Cisco expands Industrial Initiatives and Ecosystem

  • December 07, 2015
  • Cisco Systems
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Cisco is furthering their penetration into industrial applications. At their 2015 Global Editors' Conference, Cisco announced close partnerships with FANUC Robotics and Schneider Electric. The Cisco partner ecosystem now includes FANUC Robotics, GE, Panduit, Schneider Electric, and Rockwell Automation.   Cisco unveiled digital solutions that promise to transform the operations of manufacturing, transportation, and oil-and-gas companies, and address the security challenges these industries face as they digitize. Cisco projects that future industrial automation system architecture will include 60% of data processed at the edge of the network. Cisco’s goal is to provide a single, unified, secured network that is a “sensor and enforcer of cybersecurity.”

Cisco’s Tony Shakib, Industry Solutions VP, discussed research identifying top obstacles that companies face when leveraging new technology to improve results. 

  • Complex integration – 56% prefer fully integrated and validated solutions rather than separate best-of-breed vendors.
  • Automate - Need to automate extraction of insights and resulting actions, 42% believe analytics tools are most important enabler.
  • Data Overload – 40% of users believe data management is the number one capability needing improvement.
  • Expanded Security Vulnerability – 76% cited security as an important element of IoT (Internet of Things) implementation.
  • Siloed Networks – 25% experienced increased network strain when implementing IoT initiatives.

Cisco’s Solution Framework

Cisco offers a solutions framework that can be leveraged by companies embarking on the digital journey. The framework provides unified connectivity, system-wide cybersecurity, managed data from edge to the cloud, analytics, applications, and integration of business processes. This includes integration and management of wired, wireless, and cloud networking. Cisco emphasizes that this approach gives users a single, unified network with a completely secured network.

Connected Machine Solution

Cisco has introduced the Cisco Connected Machine Solution - a digital portfolio based on the Cisco IoT system. The solution enables rapid and repeatable machine connectivity, providing business improvements including Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), machine monitoring, optimization, predictive maintenance, process optimization, and process health monitoring.

Factory Infrastructure Accelerator Bundles

Cisco has introduced what they describe as simple, attractively-priced Factory Infrastructure Bundles to help manufacturers quickly and simply scale their infrastructure for the countless connected devices they are bringing on-line as part of their IoT initiatives.The bundles share a common Cisco Industrial Ethernet 5000 Series Switch.

Factory Accelerator Bundle

The Factory Accelerator bundle provide core infrastructure components to help enable a single connected factory or an entire IoT-enabled manufacturing enterprise. The objective is to unify the infrastructure to improve security and visibility. 

Connected Factory Network Accelerator Bundle

The Connected Factory Network Accelerator bundle provides a unified and converged plant wide network for flexible automation and machine-level visibility with rapid fault isolation and resiliency for an extremely reliable network and quick identification of network issues. This can reduce the overall hardware footprint by aggregating systems with Cisco industrial switches while reducing network interface card (NIC) and cabling costs.

Connected Factory Wireless Accelerator Bundle

The Connected Factory Wireless Accelerator bundle provides wireless for connecting a wide range of devices including machines, handheld devices, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Proper system architecture provides the flexibility to quickly change a manufacturing line and move assets. This architecture supports location-based tags and hyperlocation sensors that provide extreme visibility to assets and goods moving through the plant. This also includes support for mobile high-definition (HD) video cameras.

Cisco & FANUC

Cisco and FANUC are partnering to connect industrial robots used in manufacturing with the new Connected Machines product from Cisco. This enables preventive maintenance on machines, to avoid unnecessary downtime, by sending information from the robots up to Cisco's Cloud. Cisco and FANUC America’s ran a 12-month Zero Downtime (ZDT) pilot project with a major automotive manufacturer prior to release. 

With the FANUC ZDT solution, the robot is connected through a Cisco network and then into a Cisco edge compute data collector in the plant. The data relevant for the maintenance issue is sent to the Cisco Cloud where the cloud analytics engine captures the “out of range” exceptions and predicts the maintenance need. Then, an alert is sent from the cloud application to FANUC service personnel and to the manufacturing customer about the need for replacement part. The part is then shipped to arrive at the factory in time for the next scheduled planned maintenance window.   

Cisco & Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric introduced the BLISS (baseline integrated SCADA system) solution with compute and networking provided by Cisco. The solution delivers an IoT-enabled holistic pipeline management platform for new pipelines or upgrades to existing systems. This integrates Schneider Electric’s Enterprise OASyS SCADA with advanced applications and IT infrastructure. The goal is to provide operators with real-time visibility into the structural integrity of the pipeline to enable maintenance to be planned or immediate repairs to be effected.   

An effective SCADA solution is a critical piece of pipeline management and control that requires a significant IT infrastructure be effective including IT security. Developing this infrastructure can be costly and time intensive, possibly requiring several partners even before beginning the process of integrating SCADA software to run the pipeline.

This partnership offers pipeline operators a one-stop partner for implementing new converged pipeline management and control solutions. It integrates the SCADA service with modern fit-for-purpose IT infrastructure; including compute, network and data traffic embedded management, collaboration and IoT cybersecurity. The all-in-one integrated design is envisioned to significantly improve new project efficiency, quality, and life cycle cost.

Thoughts & Observations

Cisco continues to broaden relationships with industrial automation companies in both discrete and process industries.

Cisco is now offering user-accessible processors in Ethernet switches and routers so users can run application programs from within the device. This appears to support Cisco’s opinion that 60% of data will be processed at the edge of the network. 

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