Case History: SugarCreek Beefs Up For Wired Plant Status

As SugarCreek renovates a food plant, Cisco wires it for the industrial internet of things.

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technologySugarCreek is a 49-year-old processor of bacon, meatballs, sausage patties and chicken for both foodservice and retail. It's just finishing up a gut-rehab of a brownfield plant, a 70,000-sq.-ft. facility acquired from a bankrupt food processor in Cambridge City, Ind., which has been expanded to 418,000 sq. ft. While the new equipment, floors and walls are apparent, less obvious is the considerable investment in technology.

As a result, one of the key architects is SugarCreek's chief information officer. Ed Rodden quickly points out he has spent as much time on the business side as on IT, and that he's no "IT guy."

He does, however, see the huge potential of data gathering and analysis at many more points than are taken advantage of by most companies. And he sees the new Indiana facility as a blank canvas on which to paint his vision of a futuristic food plant, one that uses that catchy phrase "industrial internet of things" (IIoT) to tie together the galaxy of sensors and other devices that make up many modern plants.

"To us, IIoT means the ability to use all the available pieces of data, including video and security, from all kinds of devices and to tie them all together in such a way that's useful to the business," he says.

Sugar Creek already was a Cisco customer before the processor embarked on the Cambridge City project. Before he started on the rehab, Rodden made a visit to Cisco's San Jose, Calif., headquarters, which opened his eyes to the potential breadth of tying all this data together in automated, immediate and actionable ways.

SugarCreek officials and IoT architects from Cisco Services analyzed the SugarCreek use cases and brainstormed technical solutions that would address the needs. The companies conducted technical proofs of concept and validated the ROI of the proposed platforms prior to deploying them. Cisco Services was responsible for program-managing the technology deployment at the factory.

Rodden and R.J. Mahadev, Cisco's IoT Service Solutions lead, will semi-literally "walk" attendees through a plant visit that contains some surprises in a presentation at the Smart Industry Conference & Expo Oct. 5-7 in Chicago. By the way, all the parenthetical references (CXS Architecture, IC, VSOM, etc.) refer to Cisco products that are explained in the glossary at the end of this story.

The night before

Their "plant tour scenario" starts the evening before a customer is scheduled to visit the facility. The plant manager receives a call at home from the second shift superintendent to explain an issue that arose at the plant.

To better explain, the superintendent opens a Webex session with the plant manager and shares video being captured (via CXS Architecture, Librestream) of the issue on the plant floor. "This allows the plant manager to fully understand the issue and give appropriate responses," Rodden explains.

That same evening, the salesperson who's bringing in the customer attempts to make contact with a night supervisor on a Jabber session from home to verify that all of the preparations are complete and the plant is ready. Getting no response, the salesperson calls the night supervisor on his radio (IC) and reaches him on the plant floor.

The supervisor grabs a VDI mobile device with video capability from the plant QA office, signs in, establishes a Jabber session with the salesperson and promotes the Jabber session to a Webex, taking the salesperson on a “walking tour” showing him that preparations are complete and everything is ready.

When they end the session, the salesperson schedules a greeting to be displayed in the lobby at the appropriate time using Digital Signage.

The morning of the visit

The plant manager has alerted security at the gate that a customer and salesperson will be arriving. He also sets up an event notice with physical security to send him a notification when the salesperson’s badge is read at the gate.

Upon their arrival at the gate, the salesperson checks in with the guard, who assigns a guest badge as an “in” swipe. That creates a guest account and prints a sticker with the login info to be attached to the badge.

The salesperson uses his card to open the gate, which triggers an email notification to the plant manager that they have arrived. This also triggers video surveillance to begin tracking the identity card of the salesperson (VSOM). Any time his card is read in an area, the surveillance footage is tagged allowing the plant manager to visually see where his visitors are.

The company's chairman decides to join the visit and arrives at the gate using his key card to enter. Once his presence is recognized, content from various media outlets he monitors is spun up to displays surrounding his desk and his local devices (ECDS). A notification is sent to the admin group at the plant notifying them that the chairman has arrived.

As the salesperson enters the lobby with his customer, the plant manager greets them and gets them temporary security badges, which also makes the visitors visible to RTLS. If the plant manager had been delayed, the visitors would have used a Jabber-driven kiosk to notify the admin group of their arrival.

The customer is instructed that he may connect to a visitors' wireless network. ISE presents an acceptance page to the visitor to allow basic inspection of his wireless device and access to the internet through the plant's network. He accepts, the device meets the criteria and he is now connected.

The tour begins

After properly preparing with gowns, etc., they enter the plant floor to observe the process for the product the customer is buying. The customer's temporary card allows access to only the main office area, restrooms and certain other areas (CPAM), so he must be escorted by someone with access into other areas.

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