Ethernet-enabled mobile communications reduces corporate travel

Ethernet communications streamline access into manufacturing operations and machinery. American Axle & Manufacturing regularly accesses 25 facilities globally via a Blackberry.


Ethernet communications streamline access into manufacturing operations and machinery. American Axle & Manufacturing regularly accesses 25 facilities globally via a Blackberry.Ethernet communications enable easier access to manufacturing operations and machinery. Jeff Smith, senior engineer, global controls architecture and manufacturing networks, American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), regularly accesses 25 facilities globally via a Blackberry. The browser-based window into processes, only accessible on a company-issued phone, has additional corporate security built in. Smith has used the interface to offer advice from his Southfield, Mich., location to a plant in Brazil, off hours.

The interface also has reduced corporate travel expenses. Instead of sending a team of five engineers to a site, American Axle now sends one, Smith said, with others available for online consultation if needed. Suppliers, if granted security access, can drill down to the machine level as well. These capabilities have been augmented by eliminating use of fieldbuses over the last five years, transitioning to use of Ethernet—from plant floor I/O connections to the enterprise, with help from Rockwell Automation and Cisco, he explained.

Key recommendations to getting the most from an industrial Ethernet implementation, according to information from Cisco Systems, Rockwell Automation, and Aberdeen Group:

  • Get executive sponsorship and ownership to improve industrial network and manufacturing operations performance.
  • Define and institutionalize a mechanism for standardizing and sharing industrial networking best practices.
  • Foster a culture of cross-collaboration among traditionally disparate groups.
  • Invest in network management tools for real-time network asset monitoring and utilization.
  • Focus improvement initiatives on getting greater visibility into manufacturing operations, with business context.
  • Expand the adoption of industrial Ethernet across all plants and convergence with enterprise business systems.

- Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, 

Control Engineering webcasts include more on Ethernet.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.