“This year's theme is Smart, Safe and Sustainable,” Keith Nosbusch, Rockwell Automation Inc. chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), told a gathering of international press as Manufacturing Perspectives, the prelude to Automation Fair, kicked off on Nov. 2 at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center. Stressing the use of industry standards, Nosbusch said that customers of the Milwaukee-based automation supplier are looking for plant-wide optimization, sustainable production and machine builder performance. “We are unique in our ability to deliver the entire requirement,” he added.
In addition to the previously reported registered attendance of 640 at the Process Solutions User Group on Nov. 1-2, Rockwell (www.rockwellautomation.com) announced a crowd in excess of 11,000 attended the two-day Automation Fair trade show and training sessions Nov. 3-4. Attendees could browse 10 large Rockwell exhibits and 98 partner booths.
During a series of one-on-one interviews with Rockwell executives, Automation World Editor in Chief Gary Mintchell asked Nosbusch about his visibility on the speaker circuit in Washington, D.C., trying to stir up action on a national manufacturing policy. “Manufacturing is important to an economy,” Nosbusch said. “It’s not just about jobs, it’s about the overall strength of the economy. We need a strong manufacturing sector for wealth creation. It’s the role of government in setting the environment for manufacturing. We need to raise awareness.” To a follow up question asking why, as CEO of a global company, he doesn’t speak globally, Nosbusch replied, “Other countries [already] know manufacturing is important.”
In another exclusive interview, Sujeet Chand, Rockwell senior vice president and chief technology officer, said, “We need to position manufacturing as technology-intensive to make it more attractive. We’re doing model-based control, using Ethernet, developing many new technologies. There are many areas that remain for innovation and development. Take sensors, for example. You need them for information from manufacturing. Perhaps we could sense bacteria in tomato sauce or many other types of sensors. Customers are focusing more on advanced control, and you need to measure in order to apply the control. It’s an exciting time to be in manufacturing.”
Some significant products unveiled at Automation Fair included a new release of the Logix control platform, high availability/redundant Ethernet networks, a layer 3 Ethernet switch that supports virtual local area networks, new Panelview visualization products and embedded FactoryTalk ViewPoint that enables Web-based visualization clients.
At the Nov. 1-2 Process Solutions Users Group (PSUG) conference, one opening day speaker noted that, at 640 attendees, it was the largest PSUG ever. While some might expect that most attendees would come from consumer packaged goods (CPG), or perhaps pharmaceutical companies, attendees also came from oil and gas, and pulp and paper industries. This may be seen as another indication of the growth in the process industry segment for Rockwell, which was historically known for its strength in the discrete manufacturing industries.
The first announcement of PSUG was that Ken Deken, vice president of product portfolio, and the executive charged with developing the process business, is retiring. Ralph Carter, who has been heading the information software group since joining Rockwell with the acquisition of Pavilion three years ago, will assume responsibility for heading the process automation business, along with his software duties.
John Nesi, vice president of market development, presented Rockwell’s position on plant-wide optimization. Nesi first told the group that Rockwell has been investing in four specific areas—process, software, safety and solutions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Plant-wide optimization includes integrated technologies and solutions designed to gather information and deliver it to appropriate systems and people.
Nesi also addressed key points of challenge for attendees that included globalization, sustainability, productivity and innovation. Specifically, he linked sustainability and productivity into sustainable production, and to a new service from Rockwell—Industrial Greenpoint, a patented service designed to help customers achieve their sustainability goals.
Larry O’Brien, research director at ARC Advisory Group Inc. (www.arcweb.com), Dedham, Mass., presented attendees with several challenges that his research has uncovered in the process industries. These are people (recruitment, training), safety (building a safety culture), plant-wide optimization (information), installed base (migrating to modern control), operations and integrating commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products.
Stay the course
Som Chakraborti, Process Business director for Rockwell, presented an overview of the process business and a technology roadmap of where the company has come from over the past five to six years. There is no doubt that the company has progressed a long way in the process business on its way to becoming a serious competitor in the market. O’Brien noted that Rockwell now appears in the ARC list of top distributed control systems (DCS) suppliers. Chakraborti also announced new products, including Release 2.0 of PlanPAx, Rockwell’s DCS solution. New features include high availability, greater device integration and asset management, design productivity, batch and sequencing control advances and operations productivity.
Rockwell Automation Inc.
ARC Advisory Group Inc.