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A virtual version of the Rockwell Experience

Nov. 17, 2020

This “robot integration” stop on the Digital Thread Experience is only one of the robust, interactive displays at Automation Fair At Home that also features on-demand Zoom conversations with Rockwell Automation subject matter experts.

There are challenges in pivoting from a traditional in-person event, like Rockwell Automation’s annual Automation Fair has been for the past 29 years, to a digital event. But the pivot also presents opportunities—case-in-point:  the new Rockwell Automation Experience, which boasts three virtual representations of actual facilities within Rockwell’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin headquarters that enable Automation Fair At Home attendees to experience and explore all from the comfort of their home office.

“All three of these spaces are actual, physical facilities in our Milwaukee headquarters, now turned into virtual spaces through 3D technology,” explained, Rockwell Commercial Program Manager Nicole Bulanda, who invites Automation Fair attendees to “walk” through the spaces, click on hot spots for deeper dives into solutions, and pose questions—live—to Rockwell experts. “In that respect it’s the same as if you were on the tradeshow floor at our event,” she said. “We want to give attendees the same experience as they would have in person.”

Bulanda and her Rockwell colleagues invite you to come take a tour…right from your home office…no need to change out of your sweatpants.

Digital Engineering Hall

The Rockwell team notes that visitors to this virtual area will learn about design tools to help advance designing, operating and maintaining your digital environment. The area includes:

  • End-to-end demonstrations of a digital engineering project
  • A representation of a digital engineering ecosystem
  • Guidance to “Do It Better Digitally”
  • Tutorials on how to improve your “view” of industrial computers
  • A dive into Rockwell’s augmented-reality services 

“Here you’ll find high-level messaging about how we help companies plan for their digital transformations,” said Bulanda, who herself pops up (virtually) within this space to assist visitors in  investigating innovations and clicking on the Ask The Expert buttons to directly connect with thought-leaders. (Between noon and 1 pm and 3-5 pm CT each day this week, technical experts are available to provide detailed answers to questions attendees might have about solutions for their own facilities.) Tour the Digital Engineering Hall

Digital Thread Experience

The Rockwell team invites visitors at this area to tour an end-to-end Connected Enterprise system and see offerings from Rockwell Automation and its PartnerNetwork ecosystem. During this tour, visitors can view solutions in action and discover how to accelerate their digital transformations. This area also includes:

  • Guidance on accelerating time-to-value with the digital twin
  • Ways to increase flexibility with iTRAK Intelligent Technology 
  • Tips for raising production rates with MagneMover LITE and maximizing productivity with robot integration 
  • Instruction on improving operational insights with FactoryTalk InnovationSuite and optimizing systems with digitally-enabled Lifecycle Services 

“This is our end-to-end digital thread story,” explained Bulanda, who notes that this is her favorite station within the Rockwell Experience, since it focuses on an actual working production line within the Rockwell headquarters, detailing each component, including the cobot (affectionately known as Kevin) that sorts orders. “This area is teeming with content,” she said, highlighting the how-to videos, product PDFs and other resources visitors can access here. Tour the Digital Thread Experience

Product & Technology Showcase

The Rockwell team invites attendees to see how they deliver The Connected Enterprise from smart devices to smart systems and provide smart operations that deliver the foundation to demonstrate industry key plays. This area also includes:

  • Advice on empowering digital operations and using PlantPAX 5.0 DCS, Lifecycle Services,  Integrated Packaged Power and scalable control systems 
  • Guidance on designing and managing your automation system
  • Tips on smart sensing and safety, motor control and industrial control 

This segment of the Rockwell Experience “puts it all together,” according to Bulanda. “It’s the nuts and bolts…the things that bring The Connected Enterprise to life. These are things you’d traditionally see at our booth at Automation Fair but it might actually be better in this format because, with things that are highly theoretical, such as data analytics, in this virtual format you can better understand how it can work at your facility. You can really visualize the value for you here.” Tour the Product and Technology Showcase

Virtual for now & after the return to normal

While these virtual experiences were launched in conjunction with this week’s Rockwell Automation Fair At Home event, they will continue to be available throughout the coming year, even after the actual brick-and-mortar versions of the facilities return to hosting live, in-person tours at Rockwell headquarters.

And while the Rockwell Experience was built solely for users, Bulanda admitted that it scratches an itch for her and her colleagues. “We really miss having conversations with customers. I miss seeing humans in my booth,” she said. “This enables us to do that.”

Attendance for Rockwell Automation At Home has far surpassed organizers’ expectations; more than 35,000 global registrants are attending this week. The Rockwell Experience virtual facilities welcome each one of them…from wherever they may be…and sweatpants are just fine.

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The editors of Control, Control Design and Smart Industry are providing coverage of Automation Fair At Home, bringing you breaking news, innovations and insights from the virtual event. Once Automation Fair At Home is over, the editors will put together an event report featuring the top news. Pre-order your copy today.

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