I’ve had a very busy three days so far in Anaheim at the Rockwell Automation event Automation Fair. I arrived Monday in time for the general sessions of the Process Systems Users Group. There was a very respectable attendance of about 500. It’s really something to see the growth in process (long one of CEO Keith Nosbusch’s targets). It’s fair to say that it is becoming close to a “real” process company. Customers are starting to notice the big changes. Programming is moving toward the “configuration” model of traditional DCS vendors. Integration of various components from programming to asset management is moving along. Something interesting for you all to ponder–partner Endress + Hauser is showing a mass meter that communicates on EtherNet/IP. Hmm.

The Safety Automation Forum on Tuesday (jointly sponsored by Automation World and moderated by yours truly) attracted close to 200 people–who heard some outstanding presentations. Among which Mike Douglas of General Motors described getting a safety culture and process going at GM and Bryan Singer, chair of ISA99 and WG7 working on bringing safety and security ideas together, speaking on the interface of safety and security dropping some warnings and things to watch out for along the way.

Automation Fair itself was packed and full of energy yesterday. Rockwell people told me that they had about as many registrations as last year with 30% fewer Rockwell people as part of the mix. All this in a region not typically figured as Rockwell’s strongest area and with the economy still shaking out of its doldrums.

Nosbusch in his keynote to Tuesday’s media day (which I could only attend pieces of) and in a private interview, cited his six focus areas for the company: process, OEMs (including process OEMs, along with packaging, converting, material handling among others as target areas), safety, sustainability, information and emerging markets.

The most impressive thing I observed reflecting upon my many meetings (at least 8) over two days is the extent at which Keith and his team have molded an integrated vision and technology of the company. Only a few years ago each area was its own little fiefdom. Now you hear and see the results of integrating technologies and vision in every area of the company.

Another thing: fiscal year results came out this week. Overall revenues were down about 25% year over year, but cash position was even stronger than the year before. The company was still profitable despite the economy (although accountants can dither over details). And fourth quarter showed an increase over third quarter results–a trend I’m seeing develop among automation companies. We can all hope that trend continues.

More later. I’m about to be late for my next meeting

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