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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 78 / 95
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Rockwell's John Nesi talks about the Connected Enterprise at #autofairchat

The Connected Enterprise is a major topic at this year's Rockwell Automation Fair. During a Twitter Chat on October 23rd, Theresa Houck, editor of Rockwell Automation Journal, and John Nesi, VP of Market Development, talked about what Connected Enterprise means. Here are some of the questions and answers from this chat. A complete transcript is at the bottom of this page (if the Twitter Widget works as planned)

John Nesi, VP of Market Development, Rockwell Automation

Question: Connected Enterprise will be a major theme at Automation Fair. What does the Connected Enterprise mean to Rockwell Automation?

John Nesi: Connected Enterprise is seamless, secure connectivity between isolated production systems and processes through the value chain. Or to put it another way, Connected Enterprise is applying the Internet of Things to connect the plant floor with the enterprise. But it's far more expansive than connecting disparate systems and improving communications across an enterprise. It requires seamless, secure connection across an organisation and accessing real-time and historical data wherever it's being produced. While basic integration of info and infrastructure within manufacturing is approaching critical mass, there's still a lot of work to do. Only 14% of manufacturing executivesin a recent Industry Week survey say their plant-floor data is fully integrated with the enterprise. And only 1 in 10 respondents said <80% of plant-floor machinery (excluding computers) is Internet-enabled.

Question: It sounds like this vision will require serious committment. Will benefits really outweigh the challenges for manufacturers?

John Nesi: I truly believe they will. There's significant business value to be gained from the Connected Enterprise. The Connected Enterprise enables the plant of the future and supports collaboration among a more mobile workforce and secure access for remote monitoring. Adopting the vision of Connected Enterprise will improve planning, sharpen visibility into WIP and better manage risk. Improved use of operations data will increase productivity, improve asset utilization, and enable better decision making. Industrials will benefit from faster time to market, lower TCO, improve asset utilization and more effective risk management.

Question: So technology is propelling manifacturers toward the Connected Enterprise and the potential benefits are many, but there must be risks?

John Nesi: You're right. It's no secret that security is one of manufacturers biggest concerns surrounding the Connected Enterprise. Industrials are concerned with potential for loss of IP and many are reluctant to put plant info on the corporate intranet. There's also industrial sabotage. And the chance of an inadvertent data breach from employee carelessness. But a "head in the sand" attitude simply can't be the answer. Momentum driving the connectivity of things is only going to increase. And the pace is quickening. The world's moving towards an ever-expanding, interwoven electronic fabric - the Internet of Things. Sensor-equipped objects will surround us everywhere, including the plant, but rather than being directly connected to the internet, they'll communicate through simple wireless protocols. Unfortunately, each new connection brings cyber risks, posing a threat to individual parts and the larger network. This requires an industrial security strategy deeply entrenched within both the plant and the broader enterprise. We've laid out a security roadmap to help manufacturers create and implement a security policy that reaches to the device level whether it's a sensor on the plant floor or a smartphone in the field. Our vision contrasts with a more common approach of securing the plant and enterprise systems separately. We believe security isn't a one-time event, it's an ongoing threat-management practice, policy and culture.
(Ed. For more on Connected Enterprise security issues, see our article "Deploying secure industrial machine control networks")

Question: How can industrial firms reap the benefits of the connected enterprise securely?

John Nesi: There are 3 vital components: network infrastructure, working data capital & security.

Question: Tell us more about the networking component.

John Nesi: Industrial Ethernet, using standard Internet and Ethernet protocols, ties manufacturing data with the enterprise. Industrials should specify all devices use common network technology to communicate via an open an unmodified IP-centric infrastructure. EtherNet/IP is the world's leading open industrial Ethernet network. It was created to support interoperability and ensure seamless enterprise-wide connectivity within a single infrastructure. That means it can connect across systems and subsystems and from the IT infrastructure to the instrumentation level. E/IP uses the same Ethernet and TCP/IP protocol suite used for email, Internet and other commercial apps. This provides the performance, resilency & security of traditional fieldbus solutions.

Question: What are the most significant developments EtherNet/IP will bring to mfrers over the next decade?

John Nesi: I think there are four things: 1. Supply chain integration - industrials will gain greater insight into issues that can help optimize inventory management. 2. Collaborative, demand-driven. Connecting manifacturing operations with info systems means connecting cross-functional employees. This will empower staff to collaborate and work towards common goals. 3. Optimized for rapid value creation. Working data capital will be mined more effectively. The continued collection and distribution of these assets will drive ongoing improvements and best practices for plants globally. 4. Compliant and sustainable. Syncing business process and work flow can produce real-time and historcal data required for compliance. It also can give insight into sustainability metrics, to drive energy management effiencies.

Question from Industrial Ethernet Book: What are the likely synergies between Process & Factory Automation systems and what might they be?

John Nesi: The synergies are quite large because control system platforms behave similar to process platforms. The data generated is similar, so are the operational characteristics of the data and what they're trying to achieve with it . There are some uniqueness in processes that may be different than discrete, but processing in control systems and use of data at the raw control level is similar. In some industries with highly distributed assets (OG & mining) it's more important that remote monitoring be robust and secure. As a result there's a larger predominence of remote applications and it's well institutionalized in those industries.

Question from Industrial Ethernet Book: There are major federal invests in smart grid. Are there tech spin-offs applicable to Automation?

John Nesi: Yes! Our energy management philsophy is predicated on energy objects on the network - we anticipate they'll be grid compatible. As a result, managing energy will be a matter of course for automation suppliers. Protocols will be reconciled by standards groups for the grid and the factory. Regulatory agencies will come to conclusions on standards that impact automation and the grid. This applies to network protocols & network security policies.

Question from Industrial Ethernet Book: Where do you see the future role of wireless LAN based on IEEE802.11 in Factory and Process Automation?

John Nesi: In manufacturing, wireless has moved beyond what we'd call "convenient" ie. PC’s used for email, configuration, monitoring. Wireless now can be used for “mission critical” or real-time applications. Advances in IEEE 802.11N incl. MIMO, dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz radios & packet aggregation has increased speed, reliability, flexibility and segmentation, all needed in real-time applications. Now wireless solutions are for applications where running network cables is difficult, expensive, hard to maintain.

Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 78 / 95
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