The blog reviews the Rockwell Automation Fair. The event focussed on Rockwell Automation' partnership with PTC, the launch of FactoryTalk...
Over the past two weeks in San Diego the name of the game has been convergence, both with two major co-located conferences as well as overall IT-OT trends. What does this mean for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?
From May 31 – June 5, 2015 LNS Research had the pleasure of attending Rockwell Automation TechED, and from June 7 – 11, 2015 we were also at Cisco Live. The co-location of these two events highlights the importance of bringing together both IT and Automation professionals as well as the opportunity posed by the industrial sector for Internet of Things (IoT) technology. In this post we will share the highlights of the Rockwell Automation TechED event and in the second post we will provide highlights of the Cisco Live event, examine the Cisco & Rockwell Automation alliance, and make some key recommendations for end users.
Rockwell Automation TechED – Enabling The Connected Enterprise
TechED is an event providing thought leadership, training, and education that has traditionally been focused on software users, but increasingly been extending to all of the Rockwell Automation portfolio. With over 2,000 attendees, this event is second only to Automation Fair in scale and scope of all the events held by Rockwell Automation each year.
Overall the event focused on The Connected Enterprise, which was the main topic of the keynote. Keith McPherson, Director of Market Development kicked off the day’s event and introduced the first keynote speaker, Frank Kulaszewicz, Senior Vice President-Architecture & Software. Frank’s keynote took the audience on The Connected Enterprise journey, showcasing the benefits of The Connected Enterprise as well as many new product announcements like the Kinetix 5700 Ethernet/IP Servo Drive, PowerFlex 527 Low Voltage AC Drive, and Remote Monitoring & IoT Services, all of which are embedding the needed software and architecture for enabling The Connected Enterprise.
It is worth noting that Rockwell Automation has consistently been promoting the concept of The Connected Enterprise since 2013 and this is the third TechED where the vision was front and center. Over this time Rockwell Automation should be applauded for moving from what was an aspirational vision to one that is being delivered on today through new products and partnerships. The Connected Enterprise has also proved to be a vision that has resonated with many end-users as they have pursued enterprise-wide digitization strategies as well as a vision that was ahead of the broader market trends with the IIoT, really only peaking over the past year or year-and-a-half.
Beyond the keynote and other discussions around The Connected Enterprise, there were a number of additional sessions and announcements worth discussing:
- The mobile and software teams continue to make strides in delivering new offerings both to internal and external customers across the product portfolio. In particular, Kyle Reissner, Mobility Platform Leader; Ryan Cahalane, Director, Software Product Management; and Mike Pantaleano, Business Manager, Information Software shared how the team is moving to provide a common mobility technology stack that will be available across the entire portfolio, including software like MES, EMI, and HMI as well as services like Remote Monitoring. The team also made some truly innovative announcements in the realm of edge computing and new concepts for using smart phones and tablets to not only provide connectivity, but also compute and analytics at the point of decision in manufacturing. Both moving to a common mobility toolkit across the portfolio as well as better leveraging the power of edge devices will help Rockwell Automation move the majority of the software portfolio to a mobile first delivery and development model as well as provide a common look and feel across the portfolio.
- Although much of TechED was thought leadership focused in nature, this is not to say the blocking and tackling of manufacturing technology deployment was ignored. One compelling end user presentation worth noting came from Dane Mooers, Controls Engineer ZFTRW, the world’s second largest automotive supplier. Dane walked the audience through a multi-year journey of using Manufacturing Intelligence software to provide visibility and analytics for identifying and resolving quality issues across manufacturing operations. Dane stressed the importance of visibility as well as the use of technology to change business process, culture, and ultimately behavior. In a three-year journey there was an over-25% improvement in OEE and now the deployment that was single-plant in nature is being considered as a model for use across the division and perhaps the entire enterprise.
- Another compelling presentation came from a Rockwell Automation partner, Kepware. Aron Semle, Product Owner at Kepware, shared why connectivity and information flow is so essential for enabling The Connected Enterprise and how IIoT technology can help enable this flow. He also spent time discussing the differences and similarities between connecting devices to applications in the cloud through gateways in industrial settings vs. consumer settings and the importance of industrial specific solutions for dealing with our specific set of protocols and machine data. This will continue to be an area of intense innovation and disruption as IIoT technology goes mainstream.
- One final observation from this year’s TechED involves Rockwell Automation’s move to viewing the value provided to customers as solutions, not products. Traditionally Rockwell Automation has been a product-centric company. As the company has grown and transformed to offer software and services alongside hardware, the move to being a solution provider has followed suit. Clearly Rockwell Automation views The Connected Enterprise as the main vehicle for communicating the value of the solutions offered, but even more can be done to tie the solutions offered to customer value. So far Rockwell Automation has done an admirable job in painting the high-level vision and moving from selling products to providing solutions. In future events, LNS Research would like to see Rockwell Automation go even further in this direction and begin the move from providing solutions to enabling business outcomes.
In our next post we will discuss Cisco Live event as well as the Rockwell Automation and Cisco alliance.
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