"The reason we expect to be able to double the process industry initiative business by 2017," said Steve Pulsifer, director of process market development, Rockwell Automation, "is because we already have delivered. I think that's why our CEO thinks we can do it. If you really look at it, we've concentrated on customer-focused innovation. And if you make customers happy and give them a world-class experience as they deal with you as a corporation, you're going to grow."
Pulsifer, along with Ben Mansfield, PlantPAx marketing manager, and Som Chakraborti, global director of Rockwell Automation's process business, discussed the status and future of the PlantPAx process automation system initiative.
"It's as simple as that, right?" Pulsifer added. "Customer satisfaction is the number one thing you have to supply. And that's the whole experience from technology to solutions and services and even the way we have selected some phenomenal partners has been extremely positive for the customers, and that builds the annuity stream."
"I think the path we have been on is testimony to the fact that doubling the business is possible," said Som Chakraborti. "Doubling is still a feat, and there's a combination of market factors and additional investments that the company is committed to making. We're focusing on certain industry groups where we expect the investment levels to continue as high as they are now."
Continued Enhancements Planned
"Adding to that," Chakraborti said, "while there are factors we can't control, the focus will be on the products we will be launching in the next fiscal year for us and into the next operating cycle. These include the general architecture areas that have an impact on all of our control products and then further enhancements to our DCS architecture. You already saw elements of what we have been achieving in the past twelve months, and that's going to continue, so I think you're going to see an unprecedented level of new product introductions that are going to take our architecture to completely new levels."
"There are areas of the process systems business that everybody has to do, common expectations of our customers, like high availability, redundancy, fault tolerance across the architecture, engineering efficiency," Chakraborti said. "There is also something that is truly disruptive, as a technology, but that can be embraced by the plant floor and that has a dramatic impact in the years to come. At that point it becomes a 'table stake' for the company. We believe that virtualization is one of those technology anchor points. It is a proven technology well-embraced by enterprise segments of our customers' businesses, but yet to be embraced on the plant floor. We have discovered a critical mass of our customers who are ready to embrace virtualization, and those are going to be our bellwether customers."
"Wall Street runs on virtualization," Steve Pulsifer added, "and if you consider the number of transactions that entails as opposed to the number that take place in a process plant application, there's just no comparison."
Responding to a comment that higher availability and security from having physical servers on the premises is actually a myth, Ben Mansfield noted, "All of these issues that disrupt operations, all the things that IT doesn't like or want to deal with, you can put into a virtual server. I think it is just a natural progression. More and more customers are embracing it as the future, and the industry is maturing. As a company we have been talking about convergence for a long time, and at the end of the day ‘IT as a partner to automation' is the future."
Pulsifer added, "But it is when customers can look at an economic benefit, as well as a technology benefit that things really move forward."