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Joe Kann


Vice President, Global Business Development Rockwell Automation SME Member Since 1984


SME SPEAKS GUEST EDITORIAL Transforming Manufacturing through the Connected Enterprise W


e live in the Information Age, so it’s likely no surprise that the greatest opportunity that exists for manufacturers today is to more effectively use


the information that exists across their operations. However, they can only capture and put to work the true value of their information if they can access it when and how they need it. The best way to accomplish this is through the conver- gence of information technology (IT) and operations technol- ogy (OT) systems. In this context, IT includes a manufac- turer’s essential business systems, such as ERP, logistics and CRM, with a core focus on the continued availability of transactional data to manage supply chains, process customer orders and track product quality. OT includes a manufacturer’s full array of industrial equipment, such as controllers, machines and devices. It relies on uninterrupted, real-time data to control and monitor operations around the clock and sometimes the world, as well as to support critical safety and security systems within a plant. IT and OT both have their own unique origins within the manufacturing and business environments, respectively. As a result, they have evolved to become two separate entities, with differing cultures, goals and technology specifi cations. The Connected Enterprise is changing that. It breaks down the barriers that have long existed between IT and OT—driven by the use of an open and standard IP network architecture, such as EtherNet/IP, and by key enabling tech- nologies, including virtualization, mobility and the Internet of Things. In doing so, it creates new opportunities for improved performance and uptime.


What kind of opportunities? For one, The Connected Enterprise can more easily connect expertise across workers, regardless of where they’re located, for better collabora- tion and faster time to market. It can also lower total cost of ownership and improve asset utilization through improved


energy management, simplifi ed technology migration and better equipment life-cycle management. It can also enable the capturing and viewing of information, both real-time and historical, from virtually anywhere in an operation to help drive out ineffi ciencies and improve enterprise risk management. A 2014 ARC Insights report, Today’s Knowledge Work- ers Require Common Actionable Context, illustrates how the greater presence of data—combined with the appropriate dissemination of that data—can help make operations more effective even as employee demographics change. Specifi - cally, the report discussed the importance of getting the right information to the right workers in the right context. “Operators, shift supervisors, production superintendents, operations managers, and engineers all make decisions that impact operations,” the report said. “However, many do not have access to the timely, easily understood, contextualized information they need to either prevent or mitigate an abnor- mal condition or take advantage of an opportunity.” The report recommended that manufacturers deploy in- novative approaches that can help both retain and add to the collective knowledge and understanding within a plant, and stated that context will be critical to replacing insights lost as workers retire.


The Connected Enterprise gives manufacturing employ- ees access to data that previously was either unavailable or trapped in their operations. These data are drawn from smart assets within The Connected Enterprise, such as controllers, machines and production lines, and then contextualized and delivered to employees based on their specifi c roles, em- powering them with actionable information related to asset health, throughput and energy usage. Automation solution providers supporting manufacturers in the metalworking industry are already taking advantage of The Connected Enterprise to enhance their offerings. The


September 2015 | AdvancedManufacturing.org 21


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