In discussions at the Automation Fair, Bob Eisenbrown, vice president for global channels and marketing, stressed Rockwell Automation’s relationship with customers as based on plant-wide optimization developed out of a customer-centric dialogue over business problems, rather than a product sales approach. This, he said, would lead to balanced global growth, adding as an aside that the largest single industry served in 2010 was oil and gas, maybe not what would have been expected from Rockwell. It was admitted that a major part of this business came via ICS Triplex, and its specialization in fault-tolerant control and shutdown safety systems.
In his presentation to the assembled press at Automation Fair, CEO Keith Nosbusch teamed up with Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and chief technical officer, to discuss sustainable manufacturing achieved by an optimized plant and supply network, which, they said, needed plant-floor integration with the external supply chain to give flexible and agile production (a message repeated by Battacharya of Invensys in his OpsManage presentations). To achieve this, Nosbusch states, requires the implementation of a standard, unmodified Ethernet infrastructure and its associated interoperable standards, as well as manufacturing intelligence that enables the transfer of data into actionable information.
Ethernet brings IT to the shop floor
"Ethernet is the fastest growing network in industrial automation on the plant floor and is at the center of the PlantPAx 2.0 capabilities," said Nosbusch. "Ethernet has the ability to create a secure environment and brings voice, video, data and mobility to an enterprise."
For Rockwell Automation, the global leadership of Cisco in the Ethernet/IT infrastructure world makes Cisco "a very critical strategic partner" to bring the IT world onto the plant floor, and "Rockwell Automation and Cisco are the only ones capable of doing this today." This strong messaging was obviously driven by a degree of surprise expressed by the Rockwell sales people over the accelerated acceptance of Ethernet/IP.
Readers with a long memory will remember that Cisco's declared ultimate aim is to see Ethernet and IP extending right down to the device level and replacing 'proprietary protocols,' such as Profibus and Foundation fieldbus. This was revealed at the joint Cisco/Emerson presentation explaining how those two companies would work together to deliver wireless plant networks and applications based on Cisco's Unified Wireless Architecture, and there Cisco's Stuart Robinson explained that "Cisco does not do exclusive deals." The Emerson Smart Wireless architecture uses wireless access points from Cisco to provide Wi-Fi coverage.