Cisco and Rockwell Automation to integrate manufacturing and IT for seamless connectivity

April 16, 2007
Cooperation on reference architectures and market education results in best practices for global manufacturers leveraging EtherNet/IP standard networking technologies.

HANNOVER, GERMANY— Rockwell Automation and Cisco announced today at the Hannover Messe they are working together to help manufacturers achieve the visibility, flexibility and collaboration necessary in today's global manufacturing environment, through optimized network integration across the factory floor and throughout the enterprise, using standard Ethernet technology.

Based on feedback from customers, Rockwell Automation and Cisco are collaborating on their common technology view, building reference architectures using standard networking technologies such as EtherNet/IP, and providing market education to enable people and process optimization.

Rockwell Automation and Cisco are working together on reference architectures and detailed design guidelines for the use of common networking technologies across the production and enterprise network. They are building reference architectures using standard networking technologies such as EtherNet/IP, and providing market education to enable people and process optimization.

The collaboration between Rockwell Automation and Cisco was formed to help leverage common open technology with security and reliability, while meeting the varied requirements across functions for an optimized networking solution — a desire strongly expressed by the companies' joint customers.

"Customers are telling us they want linked reference architectures supporting both the office network environment and the factory floor," said Paul McNab, vice president of Enterprise Marketing for Cisco. "Both plant and IT managers need secure, real-time visibility between the production floor and enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management systems. This network architecture will allow manufacturers to achieve real-time visibility with a secure control network using Ethernet."

Mark Wylie, technology partner manager for Cisco says the collaboration has been driven in part by a need for education. "We want to help manufacturers learn how they can set up a system and scale it as their needs change. What customers tell us is 'We are comfortable with Ethernet as technology, but help us understand how we can set up a VLAN and how we can use that to ensure that controls can stay on their own segment and still communicate with the rest of the enterprise."

Integration of network standards requires both contemporary technology and a mutual understanding of the issues and challenges facing IT and manufacturing environments. According to customer feedback, establishing dialogue between the two departments is key to better understanding of potential risks for each and, ultimately, to successful network integration.

Based on their respective knowledge of manufacturing and IT cultures, Rockwell Automation and Cisco will hold a series of educational seminars to help organizations implement change by establishing best practices between IT and manufacturing.

Rockwell Automation and Cisco are leading members of ODVA — an international association comprising members from the world's leading automation companies who support network technologies using the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), including EtherNet/IP. EtherNet/IP uses standard, unmodified Ethernet and CIP. By bringing together CIP capabilities, EtherNet/IP enables companies to integrate automation equipment, simplifying the overall system architecture and enabling direct communication between enterprise and factory floor devices.