In a so-called Zero Down Time effort, Fanuc has worked with Cisco, connecting its robots to the Cisco cloud with Cisco Intercloud Fabric (see weblinks at end of article for more information), remotely monitoring the robots, proactively detecting potential equipment or process problems, and reducing unplanned downtime. The cost of downtime can be more than $20,000/minute, with a single unplanned downtime event costing a manufacturer $2 million, according to Rick Schneider, CEO of Fanuc America.

In a 12-month pilot project with GM involving an assembly plant paint robot application, the Cisco solution dramatically reduced production downtime and increased overall equipment effectiveness. Indeed, Fanuc picked up one of five of GM’s first-ever Innovation awards for this Zero Down Time (ZDT) application. Fanuc was also named supplier of the year for the 11th year running.

ZDT sees Cisco switching, security and computing technologies embedded in Fanuc machines. Aggregated data devices analyse big data onsite before transmitting relevant results to the Cisco cloud. Out-of-range exceptions automatically trigger notifications to Fanuc service personnel.

At the time of the GM supplier event last June, Fanuc had reportedly installed ZDT in thousands of robots across 27 GM factories in five countries. In addition to failure analysis, ZDT keeps track of robot usage and sends reminders to staff to ensure on-time maintenance is performed on specific robots at GM’s facilities.

Said Fanuc’s Schneider: “The ability to collect data from our robots and analyse it in the cloud and to predict potential equipment issues before downtime occurs allows us to proactively address our customer’s needs.”

Using ZDT, Fanuc can collect data generated from robots to determine how to optimise GM’s manufacturing systems by reducing energy consumption, extending equipment life and improving cycle time and product quality.

Said Bryan Tantzen, senior director at Cisco IoT Vertical: “With the Fanuc ZDT solution, the robot is connected through a network and a Cisco data collector in the plant through to the Cisco cloud – all resulting in a sound and highly secure solution.

“By transferring the equipment data through a secure platform to the Cisco Cloud, Cisco and Fanuc are building a manufacturing data highway, which will allow GM to collaborate with their large ecosystem of equipment suppliers and more easily perform preventive analytics and optimisation with their equipment.”

Regarding reduced service response times more generally, by the end of 2019, Fanuc aims to have a six-hour, on-site ‘start the fix’ response time, operating 24/7 all year round, globally. Speaking to Machinery, Fanuc’s UK managing director, Tom Bouchier, said the company was aiming to get to 10-12 hours next year. This ambition is incorporated within the company’s ‘Service first’ ethos, an internal drive to exceed customer expectations.

  • Fanuc will soon be moving to its new UK home on the Ansty Park, Coventry, to a new 56,000 ft2 design, manufacturing and training facility that boasts 43,000 ft2 of offices and an 8,000 ft2 showroom area. It will boast four training suites versus its current one, allowing it to not only undertake more but also broaden its training offer.