The Internet of Things: That's the sticky label that the tech world has attached to the hyperconnected next phase we're entering in which virtually every thing on the plant floor -- every machine, every device -- is able to "talk" 24/7 with every other thing.
This "Things" thing is really starting to stir things up in manufacturing. Nowhere more so than in the workforce mix.
Roles are morphing fast as companies lay the groundwork to compete on the new playing field. New job functions are emerging. One new role that's likely to occupy a central spot in the Internet of Things-dominated universe is what's coming to be known as the industrial networking specialist. This is the person/department whose job will be to shape how traditional information technology and operations technology networks interact: how IT and OT talk to each other.
Cisco Systems (IW 500/26) and Rockwell Automation (IW 500/168) have been closely watching this next phase develop. The two companies are in the process of creating a new professional certification called Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist, and, as a corollary, they're launching a training course to prepare professionals in manufacturing and related fields to pass an exam that will bestow this new certification on them.
The training course, called Managing Industrial Networks with Cisco Networking Technologies, is a weeklong instructor-led lab-based program aimed at providing the fundamental skills needed to manage networked industrial control systems. The training will be offered at Rockwell Automation sites around the country from October through April.
The training program, which Cisco and Rockwell Automation say is the first of its kind, is designed to help control-system and traditional network engineers better understand the technologies needed to manage a hyperconnected industrial enterprise -- and thereby give those companies' decision makers better tools to enable them to make meaningful decisions in real time.
"The main idea with this course is to address the IT and OT convergence that's taking place in industrial manufacturing spaces," says Glenn Goldney, global business manager of workforce and training services for Rockwell Automation. "Cisco, with its expertise in networking, and Rockwell Automation, wi"th its expertise in the industrial space, have come together to recognize that this $14 trillion Internet of Things -- that's the forecasted number we've been seeing -- is going to impact the industrial manufacturing space in a big way."
In concrete terms, this "convergence conversion" translates into myriad new devices on the plant floor measuring processes and talking to each other continuously. And it will require a high degree of focused expertise to ensure that all of these machines and devices -- all of these "things" -- are merged smoothly into a seamless whole.
"How are all of these new devices going to provide executives with the kind of data that they need to make smart decisions about the assets installed on their plant floor?" Goldney says. "This course is designed to make sure that these newly certified industrial networking specialists have a firm grasp of everything they need to know in order to manage and administer these complex networks."
The Managing Industrial Networks with Cisco Networking Technologies course is open for enrollment, with 28 classes scheduled from October 2014 through April 2015. For more information, call 440-646-3434 or go to RockwellAutomation.com/training and click "Certificate Program."