Historically, there has been little convergence between manufacturing and enterprise in the plant network. Instead, there are multiple, separate networks – one network may run fieldbus protocol at the device level, another network may run ControlNet protocol for machine-to-machine
communications, while a third protocol, such as Ethernet, or a proprietary network, links the machines to data acquisition and storage units for reporting or archiving. Meanwhile, a separate network, often an extension of the office Ethernet network, is on the plant floor, enabling workstation access to work orders and task instructions.
The FIFA World Cup brings out the competitive instincts of sports fans across the globe. The strategies, styles, skills and depth of teams around the globe are tested and validated like no other sporting event. How much training and practice does it take to play at that elite level? If you have participated as a coach or parent for your children’s soccer teams, you must appreciate the long journey these players and teams have been on to reach the pinnacle of their sport! Training, team building, and ‘play’ experience are all key factors for teams to achieve their goals whether on the soccer field or even the plant floor if you are thinking about transforming your industrial productivity.
For industrial plants today, a new competition is underway to produce faster, better and smarter than the other ‘teams’ around the globe. A key strategy involves enabling more teamwork, better decision making, and faster, more agile response by connecting people, processes, data and things in new ways. This market transition is referred to with varying names such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything, and Industry 4.0. One key aspect is how to best leverage the advantages of Internet Protocol (IP) which underpins so much of this wired and wireless connectivity – a new Industrial IP World Cup!
Many of us have had to deal with harsh winter conditions in the US over the last couple months which sometimes requires working from home. With mobile devices and high speed internet, our connections to co-workers and plants can continue in spite of adverse conditions. For today’s manufacturing plants, the amount of connected people, plants, data and things is growing exponentially and these connections need to perform reliably no matter the environmental conditions.
Cisco estimates that 50 billion new IP connections to be installed by 2022 will unlock trillions of dollars of business value for manufacturing. Cisco research estimates that only 4% of devices on the manufacturing floor are connected to a network. Thus, there is a huge industry push to connect all the islands of information that stand in the way of Internet of Things value creation. The challenges of deployment though are also very real – no one can afford to gamble on reliability or performance of their critical manufacturing processes and risk downtime or worse.