Plex Systems blossoms in first year with Rockwell

June 14, 2022

“We’ve worked to further productize our OEE solution. The packaged solution can help you get up and running on Day 1.” Plex Solutions’ Nathan Pieri outlined steps the cloud-based solutions provider is taking to streamline implementation for its manufacturing customers. 

As Plex Systems enters the homestretch of its first year as part of Rockwell Automation, the two manufacturing tech companies combined forces to host ROKLive this week in Orlando, Fla. “It’s the first time we’ve had Plex customers and Rockwell customers together at an event,” explained Brian Shepherd, senior vice president, software and control, Rockwell Automation.

“Plex is a cloud pioneer and an industry leader with proven success and loyal customers,” said Shepherd. “We saw a perfect puzzle-piece fit of Plex inside of Rockwell. More than 700 customers are running their businesses off the Plex platform.”

Rockwell also has given Plex a forever home; it’s no longer owned by private equity. “We’re increasing investment in R&D,” explained Shepherd. “The global reach of Rockwell is another advantage. We have more than 25,000 people at Rockwell, all focused on manufacturing.”

The acquisition has made a difference already. For the first time, Plex was named as a leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for manufacturing execution systems.

Some notable Plex customer achievements of late include:

  • Euro Tranciatura Mexico’s improved on-time delivery to nearly 100%.
  • FloraCraft achieved a 60% increase in revenue with no additional labor hours.
  • Hausbeck improved its inventory accuracy from 70% in 2015 to 99.6% now.
  • G&W Products achieved 98% on-time delivery.
  • Accuride slashed its hardware-requisition time from days to less than a half hour.

Shepherd also noted that Plex has quickly become an integral part of Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise production system, which is built on five core competencies:

  • Leading cloud-based business systems;
  • Fully contextualized machine and operational data;
  • Visualization and analytics with applied artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML);
  • Modern production system design; and,
  • World-leading automation and control.

Nathan Pieri, Plex’s chief product officer and vice president, applications, identified three areas of acceleration that the organization is pursing, including manufacturing execution; machine integration; and analytics and applied AI/ML. Further, six key areas are targeted for investment. They include the digital thread; inbound supply chains; agility; edge to cloud; user centricity; and premier cloud services.

“The digital thread connects your workers to your business systems,” explained Pieri. It blurs the lines of what a traditional manufacturing execution system (MES) is. “We can solve problems that go beyond those traditional boundaries,” he added, noting the inclusion of tools such as Mach2 low-code IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) development environment and SmartEDI with new OEM (original equipment manufacturer) support, which Plex added by acquiring Kors Engineering in early 2021.

Inbound supply chains, or “supply-chain in,” is important because performance is only as good as how well the supply chain is managed. “ML-based forecasts will be available in Q3 2022,” said Pieri. “Over the past year, we’ve been looking to improve scenario planning and add more content to make better forecasts. Applying ML improves forecast accuracy by 5%.”

“We’ll be able to collect the data, run it through the models and make decisions for you to minimize work-in-process (WIP) inventory, maximize capacity utilization and maximize adherence to promised delivery,” explained Pieri.

Agility is at the heart of the MES, he added. “We want to be the MES of choice for food-and-beverage and discrete industries,” proclaimed Pieri. “We want to build a full stack of capabilities,” which include condition-based maintenance, Ford FMEA (failure mode and effects analysis)  compliance for quality management, multi-site kitting, VIN tracking and flexible assembly.

Edge-to-cloud aids with the ability to integrate machines by utilizing low-code tools. “It all starts at the edge,” said Pieri. “We’ve worked to further productize our OEE solution. The packaged solution can help you get up and running on Day 1.” Overall-equipment-effectiveness (OEE) templates are divided into five groups: automation; OEM and industry compliance; error proofing and validation; visual intelligence; and connected worker. One manufacturer realized a 20% throughput improvement and unlocked 30% downtime reduction, Pieri explained.

User centricity includes modular solutions to simplify the Industry 4.0 transformation. “The journey includes visibility, control and automation,” said Pieri.

Finally, Plex’s premier cloud services offer a constant stream of continuous innovation without upgrades, so users can focus on making and not maintaining. “More than 380 updates were made over the past 12 months without upgrades, while maintaining a 98 security score,” Pieri explained.

Plex Chief Technology Officer Jerry Foster also announced the winners of the annual Customer Impact Awards during ROKLive.

The Transformer Impact Award was given to Kendrick Plastics, which reduced its scrap rate.

Accuride won the Innovator Impact Award by achieving ISO-17025 accreditation.

The Leadership Impact Award went to Old World Spices & Seasonings, thanks largely to its ability to maximize information availability with zero disruptions.

Control+M Solutions earned the Partner Impact Award, after achieving the highest all-time post-boot-camp results.

And Partner of the Year was awarded to Plante Moran for its expansion of Plex services in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

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