Insight-- RSTechED 2008

Kevin Roach's opening speech at Rockwell Automation's RSTechEd 2008 event focused on insight and creativity-- and the perils of linear thinking. He pointed out the famous prediction errors, like "The world market for computers is, maybe, seven." He quoted Sir Arthur Clarke's three laws of innovation: 1. Nothing is impossible. 2. Look past linear thinking. 3. Technology is essential. Roach talked about futurism, especially tomorrow's keynote speaker, Alvin Toffler, who puts all the clues available to us in context. Roach talked about the visibility of manufacturing in context. Manufacturing has been a "black box" -- put labor, raw materials, and management in, get profit out. But this doesn't work any more. Trained labor is disappearing-- even in China which will lose half its workforce in the next 15 years. Energy and raw materials inputs to the "black box" aren't in good shape, either. That leaves, Roach said, capital. But capital is flat to down...and not likely to change. We need to innovate-- change the game and change the shape and size of the "black box." Innovation is going to fuel the manufacturing expansion of the 21st century. Think of mash-ups-- connecting the dots and combining several technologies to create innovative information. Information mash-ups help us react in new ways so we can circumvent linear thinking. So what can we already do? "Allow me to introduce InstaSoap division of InstaCorp." Roach showed a series of KPI dashboards he called information mashups. Drilling down, he showed predictive tools and calculators that come from Incuity-- a recent Rockwell acquisition. Roach's scenario showed how to use FactoryTalk's portal structure to find a devious problem in the soap factory. He repeatedly referred to Incuity tools as mashups--and how to use data mashups to find his problem. "This is the alarm that never went off" because each person involved used his or her role-based mashups to find the problem and fix it before it impacted quarterly profits. Making our vision real has meant that we have had to make changes. We acquired Incuity--a flexible single invironment for production business systems. Especially legacy systems. Pavilion Technologies brought over 100 patents in MPC and performance and economic optimization. You will see new bundled offerings incorporating these new acquisitions. New products include a new thin client HMI...and a machine-based version of the FactoryTalk historian..HistorianME. Making these activities automatic and transparent will produce the ability to do better work. We are also improving product quality, including CMMI level 3 and Six Sigma black and green belts. We are using external audits to make sure we conform to our own goals... We also have changed how we develop products. SCRUM development (RA is unique in the automation industry in using SCRUM) makes it possible to ship every two weeks! What does this innovation mean to our customers? Continental, Fonterra, Smithfield, Nova Chem and HeXion....all have used parts of Rockwell offerings to improve operations. This makes a real-time SAP costing model practical and real. Most of Roach's examples included Pavilion and Incuity. "More information makes innovation possible," Roach said. "FactoryTalk is desaigned to help you innovate and incorporate your legacy systems."