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Preventative maintenance could be killer IoT app for factories

Steve Rogerson
July 19, 2016

Preventative maintenance will become the killer application for the IoT in industry, according to Chuck Robbins, Cisco CEO, speaking at this month’s Cisco Live in Las Vegas.
“As we see the first wave of these industrial devices being connected to the internet, preventative maintenance will be the killer app,” said Robbins (pictured).
And Cisco’s global sales manager Doug Bellin added: “The IoT is an enabler across manufacturing, oil and gas, and smart grid customers. It is about data acquisition and delivering intelligence to where it is needed.”
He said a lot of Cisco’s focus had been on the factory environment, some in just base line connectivity and some in the analytics.
“Manufacturing is just scratching the surface,” he said, “but implementing IoT has been fairly successful in green-field opportunities. It is harder to come into a factory that is 20 years old. However, there are only so many new factories being built.”
That said, a lot of larger companies have installed the infrastructure and other factories have found that wireless can save money over wired connections when retooling as there is less installation involved.
“And once they replace the wired with wireless, they look at what else they can use the wireless for,” said Bellin. “They can look at getting factory information on mobile devices. The cost of this is minimal once they have wireless in place.”
Security, he said, in factories was “incredibly important”, both for protecting IP and from a safety standpoint.
“It is not just stopping data getting in but stopping data going to the wrong locations,” he said.
In manufacturing, he said the number one priority was runtime, which was why monitoring machinery to enable preventative maintenance was a key application.
Cisco, he said, was working with key factory automation companies such as Honeywell, Rockwell and Siemens to look at the data formats they produce so that products such as the recently launched ISA3000 industrial security appliance can analyse the data to know which are good and which are bad.
“In the US, Rockwell is the number one, in Europe it is Siemens,” said Bellin. “We have to work with them all. We understand there are different markets with different needs.”
As to which wireless network, Bellin said that even though LoRa was supported at the moment, it would be “fairly easy” to add Sigfox at a later date. He also said a lot of manufacturing companies had dual systems that supported cellular and wireless technologies.