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Rockwell and Cisco promise to unite office and factory networks

09 May, 2007

Rockwell Automation and the networking giant Cisco have agreed to work together to integrate Ethernet-based manufacturing and IT (information technology) networks to allow seamless connections throughout businesses. They will collaborate to draw up detailed design guidelines on the use of common networking technologies across production and enterprise networks.

The move was triggered by a meeting that the two companies held with representatives of some of their major manufacturing customers at which they were told of some of industry’s frustrations with existing technologies. They were told, for example, about the difficulty of deploying current networking technologies and of the need for better information flows not only between manufacturers’ factory floors and offices, but also between manufacturers and their customers.

The manufacturers also complained, for example, that the IEEE’s Power-over-Ethernet standard was based on the 48V DC telecommunications standard rather than the 24V DC more commonly used in factories.

"Customers are telling us they want linked reference architectures supporting both the office network environment and the factory floor," says Cisco’s vice-president of enterprise marketing, Paul McNab.

"As manufacturers move into a global business climate that demands the integration of manufacturing operations and business systems, collaboration must move beyond hype to become a commonplace reality," warns Craig Resnick, research director at the ARC Advisory Group.

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