Cisco, Rockwell Automation release initial collaborative resources

Collaborative effort simplifies integration of plant floor and corporate networks to improve the flow and security of production information.

By Plant Engineering Staff October 24, 2007

Rockwell Automation has released resources for Reference Architectures for the manufacturing environment with Cisco. The Reference Architectures include design guides, white papers and an educational seminar series that addresses the technical and cultural convergence of manufacturing and IT.
These resources are intended to illustrate how using standard Ethernet technologies in IT and integrated manufacturing — including discrete, motion, process, batch, drive and safety applications — can help manufacturers establish highly secure information access on the manufacturing floor and across their enterprises.
The Reference Architectures offer detailed designs and best practice implementation guidance for a plant-wide or enterprise-wide architecture. They also bring together relevant applications, contemporary technologies and design principles that help decrease implementation costs and eliminate some of the guesswork related to deploying technology in manufacturing environments. A manufacturing advisory council identified the architectures as key to facilitating better collaboration between production operations and enterprise IT.
As part of the first phase of the Reference Architectures documents, the Design and Implementation Guide is based on Cisco’s “Ethernet to the Factory” solution and the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture. The guide outlines recommendations for implementing a cell/area zone architecture and describes design considerations for high availability. It also shares best practices for security, IP addressing and other important considerations for designing automation networks and integrating within the manufacturing enterprise to achieve greater visibility, better data integration, reduced costs and simplified management.
“The plant floor holds critical data that need to be connected to enterprise business systems for real-time production optimization and improved supply chain capabilities,” said Steve Eisenbrown, senior vice president, Rockwell Automation. “The technology is there in the form of EtherNet/IP and our software solutions, and Rockwell Automation and Cisco are committed to helping our joint customers use that technology to its fullest potential.”
“With this implementation guide, for the first time IT and manufacturing professionals can share a common document for planning a converged IP network including the factory floor and automation equipment,” said Harry Forbes, senior analyst at ARC Advisory Group. “I advise manufacturing operations that use Cisco and/or EtherNet/IP to get this document and to provide feedback for future phases of this Cisco/Rockwell Automation initiative.”
The Reference Architectures are part of an ongoing collaboration initiative between Rockwell Automation and Cisco. The two companies will continue to work closely with their customers to expand the Reference Architectures. The newly released Design and Implementation Guide joins other published documents identified by Rockwell Automation and Cisco that will help end users properly deploy networks. These documents include a Cisco-authored security white paper and white papers authored by ODVA member companies on the network infrastructure for EtherNet/IP, CIP networks using standard Ethernet, and switching and routing recommendations.
Rockwell Automation and Cisco announced their collaboration in April, making Rockwell Automation a Cisco industry solution partner in manufacturing. Rockwell Automation and Cisco also will hold a series of educational seminars, scheduled to begin later this year, to help organizations understand best practices for manufacturing-IT network convergence.