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Rockwell Automation core strengths ensure customers' future

Nov. 9, 2021

How do you overcome the devastating impact of unprecedented challenges? You start by drawing on core strengths to begin counterpunching, then use that power to pick up new tools and innovations, and wield them to fight back, survive, and even emerge victorious.

This was the uplifting, central message delivered by Rockwell Automation chairman and CEO Blake Moret in his Nov. 9 keynote address at the Perspectives event, just before the start of Automation Fair 2021 this week in Houston.

“We’ve all had a couple of years like no others, but now we’re looking forward to reconnecting with all of you again,” said Moret. “Our last in-person event was in 2019 in Chicago, where we had a historic number of attendees, and were on the verge of introducing several new things. But then came changes none of us ever had to deal with before. And we’ve learned that the companies that emerge successfully will have the agility, resilience and sustainability to deal with the changes that are thrown at all of us on a daily basis.”

For instance, Moret reported that end users in all industries will need new levels of manufacturing flexibility, including the ability to continue working and interacting remotely. This will enable them to ramp production up and down more quickly and meet the need for SKUs that are more numerous, more varied and also needed more quickly.

“The movement of people is still constrained, and everyone has been on Microsoft Teams, Zoom and WebEx more than ever. However, in manufacturing, we’ve also been doing remote factory acceptance tests (FAT) and projecting expertise across many miles. All of these originate from IT tools that are moving onto the factory floor,” explained Moret. “We’ve seen profound changes across Rockwell Automation’s product offerings and business systems, and within our culture as we’ve looked to broaden our opportunities. 

“We’re also combining technologies and expertise to help customers be more agile, resilient and sustainable, too. We believe no one’s in a better position than Rockwell Automation to bring operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) together to help our customers build stronger businesses, and we’re continuing to develop the building blocks they need to achieve these positive outcomes.”

Zero in on industry

Moret explained that Rockwell Automation has adopted an even more industry-centric approach in how it assists its customers and is anchoring this strategy on its core automation technologies, products and services.

“You can’t produce electric cars, billions of vaccine doses or various packaged food varieties without automation, but this automation has to be fit-for-purpose to each user, so they can make quality products at speed, gain the data and insights they require, and maintain the cybersecurity that’s they first and last question in every discussion,” said Moret. 

“We’re working on intelligent carts for production lines, so products can be produced and packaged more quickly, as well as on-machine intelligence for more cohesive production systems. Plus, we’re continuing to increase our involvement in the process industries, which are still one of our biggest opportunities. Our PlantPAx DCS and other software for process applications is giving process industry users the building blocks to gain more value than ever.”

Likewise, Rockwell Automation has further enhanced its software and services portfolio by acquiring:

  • Kalypso, a software delivery and digital transformation consulting firm, in May 2020;

  • Avata, a supply chain consulting company and Oracle Cloud Partner, in October 2021;

  • Maverick Technologies, a nationwide system integrator, in 2016;

  • Oylo, an industrial cybersecurity services provider based in Spain, in October 2020; 

  • Fiix, a maintenance management platform enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), in January 2021; and

  • Plex Systems, a cloud-native, software-as-a-service, smart-manufacturing firm, in June 2021.

“These acquisitions let us have broader and deeper discussions with our customers as they make digital transformations, and helps them become more competitive than ever,” said Moret.

Up to cloud, down to plant 

Beyond its recent acquisitions and many longstanding partnerships, Rockwell Automation has also ventured further into cloud-computing services itself. For example, Moret reported, its flagship FactoryTalk software is manifesting on the cloud with:

  • FactoryTalk Design Hub that provides streamlined automation system design;

  • FactoryTalk Operations Hub that leverages Plex’s expertise to deliver simplified, cloud-native operations management; and 

  • FactoryTalk Maintenance Hub that uses the Fiix platform to enhance asset management and predictive maintenance applications.

“Each customer is at a different stage in their development and requirements, and FactoryTalk in the cloud makes sure that we can be there for them,” said Moret.

To protect all these new, digitalized and closely Internet-linked capabilities, Moret reported that Rockwell Automation is also establishing a Cybersecurity Operations Center to monitor and mitigate cyber-probes, intrusions and potential attacks. “The center will employ many new protections and countermeasures, and will take advantage of new cybersecurity technologies and partnerships,” added Moret. “This is similar to the consulting services on seamless deployment and maintenance that are available due to our recent acquisitions of Kalypso and Avata. They let us go shoulder-to-shoulder with our customers to talk digitalization, but then have that second discussion, which lets them achieve higher throughputs and implement tangible execution plans.”

Industry-led, customer-centric

These real-world production gains are the result of Rockwell Automation’s enhanced industry-led approach, which also focuses on specific use cases in each industry, according to Moret. 

“We’re looking through the eye of our customers, and seeing all the choices they have, including those for the newest technologies,” added Moret. “This lets our customers stay ahead of disruptions, and makes them able to do some disrupting themselves, instead of being disrupted.”

For instance, Moret added that Rockwell Automation’s customer-centric solutions can:

  • Perform changeovers in less than a minute by using the independent carts, and achieve close to zero latency;

  • Manage multiple variables, and remove traditional obstacles and latencies in automotive applications, and let one vehicle be produced immediately after another;

  • Speed up facility build times by 50%; and 

  • Use 40% less energy while improving consistency.

“Rockwell Automation understands the best opportunities for customer productivity,” concluded Moret. “We combine the knowledge and expertise they need in products that bring together excellent functionality, and deliver the overall solutions that perform for them. In fact, we believe these combined business systems and simplification will sort the winders from the losers in the next decade.”

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About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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