Adapting to Industry 4.0 in Manufacturing

Jordan Noonan

Prior to the pandemic, manufacturing as an industry was well on the way to transformation with the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as robotics, automation, AR/VR, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Nonetheless, the recent disruption of various supply chains has only reaffirmed the need to compress the timeframe for digital transformation. How manufacturers adapt—and how quickly—will differentiate the survivors from the rest. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three ways the Cisco Meraki platform helps facilitate transformation.

Harness Wi-Fi 6 for the IIoT 

One key component of digital transformation that smart factories are embracing is the IIoT, where everything from robots to forklifts to tooling carts are being connected to networks. This connectivity centralizes control, increases visibility, and leverages analytics to improve efficiency, reduce downtime, and make smarter predictions. With so many wireless devices requiring network access, providing a strong Wi-Fi 6 foundation is critical to ensuring consistent and high-performance IIoT deployments. Also known as the 802.1ax standard, Wi-Fi 6 has the potential to increase average throughput—per user—by a factor of four. This grants manufacturers the raw material (throughput) they need to fully harness the promise of IIoT.

Monitor Smart Factories with MT Environmental Sensors

Sensor technologies have allowed manufacturers to take advantage of big data to improve manufacturing processes, predict failure, and ultimately improve the efficiency of modern smart factories. Meraki recently grew their platform to include environmental sensors as a standard component of network deployments. Meraki MT is a family of environmental sensors (indoor temperature/humidity, indoor leak, door open/close) that provide real-time remote visibility and monitoring to help protect assets and facilities 24/7. We imagine this technology to be initially deployed in IT closets, ensuring that critical infrastructure uptime is maintained—but there’s no reason to stop there. Wherever manufacturers need to monitor environmental conditions, Meraki can help by simplifying the setup process. MT environmental sensors can be provisioned in seconds, as they are battery-powered and use Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points. And MV smart cameras connect through the network for quick-and-easy deployment.

Become Adaptable with Ecosystem Partners 

To thrive, the modern manufacturer needs to be able to innovate and scale against the backdrop of a complex global supply chain. They must also be able to respond to disruptive external pressures, and do so quickly. Meraki makes it easy to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. With the help of open APIs, paired with a community of technology partners, Meraki can support a huge array of potential use cases outside traditional networking arenas. For example, one such ecosystem partner, Skyfii, enables your Meraki Wi-Fi network to measure visitor and asset movement patterns. Then, you can utilize those patterns to send relevant communications via captive portal, email, SMS, or app push notifications. Skyfii integrates with Meraki MV Cameras to provide reporting and alerting on visitor flow, occupancy, queue times, heatmaps, and congestion. 

Skyfii also integrates with Meraki MT sensors to optimize visitor experiences within your venues. Skyfii correlates the visitor behavioral patterns observed from Meraki Wi-Fi and MV Cameras with changes to environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity metrics from MT Sensors.  

The network has always been about providing connectivity. Without a strong foundation of connectivity, manufacturers will be slow to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies.

Are you ready for Industry 4.0? Contact us for help. As a Cisco Meraki partner, we have a full understanding of the technology you need to create a manufacturing IT and OT ecosystem that will withstand the test of time. 

Jordan specializes in creating in-person and online sales enablement programs that empower colleagues and partners to be their best self in front of our customers. Jordan has developed enablement programs from the ground up, including workforce needs assessment, curricula design, technology implementation, teambuilding, and train-the-trainer workshops. Jordan’s programs have trained thousands of corporate staff, managers, and executives across all flavors of sales and often into other departments as well.