Automation Fair

InnovationSuite partners pile on productivity

By Jim Montague

Nov 22, 2019

Sponsored by Rockwell Automation

The old adage "greater than the sum of its parts" rule applies to the best partnerships, and is usually demonstrated by their productivity. One of the latest and best examples of this is the year-old collaboration between Rockwell Automation and PTC. It's already generated a variety of useful digital tools, which are gathered in the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, and deliver improved data preparation, more automated data discovery, and functions that are more tightly integrated.

"For instance, FactoryTalk Historian can now push data right into process application models or to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or cloud computing services," said Paula Puess, global market development manager, Rockwell Automation. "We're working with manufacturing execution system (MES) platforms and installing application program interfaces (APIs). All these efforts are being done with the purpose of making the user experience with these tools easier for our customers, so they can in turn delight their clients and customers."

Puess conducted a tour of the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite exhibit at Automation Fair 2019 this week in Chicago.

In general, FactoryTalk InnovationSuite improves connectivity to operational technology (OT) devices on the plant floor while natively supporting rapid, scalable and secure connection of most industrial equipment. Combined with data from IT applications and systems, decision makers can gain a complete digital representation of their industrial equipment, lines and facilities from anywhere in their enterprise. Utilizing advanced innovations in machine learning, IIoT and augmented reality (AR), the suite conceptualizes and connects data to make it accessible and insightful for operations personnel.

Discover and deliver

Puess reported that solutions stemming from the Rockwell Automation and PTC partnership can more efficiently and thoroughly collect information from OT and IT sources, automate these discovery functions, and populate and run models to aid actual operations.

"For example, FactoryTalk Analytics is using machine learning (ML) methods to execute models across applications and systems, and this is enabling users to better normalize their data so that more meaningful conclusions can be drawn," explained Puess. "This allows them to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, so they can make better decisions, optimize performance, and achieve the greatest possible performance gains."

Likewise, Puess added that ThingWorx IoT is an MES platform that can combine its industrial connectivity with FactoryTalk Analytics software, ML, AR, artificial intelligence (AI) and edge-computing devices to further extend the gains already achieve by FactoryTalk InnovationSuite. "However, all of these new capabilities depend on and run on top of a vast ecosystem of edge devices that are found in any industrial environment," added Puess. "It's estimated that 75% of all manufacturing data is going to run on the edge, which is also more efficient than trying to send it all up to the cloud or enterprise."

Fruitful year, rapid growth

Puess added that the PTC and Rockwell Automation collaboration has already resulted in the partners signing up more than 100 new customers. Overall, the partners reported their collaboration and joint digital transformation solutions are experiencing strong market momentum.

“In the past year, Rockwell Automation and PTC teams worked closely to integrate and optimize FactoryTalk InnovationSuite to the needs of a very fast growing, dynamic market,” said John Genovesi, senior vice president, Enterprise Accounts and Software, Rockwell Automation. “We’re very pleased to see the results in terms of the rapid growth of new customers and the significant industry recognition of our solution as highly innovative and a leader in modular and integrated capabilities spanning MES, analytics, IIoT and AR.”

Catherine Kniker, divisional vice president, Strategic Alliances and Technology Partnerships, PTC, added that, “We’re delighted with the progress in our partnership, but more importantly about the help that we’ve provided to so many new customers with their digital transformation initiatives. We'll continue investing significantly in this strategic relationship with Rockwell Automation, and look forward to continuing to drive customer success.”

Since the partnership's 2018 inception, FactoryTalk InnovationSuite has experienced:

  • Rapid customer adoption and global growth. Customer engagements for FactoryTalk InnovationSuite have grown in 21 countries, including some of the world’s largest automotive, consumer packaged goods, healthcare, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical companies. Leading use cases include digital workforce productivity, enterprise operational intelligence, intelligent asset optimization, and scalable production management.
  • OT and IT integration. OT/IT integration is the key to accelerating innovation, and achieving productivity gains at digital transformation scale. The partners added their joint offering delivers the industry’s most advanced OT/IT integration capabilities including asset and system auto-discovery, data model sharing and reuse, integrated analytics, and AR empowerment.
  • Broad industry recognition. Rockwell Automation, PTC, and the combined software suite have been widely acknowledged in many analyst research reports over the past year, including reports from Gartner, Forrester, IDC and ABI Research. Most recently, the companies’ FactoryTalk InnovationSuite was recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for MES for the second consecutive year, and received the IoT Innovator Award: Manufacturing & Factory from Compass Intelligence.