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Rockwell Automation Aims to Connect the Enterprise

'Internet of Everything' to Be Worth Trillions over the Next 10 Years

By Paul Studebaker

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"We have thousands of assets with something to say, but are they being heard?" asked Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation, addressing representatives of the press and analyst community from around the globe at the company's Automation Perspectives event today, in the lead-up to the company's annual Automation Fair event tomorrow in Houston.

Rockwell Automation, now celebrating the 110th anniversary of its Allen-Bradley brand, has 22,000 employees in 80 countries and logged $6.35 billion in sales in its fiscal year 2013. Nosbusch credits the company's longevity and success to integrity, passion and deep domain expertise. But, "The inrush of new technologies is now changing the game," he said.

As Ethernet/IP continues to become more universal in both discrete and process automation—connecting people, processes, devices and data—producers are beginning to capitalize on the business value of possessing the right information at the right time within the enterprise. The vast new visibility into production data and supply-chain information offers the next wave in competitive differentiation.

"We believe that we are at an inflection point drawn by the integration of the Internet of Things and the Connected Enterprise," Nosbusch said.

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As the global population accelerates toward 8 billion, millions of people exiting poverty and an expanding middle class will demand more food, housing and transportation—goods that will have to be manufactured and distributed. This will increase demands on not only our manufacturers, but also on infrastructure, water supply and raw materials. Increasing demand for scarce resources will drive inefficiencies out of manufacturing, leading to a need to spend an estimated $1 trillion on resource productivity, Nosbusch said.

Enabling truly connected enterprises will improve global competitiveness as producers capitalize on the business value of real-time data from the large number of Ethernet-connected nodes, or connections, in an industrial ecosystem. The evolution of smart, secure, Internet-enabled architecture that helps transform this data into actionable information will lead to sustainable competitive differentiation with optimized plants and supply networks.

To bring manufacturing data into the enterprise, where it can be used to generate value, Rockwell Automation is breaking down the barriers and combining manufacturing automation with enterprise systems to create the Connected Enterprise. The Connected Enterprise will bring us safer, more accessible food and other products, and less waste in production processes by integrating the cloud, mobility, big data and analytics, smart things and security.

The cloud offers remote access to devices and information, massive storage and the computing power needed for complex analytics. Mobility is not only about devices, but also providing people with the ability to access information on the go, making security a high priority. Big data and analytics empower collaboration, and "manufacturing generates more big data than any other sector," Nosbusch said.

Cisco estimates that this technology—the "Internet of Everything"—will be worth $14.4 trillion over the next 10 years, generated by enabling efficiencies in asset utilization, employee productivity, supply chain/logistics, customer experience and innovation, and has the potential to raise global profits 22% by 2022.

"By letting people know what's really happening in the enterprise, the Connected Enterprise creates real customer value by turning data into information into knowledge and ultimately into wisdom," Nosbusch said. This requires a common, secure Ethernet infrastructure to integrate control and information.

For example, "King's Hawaiian makes delicious dinner rolls," observed Nosbusch. "They also have 11 production lines connected by EtherNet/IP and remotely monitored from California, where they collect quality and production metrics and compare line-to-line efficiencies….King's Hawaiian now has a Connected Enterprise."

The Connected Enterprise has obvious value in food and beverage plants, which experience fluctuations and rapid change due to seasonal variations, supply chain volatility, market size variations and product changes. In automotive, drivers of the Connected Enterprise include continuous improvement. Toyota is saving half a million dollars a year by analyzing data from production and quality systems to find and correct errors in real time. "Savings like these are only possible when you get the right information to the right decision-makers at the right time," Nosbusch added.

Through remote asset monitoring, operations can be debugged and optimized from around the world. And by linking system information, "We can know what was supposed to happen as well as what did happen," Nosbusch said. "The next layer of investment will be at the plant infrastructure level. The value at stake is enormous."