At IoT World Forum in Chicago (October 2014), a revolutionary demonstration provided a clear vision on how to address pain points manufacturers face today by using intelligence, video, mobility and connectivity all over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. This unique demo not only showed a scaled down factory model with controller, I/O, network switches, software and servers but also included a functioning robot as well as connectivity to live feeds from remote plants and local wireless mobile users. The ‘hands on’ aspects and the comprehensive view of how factory data transforms productivity were well received by the attendees who could see how IT/OT (Internet Technology/Operational Technology) convergence has reached a real transition point. This demonstration will also be on display at the upcoming Automation Fair 2014 in Anaheim, California in the Cisco booth. This article will detail some of the key areas from this demo to consider as you plan your projects to connect your factory and enterprise.
A scalable, secure converged Plant network
Plant and control engineers typically are challenged with the following when pain points when designing and deploying their IT/OT architecture:
- Costs to run multiple dedicated networks for individual applications.
- Limited or expensive network capacity for video.
- Difficulties connecting supply chain as your move from build-to-stock to build-to-order.
- Scaling network capacity for huge growth in new EtherNet devices
- Downtime from obsolete systems
The demo showed how to address those pain points by leveraging the following following 7 technology pillars::
- Converged network: Everything on a converged IP network from the robot to drives to I/O and cameras
- Security: Holistic Trustsec defense-in-depth security with Cisco, ASA Firewalls and user based authentication.
- Fiber Ring: A REP ring with fiber optic links between switches offers fast network healover time and ability to scale. In this demonstration, a new switch is added to the ring and brought online in seconds with data updating in the software applications.
- Wireless: integrated wireless services for remote access and tablet connectivity
- Video – Cameras and live streams from remote sites, all on a converged IP network
- Virtualization of white box PCs – centralized management and high availability
- Enterprise Integration: IT grade servers, network switches and secure firewalls.
Value of a Connected Factory
Key drivers for leveraging power of the Internet of Things to transform:
- Pressure to accelerate new product introductions
- Inability to increase plant output, production speed, quality, uptime (OEE)
- High unplanned downtime
- Volatile energy costs, including high peak energy charges
- Need for continual worker productivity and safety growth
The demonstration showed how to address these drivers with Connected Factory and the power of IP communications:
- Adding new switching capacity with new I/O to an existing network with the REP ring, leveraging Stratix switches
- Safety I/O and control on the same converged network.
- Dashboards and OEE applications with visibility into plant with cameras
- Energy data from connected robot and variable frequency drives used to optimize energy usage.
- Predictive maintenance and remote expert capabilities to reduce downtime and improve planning and scheduling.
- Mobile access to dashboards and troubleshooting information for real time decision making
In summary, this demonstration using validated solutions from Cisco, Rockwell Automation, Fanuc, and Panduit showed the power that an eco-system can bring to enable real transformation in plant operations. The system integrator New Frontier Technologies that built and programmed this demo saw that the power of IP networks and Internet of Things is achievable today. By leveraging Cisco validated designs and ecosystem partner proven solutions, a more flexible platform for the plant is achieved that can be adopted now and truly revolutionize the value derived from a plant network.