Rockwell Automation’s consistent theme for more than ten years concerns the connected manufacturing enterprise. RSTechED, the annual Rockwell Software user conference and training session, kicked off its 17th editon this week in Orlando with a record attendance greater than 1,900. The reality of the connected manufacturing enterprise is gaining ever more critical mass.
Frank Kulaszewicz, Rockwell Sr. VP Architecture and Software, said in his keynote address that the industry is in a digital inflection point. Control systems are smarter and connected increasing the opportunity for value improvements. He cited estimates that $3.8 trillion of value has already been created with Industrial Internet of Things.
More interesting was the story of “eating your own dogfood.” Bob Murphy, Rockwell VP of Operations discussed the manufacturing challenges that Rockwell itself has—and how his team restructured operations to improve productivity and responsiveness using Rockwell’s own MES products.
Rockwell’s manufacturing operations deal with the complexity of manufacturing about 387,000 SKUs, many of which items are configurable or even engineered-to-order. Then the company implemented one ERP across the operations—SAP.
The team restructured the supply chain in addition to the SAP roll out. They discovered the system needed clear visibility into all operations across its 20 plants. Existing systems made it hard to compare and contrast. The team created a plan, dedicated resources and developed a detailed playbook for how to execute the restructuring.
The implemented system stood on three pillars: People, Processes, Technologies.
They combined high caliber, localized engineers with centralized experts. They localized operator workflows, achieved collaboration of manufacturing IT and corporate IT. Domain experts were gathered into a common organization.
The processes pillar included centralized strategy with global standardization that tied configuration to metrics.
FactoryTalk Production Center formed the technology platform for enabling the global standardization as well as managing complex operations.