Pulling the plug: Cisco and Emerson team on industrial wireless solutions for process manufacturers
"When Emerson first approached me with their industrial wireless solution, they said, 'We're plug-and-play,' recalls Tim Gerami, senior design engineer at PPG. "I have to admit I laughed; nothing I'd seen so far was that easy. But I'm a believer now."
Cisco Systems is continuing its campaign to be a leading supplier of hardware for plant-floor networks by announcing plans to work with Emerson Process Management on platforms that can support wireless production-management applications for process-oriented manufacturers.
The alliance is expected to produce solutions that combine Cisco wireless networking equipment with Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology and Emerson process management applications.
Emerson calls its Smart Wireless networks “self-organizing” because they employ a mesh networking approach that allows all access points in a network to communicate with one another. That means when something—such as a set of metal pipes running through a plant—obstructs a signal traveling to an access point in one direction, the signal immediately locates an open path to a different access point.
Emerson executives claim this approach has produced wireless networks in which better than 99 percent of the data transmitted reaches its intended destination. They say it also allows for extending process-management networks into areas that previously were physically out of reach or too expensive to
Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries relies on Emerson Smart Wireless technology to monitor the temperature of pipelines and steam headers at a 765-acre chemical processing plant in Lake Charles, La. The plant's Smart Wireless network uses Rosemount transmitters to enable operators to watch for cold spots and adjust steam throughput. PPG also plans to use the Smart Wireless solutions to do temperature profiling of the entire plant, enabling load sharing and balancing to maintain superheated steam plantwide.
“When Emerson first approached me with their industrial wireless solution, they said 'We're plug-and-play,' recalls
John Berra, president of Emerson Process Management, says teaming with Cisco will allow Emerson to improve the security and reliability of its wireless networks, in addition to making them even easier to install.
"Since introducing Smart Wireless networks a year ago, we've been excited at the high customer interest and their quickly realized business results," Berra said when announcing the Cisco alliance. “We are pleased to be working with Cisco to enhance our offering. Cisco's commitment to open standards makes it an ideal partner for Emerson and our customers."
Cisco’s contribution to the alliance comes in the form of its Unified Wireless solutions, which comprise:
Teaming with Emerson on solutions specifically for the process industries is the latest in a number recent steps Cisco has taken to raise its profile on the operational side of manufacturing enterprises. The company is well known as a leading supplier of equipment for connecting corporate networks.
In addition to its work with Emerson, Cisco’s overtures to production executives include collaborating with Rockwell Automation on production management solutions that run on Ethernet-based networks.
Cisco's work in this area has entailed:
On the wireless side, Emerson and Cisco have devised a services plan to design, specify, install, and support wireless solutions for process-oriented manufacturers.
"By delivering a combined wireless architecture from Emerson and Cisco, we are enabling our process manufacturing customers to deploy flexible, scalable, and safe wireless solutions and mobility applications in rugged plant environments," says Maciej Kranz, VP of product marketing for Cisco’s wireless business unit.
Emerson will take on project management responsibilities for all customers wishing to adopt a joint Emerson-Cisco wireless solution.
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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey