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In This Case Study

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Problem 

A leading Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturer came to World Wide Technology (WWT) with an urgent request to develop a plant network for a new production facility. The plant network architecture needed to address their current challenges and support the organization's long-term growth goals. Like many manufacturers, they faced an ever-evolving physical production footprint and required an infrastructure that would support today's build-to-order production needs while enabling future transformative technologies to enhance customer and workforce experiences. In addition, industrial environments are gradually becoming rich targets for cyber threats. As a result, the customer requested a network that was both secure and resilient. 

As data is now the new digital currency required to propel manufacturers into the next decade, advanced networks like this can allow for seamless real-time data flow from the production floor to plant management and corporate leadership. Starting with virtual prototyping and computer-aided design, precise specifications and data for each vehicle can seamlessly flow between applications. This allows for the integration of front office systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), with production-ready instructions for Manufacturing Execution Systems, enabling a smooth operation from order to delivery. The critical component to enabling this data flow is a secure and resilient network from WWT.

The plant network is the backbone of real-time production operations – supporting a variety of teams, including engineering and design, assembly, paint, body, battery systems, physical security, supply chain and logistics. With an aggressive growth plan in place, the manufacturer required network standardization that would scale and reduce long-term design efforts, create a standard for easy integration with various industrial OEM solutions and simplify support across multiple locations.

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Solution

To support the overall needs of the company, WWT's solution incorporated Enterprise and Plant Network Architecture, wired and wireless Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), Network Access Control (NAC) and Network Segmentation. Consideration was given to the specific needs of the production environment through the development of a technology plan that spanned both corporate enterprise and production operations. WWT, in partnership with large industrial systems integrator Rovisys, designed and implemented an integrated technology architecture spanning "top floor to shop floor." 

As part of the engagement, WWT created a Functional Design Specification (FDS) that can be utilized for all the manufacturing plants around the globe. This ensures that a documented network architecture is the blueprint for standard global support, technology refreshes and successful product lifecycle management. The FDS document serves as a reference document and will be updated as advances in technology occur and the client's needs change over time. 

As part of the FDS, WWT delivered:

  • Fault-tolerant, scalable wired and wireless network infrastructure.
  • Software-defined WAN infrastructure.
  • Industrial demilitarized zone for services shared between enterprise and manufacturing.
  • Network segmentation standards.
  • Plant cybersecurity, including firewalls and identity access management.

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Results

By deploying a Converged Plantwide Network design, WWT and our ecosystem of partners delivered an infrastructure that was scalable, reliable and secure. The network design also delivered business agility, optimization of production and minimized complexity and risk. 

The end-to-end solution helped drive:

  • Production Uptime - No single point of failure in the production network.
  • Yield Optimization – Production of more vehicles by ensuring availability of critical systems.
  • Operational Efficiency - Infrastructure visibility reduces the frequency and duration of unplanned outages.
  • Secure Operations - Segmentation between the Enterprise and Plant Networks ensures continued production during the breach of Enterprise Systems.
  • Problem Mitigation – Standardized infrastructure design for better supportability.
  • Workforce Efficiency – Wireless infrastructure to support workforce mobility within the production facility.
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