To help their users and customers survive in the present and thrive in the future, a trio of Rockwell Automation's
technical experts and partners delivered a series of presentations this week at the Manufacturing Perspectives press event leading up to Automation Fair 2012
One of the cornerstones enabling the flexibility of manufacturing so crucial to the operations of many of Rockwell Automation's manufacturing customers is the company's long and fruitful partnership with Cisco Systems. Maciej Kranz, vice president and general manager of the Connected Industries Group at Cisco, and Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and CTO at Rockwell Automation, jointly reported how they're striving to make flexible production and cloud-computing services more mobile and secure.
"Research shows about 63% of companies are allowing staffers to bring smart phones and other mobile devices onto their plant floors to allow access to information and aid in collaboration, but at the same time about $60 billion is being spent on cybersecurity," said Kranz. "So as connected apps drive enterprise convergence, there's more need for security too."
Chand explained, "The sheer volume of production data is so great that many users are drowning in it, and this isn't helped by all the proprietary formats they have to deal with. What they need is to bring actionable information out of all that data. Fortunately, enhanced connectivity is continuing to evolve, and the key enabler is open, standard Ethernet. In fact, together we've been using our joint Reference Architecture to develop and produce the switches and access points to bring more Ethernet to the plant floor, and then securely connect it to the enterprise level, back-end business networks and supply chains."
Chand added that Rockwell Automation and Cisco's efforts on improving Ethernet networking have inevitably brought it to cloud computing. "The cloud is allowing users to move legacy information and data processing from hardware to virtual systems, which allows greater mobility, improves analytics and optimization, and enables the factory of the future. However, these must be assisted by perimeter security, VPNs and firewalls, threat identification and cloud-based security infrastructures, which can give users the converged, secure networks they need for successful and safe collaboration."
In fact, Rockwell Automation and Cisco have just launched the Stratix 5900 secure Ethernet router and have been helping the ODVA organization develop the CIP Energy protocol to help users actively manager energy use and build more energy-aware machines. "Energy is becoming another loop that can be managed in controllers and control systems, and CIP Energy can help them identify and take advantage of times when their equipment can run in lower-power modes, and find many other opportunities for greater productivity and sustainability."
Amplifying Flexible Production
For example, Ford Motor Co. is using several strategies—including Rockwell Automation solutions—to complete its "One Ford" program, which is transforming it from many regional divisions into one team with one plan and one goal. It's accomplishing this ambitious project by implementing common, consistent standards in the Ford Production System (FPS) at many of its 70 plants worldwide in order to give its customers the vehicles they want most.
"Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Ford's plan is to offer its models with a host of propulsion options, including high-efficiency gas and diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric," said Peter Daenen, chief body construction engineer (BCE) in the Vehicle Operations Management (VOM) division at Ford South America. "This allows significant flexibility in the face of changing market demands."