How services can connect the digital dots

Nov. 9, 2021

“The success of everyone really depends on understanding what’s possible, and the only way you can truly understand what’s possible is through the power of knowledge,” began Frank Kulaszewicz, senior vice president of lifecycle services at Rockwell Automation, in his Perspectives presentation in the run up to this week’s Automation Fair 2021 in Houston.

“At Rockwell Automation, our vision of a Connected Enterprise is really uniquely positioned to help transform companies,” he said. He also discussed Rockwell Automation’s role in leading customers on their digital journeys, the acquisitions and new services designed to help these client enterprises from beginning to end.

Many companies lack the expertise and experience to realize their digital transformation initiatives, Kulaszewic added, and Rockwell Automation’s Lifecycle Services group helps with those challenges. Last year at the Automation Fair, Rockwell introduced its new brand: LifecycleIQ Services. As a trusted advisor for its customers, the brand combines technology with domain expertise to help solve customer challenges.

The portfolio of services, focused on product inception through production to supply chain, all the way through to the needs of its customer’s end-users embrace five areas: consulting, professional, connected, field and workforce services. “Our services group is innovating faster than ever before and that allows us to bring more value to the customer than ever before,” Kulaszewicz says. “And there’s no one better positioned to bring together the power of IT and OT in a simple, scalable and sustainable way.”

Connecting the whole value chain

In many different industries, customers are starting digital transformation initiatives, but they often struggle to scale, Kulaszewicz added. “Digital transformation can’t happen in pockets, it has to happen across that entire value chain,” he said.

Last year, Rockwell Automation expanded its digital business, intent on helping customers create that single value chain, with the purchase of Kalypso, which provides integration services for digital transformation. “They really fundamentally change how customers discover, create, make and sell their products,” Kulaszewicz said. To establish that digital thread and continuous flow of data from connected products, equipment, processes and systems, Kalypso combines industry domain expertise with the customer’s strategy, technology and some change management. “Change management is a big part of digital transformation,” Kulaszewicz said.

Kalypso, as well as Rockwell Automation’s ecosystem of technology partners, have allowed the company to expand beyond manufacturing into product development and supply chain management. Recently, Rockwell Automation acquired Avata, a provider of supply chain management services, enterprise resource planning and enterprise performance management solutions. “They’re also a leading consultant and system integrator for cloud-based software solutions and have been a strategic partner of Kalypso for some time,” Kulaszewicz said. “Avata is going to really help us provide a more comprehensive set of services and solutions for our customers as they navigate supply chain challenges.”

With expanding services, Rockwell is also growing into new industries with Avata and Kalypso, like its work with Fresenius Medical Care, a global medical device manufacturer. Several years ago, Rockwell worked with the company to develop a product lifecycle management foundation. The company wanted to better connect product development with its manufacturing capabilities to produce more complex therapy systems for the market.

Now, the company is working on the digital transformation piece to provide a digital thread from product development and manufacturing to the maintenance team to improve efficiency and productivity. “Kalypso has been guiding them to connected products and connected operations, and so what they want to do now is improve how to connect the product design digital twins and the factory digital twins to revolutionize manufacturing methods,” Kulaszewicz said. The new analytics layer will provide insights to deliver the outcomes the company is after.

As another example, leveraging its LogixAI technology, Rockwell Automation is working with a global tire manufacturer to evaluate its production processes and reduce downtime. The company was not having failure issues with machines, but it was experiencing process failures.

“Downtime from splice failures where they bring the sides of the tire together is their biggest production downtime,” Kulaszewicz said. Kalypso, with LogixAI devices, trained an algorithm to predict when splices would happen. Once they understood the conditions under which failures occurred, they could identify the machine process variables and adjust them in real-time to bring splice tolerances back in line. “That might seem like something simple, but it significantly reduced downtime,” Kulaszewicz said. One plant was able to produce an additional half a million tires per year.

Cybersecurity: merging IT and OT

As more and more companies venture on the digital journey, data connectivity and cybersecurity become larger concerns. With more and more cyber criminals targeting industry and critical infrastructure, these companies need advanced cybersecurity solutions. “There are more processes and tools available now than ever before to help companies understand and mitigate these risks,” Kulaszewicz said. “But it’s not easy finding the right solution capabilities to mitigate cybersecurity risk in an OT environment.” Rockwell believes it is uniquely positioned to address the cybersecurity challenges across information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) environments.

“Today we’re doubling down on our security investments to build the most responsive industrial cybersecurity offering on the market, so no matter where you are on the journey, we can build an adaptive plan for before, during and after a cyber incident,” Kulaszewicz said.

Last year at the Automation Fair, Rockwell announced it would build a security operations center (SOC) in Israel, which is now available to provide remote security management services, continuously monitoring security for customers. Likewise, Rockwell Automation is also growing its cybersecurity partnerships, including projects with Dragos and CrowdStrike. The Dragos partnership will focus on response and recovery, and the work with CrowdStrike on OT end point security.

Many plants full of aging equipment have infrastructure that wasn’t designed with cybersecurity in mind. Rockwell helped one of its global food and beverage customers faced with this challenge to assess, design and modernize its critical infrastructure. “What’s interesting about this is we used our infrastructure as a service offering and migrated all their networking services onto an OT network,” Kulaszewicz said. “Today we’re managing over 100 plants for them, keeping infrastructure up to date and secure.”

Rockwell Automation’s customers range across broad and diverse industries, often complex in nature, but this is where the organization thrives, Kulaszewicz said. “We help customers do the hard stuff, and we try to deliver value in whatever way that works.”

The lifecycle services group has a comprehensive portfolio to cover all manufacturers’ needs, and the flexibility to partner with customers at any stage of the lifecycle. “When you’re challenged with something that feels impossible,” Kulaszewicz said, “we can help you see what’s possible.”

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