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Follow Four Core Tactics To Build A Connected Enterprise

Johnn Nesi
 John Nesi
Vice President
Market Development
 Rockwell Automation
Several initiatives around the world–from the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition and Industrie 4.0 in the west, to Made in China 2025 and Manufacturing Innovation 3.0 in the east–are pursuing nearly unlimited opportunities for manufacturers to improve their operations, create new value and address issues like the skilled-labor shortage.
For example, manufacturers are using embedded machinery intelligence to predict equipment failures and improve productivity. They’re using remote-access capabilities to monitor multiple machines simultaneously from a centralized location, helping them better utilize labor. They’re extending this greater connectivity and information sharing outside their production walls to better track and coordinate supply chain activities. And they’re using contemporary cloud technologies to change business models and build new revenue streams.
But while some manufacturers have embraced smart manufacturing and are already reaping the benefits, most have much work ahead of them.
Only 11% of manufacturers have implemented a strategy to apply Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to production processes, according to a recent survey by The MPI Group.About half of manufacturers said they are struggling with defining and implementing an IoT strategy.
Adoption of key enabling technologies is an essential part of a smart-manufacturing approach. This includes leveraging the IoT, an ever-growing proliferation of connected “smart” devices, to better understand quality, efficiency, security and safety. It also includes the strategic use of cloud computing, mobility and data analytics.
While most manufacturers are not yet prepared to deploy smart manufacturing technologies, they see opportunities for using them. According to the MPI study, the top five objectives manufacturers identified for incorporating the IoT into their operations are: improved product quality, increased speed of operations,  manufacturing costs, improved maintenance and uptime, and improved information for business analytics.
Achieving these objectives requires an integrated architecture and a strategy for using smart manufacturing technologies. Specifically, manufacturers must converge their Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) systems into a single, unified network infrastructure and identify opportunities for using IoT technologies that enable seamless connectivity and information sharing across people, processes and things.
Manufacturers also need to ensure they can efficiently manage their greater abundance of data in ways that helps them make better, faster business decisions. This includes using IoT device intelligence, cloud connectivity and data analytics all together to help manage the large data sets required for balancing production activities based on upstream inventories and downstream demand.
Rockwell Automation calls this The Connected Enterprise, which can be built by focusing on four core tactics:

Increasing Quality and Productivity

New technologies allow manufacturers to gather intelligence to address product variations and defects as they happen, and to optimize productivity in real time.

Improving Decision-Making

Better decision-making in a Connected Enterprise begins with working data capital. Mine data to spot operational strengths and weaknesses, improve production systems and establish new goals.

Establishing Safe and Reliable Operations

Smart manufacturing provides new opportunities for achieving safe, compliant and reliable operations. It lets manufacturers gather real-time data on equipment status and exceptions that could cause operations to become unsafe or unreliable.

Securing the Infrastructure

Greater information availability and more connection points can introduce greater risk to manufacturing environments in the form of internal and external threats. But that shouldn’t prevent manufacturers from tapping the benefits of smart manufacturing.
Rather, manufacturers should build a robust and secure networking infrastructure built on standard and unmodified Ethernet.
The huge potential of smart manufacturing  all begins with establishing a Connected Enterprise as the foundation for information sharing. 

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