Manufacturing in the cloud: Part makers and IT get to business

By: James Anderton, Engineering.com – November 2, 2015

Machine connectivity with platforms like the Cloud allow manufacturers to collect large amounts of data in real time to isolate errors and improve machine performance.

ENGINEERING.com met with Chet Namboodri, global industry director at Cisco Systems at MAZAK Discover 2015 to talk about how Cisco’s collaboration with MAZAK Corporation and Memex Inc. will change the working dynamic between manufacturers and the software industry in automation.

See the video above and the Q&A below for highlights of the interview.

Jim Anderton (JA): Manufacturers have been a little reluctant to relinquish control of manufacturing processes to people from the software industry. I understand that the collaboration between MAZAK and Cisco changes that dynamic a little bit.

Chet Namboodri (CN): We’ve had a history of trying to enter into this space from the IT perspective. The differences in viewpoint between what we refer to as OT (Operations Technology) and IT has been a barricade to overcome for us.

Partnerships with companies like MAZAK enable that dialogue to occur because we have a common language that we are able to adopt together, based around a common problem we’re both trying to solve.

This is an opportunity to really level up all that control optimization that is taking place in the machines here at the MAZAK Discover 2015 event and level that into the system perspective.

So, by connecting a machine into a larger system, suddenly you’re able to optimize a much broader set of variables that are required for producing any type of parts within any type of environment.

Collaborations like what we’re having with MAZAK include a company called Memex Inc. We’re leveraging their software platform in order to provide for OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) level dashboards and information that we’re able to use for predictive analytics by focusing in on that problem.

With companies such as MAZAK, we’ve been able to drive that integration to not only technologies between the original OT and IP based technologies, but also organizationally and culturally – really coming together in terms of that language and the problems that we’re looking to solve.

We’ve really appreciated the opportunity that has arisen here with MAZAK and Memex and we’re happy to be part of the show.

JA: Closed loop controllers take the thinking out of the process as they’ve made it possible for less experienced operators to still get great results.

In terms of the information sharing of multiple machines and the flow of information in the central system, can a machine shop with 30 to 40 machines dedicate one human being just to analyze this data, or is that something the software can handle?

CN: Yes, more and more software can handle data analyses. The advantage that we have with the architecture with Cisco combined with the IT perspective is that we’re taking computing power all along that stream.

We’re able to take the computing power that’s local and do some analytics in conjunction with the information that we have from other machines, from the ERP, the suppliers and the ecosystem and then use that with local analytics that’s then done in conjunction with Cloud-based analytics.

We refer to that as Fog computing, like a lower level Cloud. There’s a lot of software out there that’s able to take advantage of the computing power locally and do it in conjunction with a Cloud-based system.

For more information, visit cisco.com.

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