanced analytics, and process optimisation, to arrive, all are readily available.
“The era of system intelligence is here thanks to rich data management platforms and unlimited computing capacity. For example, the opportunity for manufacturer to differentiate through the power of analytics is absolutely available now, they just need to act,” Ravi urges.