Italian Wine, Schneider Electric and the Internet of Things …

Sometimes this job is very cool.  As I write this, I’m sitting in a little coffee shop near the Duomo in Milan, Italy having a glass of Amarone and some Chocolate Panna Cotta.  Amarone is a very special Italian wine, as I’ve learned, because of the way the grapes are treated after the harvest.  They are dried for several months before starting their journey to my glass.  The result is a very special wine of higher alcohol content than usual.  (Amarone means “the Great Bitter” in Italian) As I enjoy this glass, I’m reflecting on the entire process of creating this wine, from the weather affecting the vineyard through the harvesting, drying, fermentation, ageing and bottling and how this is a textbook example of the Internet of Things in action.

panna cotta with wine glass

This past week, our team from Schneider Electric was at Cisco LIVE Europe, exhibiting in the Internet of Things Pavilion.  The Schneider  Electric team demonstrated several of our Smart Cities solutions as well as having the converged infrastructure  Flexpod Express on display at the kiosk.  Cisco and Schneider Electric have been partners for several years and the Internet of Things is propelling that relationship into new areas and new customers.  The area of wine production was not one of the applications that would have come to mind immediately before the show!

If you think about what the internet of things really is, it’s about real-life everyday objects having an Internet Protocol (IP) address and, therefore, being able to provide data about that object and the environment where it is living.  In a vineyard, as an example, think of sensors in the soil and air, monitoring temperature, humidity, rainfall and pH.  All this data is critical to understanding when to harvest the grapes at the peak of maturity.  Now extend this environment of sensors into the actual wine production plant where grape yields are calculated and the wine fermentation and production processes are automated and controlled.  All of this data allows the vineyard to become more efficient with their “cash crop” and ultimately will lead to better wine quality and quantity.   It’s a classic example of sensing the physical environment and passing that data into an IT system that can monitor and control the process.

This is where Schneider Electric and Cisco align for a natural partnership.  Schneider Electric represents this physical environment, whether it is a vineyard, a datacenter, a factory floor, a gold mine or a steel production plant.  Schneider Electric’s sensors and automation solutions are present, creating data about the physical environment and passing that data over a Cisco IP network to an IT system for management and control.  Schneider Electric and Cisco bridge the gap between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT).  The partnership brings a complete solution to a varied set of customers from traditional factory automation solutions all the way to the production of that perfect glass of Amarone.  The joint solutions create efficiencies for our customers that can be measured in higher quality or quantity of production at a more efficient cost.  In turn, the end user receives a higher quality solution at a better value than they previously could.

The Internet of Things will continue to touch many aspects of our daily lives in the next 20 years. Before my trip to Cisco LIVE Europe, I was aware of factory automation and other more traditional solutions.  The internet of Things affecting my glass of Amarone?  Who knew?  Yes, I’ll have another.  Grazie.

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