The growth of services is blurring the relationships between companies. Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, for instance, supplies automation control components and services to Getinge USA Inc., a Rochester, N.Y., manufacturer of equipment for sterilization and disinfection used by large pharmaceutical and bioscience manufacturers. But Rockwell Automation and Getinge also have customers in common. Both show up to install automation systems at pharmaceutical manufacturers. “Basically, Rockwell has gone from a supplier of equipment to offering us a partnership with the end goal of supplying state-of-the-art support that our customers are requesting,” says Jan Pingel, director of software and automation systems at Getinge.
The partnership—which the suppliers entered into last May—blends the service offerings of the two companies. “Our software is designed to work with Getinge’s machines and integrate it into the manufacturing execution system,” says Tim Lehner, an account manager at Rockwell Automation. “We work with Getinge to provide integration into plant-wide MES systems.”
This partnership demonstrates the degree to which services have become a central factor in automation. The companies integrated their individual products, control equipment and sterilization equipment, to support Getinge’s manufacturing. But the resulting integrated system becomes a valuable package for manufacturers that use Getinge’s sterilization equipment as part of their plant automation. So Rockwell Automation and Getinge walk into the plant with their services hand-in-hand. “It’s a mutual sharing with customers,” explains Pingel. “There is sharing of knowledge between the two companies.”