Nosbusch Growing Rockwell Automation's ‘Control Footprint’

"The convergence of discrete and process, information and control is a game-changing opportunity.”

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Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO Keith Nosbusch opened Tuesday’s media-only Manufacturing Perspectives sessions at Rockwell Automation's Automation Fair 2007 this week in Chicago with a keynote address describing the company’s 2007 economic performance and its plans for the future.

Nosbusch aspires to fill bigger shoes as he explained Rockwell Automation’s strategy to expand its geographic and industry-domain footprints. With around 14,000 people from more than 70 countries expected to attend this week’s event, leveraging international markets is a key consideration for Rockwell Automation.

Despite deceleration of manufacturing growth in North America, Nosbusch expects Rockwell Automation to build upon its 10% 2007 revenue growth and 24% ROIC through further geographic expansion to meet customer demand in Europe and emerging markets. “For 2008, economists expect global growth rates to be solid, but at a slower rate,” said Nosbusch.

“The convergence of discrete and process, information and control is a game-changing opportunity.” Rockwell Automation CEO Keith Nosbusch explained the company’s plans to increase its geographical and functional footprint in the industrial automation market. 
He emphasized Rockwell Automation’s preparation for further international leverage by highlighting 2007 global expansion in China, Singapore, Poland and Mexico. Having crossed a major threshold with 50% of its employees now outside the United States, the company’s next goal is to achieve 50% of its sales outside the United States, as well. “I believe by 2009 we can achieve that goal,” said Nosbusch. Projecting GDP into 2008, Asian and Latin American markets still appear most attractive, and yet Russian and Eastern European countries are expected to outperform the remainder of Europe, Nosbusch said.

Now aligning itself into two distinct businesses—control products & solutions (11% sales growth in 2007) and architecture & software (8%)—Rockwell Automation intends to leverage its expertise in these areas through further globalization. Recent acquisitions of ICS Triplex, a process safety solutions company; ProsCon, a life science application and delivery company; and advanced process control & optimization company Pavilion Technologies were spotlighted.

An ability to deploy globally and capitalize on customers’ desire to outsource are driving Rockwell Automation’s plans for growth in the control area. “On the architecture side, the connected enterprise gives us clear guidance to areas of further expansion,” Nosbusch said. Collaboration in real-time with suppliers, channels and customers; more challenging governance and compliance regulations; and greater pressures on efficiencies are driving enabled convergence through an integrated architecture, he explained.

By bringing new capabilities into its core and leveraging its strengths into adjacencies, Rockwell Automation plans to expand its offerings and expertise exponentially. “The convergence of discrete and process, information and control is a game-changing opportunity,” he said.

Rockwell Automation sees 2008 growth potential in its EtherNet IP offering, FactoryTalk suite adoption, as well as its joint ventures with Cisco; in the process and machine safety markets; and in intelligent motor control. Trends such as the global war for talent will heighten the need to leverage solutions and services to achieve greater customer intimacy, said Nosbusch.

When asked about potential acquisitions in 2008, Nosbusch wouldn’t reveal any cards, but he did indicate that Rockwell Automation is always in the hand. “We absolutely continue to have a very robust pipeline that we manage,” he said. “But we never know how many come through that pipeline until the end. We have continued interest to expand our control footprint. If you look at our recent acquisitions, they fill that role very well. We’re a control company. You can expect us to expand that footprint in more industries and more geographies.”

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