Kevin Roach, vice president, software, at Rockwell Automation Inc., the Milwaukee-based automation supplier, focused on innovation and technology during his early-morning keynote June 2 at the 11th annual edition of the Rockwell Software technical education gathering in Orlando, Fla. During his keynote and in a subsequent private interview with Automation World, Roach discussed the three streams of innovation that fuel Rockwell’s current product offering.
In the course of Roach’s three and a half-year tenure with Rockwell, the company has invested about $500 million in internal software development, he noted. Adding to that are the string of acquisitions the company has made, Roach said, pointing especially to the recent acquisitions of Pavilion Technologies, a provider of advanced process control software, and Incuity Software, an Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence solutions provider. In fact, the Incuity solution took the spotlight during the keynote, as Roach demonstrated “mash ups” of different applications that yielded specialized role-based dashboards for everyone from executives to line operators. The third stream of innovation historically used by Rockwell for growth and innovation involves partnering with other companies—this in itself a wave of the future.
Speaking of the future, the celebrity keynote address was by the author of “Future Shock” and “The Third Wave,” among many books—Alvin Toffler. Toffler explained the three waves of economic organization that he said have determined the source of economic wealth for societies during human history. The first wave was agriculture, where land was the source of wealth. When men began figuring out how to make things faster than possible with craftsmen, the manufacturing wave was born. We are now in the birth moments of the third wave—knowledge.
The implications of a society where wealth is based on knowledge are huge, Toffler noted. Boundaries, such as national borders, become less important, for example. Time matters less in the sense of having to show up for “work” at a certain time. On the other hand, things are happening faster, and knowledge work can border on 24 hours per day. Toffler congratulated the audience of over 1,600 for being at the front of the knowledge revolution.
During Roach’s keynote, he foreshadowed the coming announcement of two significant products to be formally unveiled at Automation Fair—Rockwell Automation’s Users Group event—in November in Nashville. “ViewPoint,” a zero-administration client, is based on Microsoft’s new Silverlight technology. It will provide both operator interface as well as engineering interface into Rockwell Software products. “FactoryTalk Historian ME” was predicted almost 18 months ago at the Automation Fair of 2006, when the partnership of Rockwell Software and OSIsoft, the historian supplier based in San Leandro, Calif., was announced. This product is a historian in a ControlLogix module.
Rockwell Automation Inc.