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Rockwell Automation Names New CEO, Announces Growth Strategy

On Dec. 4, Rockwell Automation announced that its board of directors has elected Keith Nosbusch as president and chief executive officer.

Nosbusch takes over CEO duties from Don Davis, who will retain his role as chairman of Rockwell Automation, effective Feb. 4, 2004, and following the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Said Davis, “Keith Nosbusch brings leadership, experience, an unmatched passion for excellence and a demonstrated track record of success to this position.”

Nosbusch, 52, began his career in 1974 as an Allen-Bradley application engineer, was promoted to controls engineer, and served as senior vice president, Control and Information Group, where he was responsible for the launch of Rockwell Automation’s ControlLogix integrated control and information platform. In 1998, he was appointed president of Rockwell Automation Control Systems. Commented Nosbusch, “Rockwell Automation has everything it takes—a talented management team, dedicated employees, technology leadership, financial strength and leading market positions—to continue to prosper in the global industrial automation market.”

According to company spokesperson, Steve Smith, there are no plans to replace Nosbusch in his current role. Rather, the executives from the three Rockwell Automation Control Systems operating units—Components and Packaged Applications, Automation Control and Information Group, and Global Manufacturing Solutions—will report directly to Nosbusch. Davis will continue in an advisory role as company chairman for an unspecified period of time.

Rockwell’s growth strategy

During the Rockwell Automation Global Media Summit, held in Milwaukee on November 17, in conjunction with the Allen-Bradley Automation Fair 2003, Davis summarized global market trends and growth opportunities. Davis noted that U.S. manufacturing growth over the past four months was the strongest in three years, and this is reflected in Rockwell Automation’s financial performance. Sales for fiscal 2003 (ending Sept. 30, 2003) were up 5 percent to $4.1 billion, and operating earnings were up 19 percent over 2002.

One of manufacturing’s “megatrends,” said Davis, is that manufacturers want to shorten suppliers’ lead times and speed delivery of products to their customers.This is driving the need to vertically connect the factory floor with the supply chain through information integration and flexible manufacturing. According to Davis, the integrated architecture of the Logix platform expands Rockwell Automation’s market opportunities for batch, processing, motion and discrete control.

Growth initiatives for the Control Systems group, which represents $3.3 billion in 2003 revenue, include safety applications, process solutions, asset management and information solutions. A five-year compound annual growth rate of 8 percent is predicted to result from market and share growth, growth initiatives and acquisitions.

GMS key to growth

In a private interview with Automation World editors, John McDermott, senior vice president of Global Manufacturing Solutions, outlined growth plans for his division. With revenues of approximately $700 million, GMS represents about 20 percent of Rockwell Automation Control Systems and has a growth target of 16 to 18 percent per year.

GMS is the product support arm of Rockwell Automation, and, said McDermott, is more than a Rockwell-centric operation. “An area of growth for us is in providing asset management solutions and services to manufacturers so they can optimize and maintain all of their assets more effectively.” McDermott said that GMS needs to engage its customers in a discussion of business problems, and develop solutions that address those issues. “Manufacturers need to make more products using the same assets, or may even need to divest themselves of some of their assets.”

GMS is targeting several key markets to develop integrated automation and information technology solutions. These markets include automotive, food and beverage, life sciences and pharmaceuticals.

GMS maintains a Rockwell Automation Customer Support Center near Cleveland that McDermott said uses best-in-class call center technology. During last summer’s power outages that impacted the area, a back-up generator and redundant systems kept technicians available without interruption.

The call center is one of several support systems offered by Rockwell. Another is a spare parts monitoring system, called Rockwell Automation Asset Management Program (RAAMP). The interesting thing about these programs, said McDermott, is the tight collaboration required between Rockwell and its customers. “In some cases, we have personnel on-site at the manufacturer to provide service and support,” he added.

Jane Gerold

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