blake-moret-2016There is a discernible change in atmosphere around Rockwell Automation these days. The statement is not meant in anyway to reflect on former President and CEO (and still chairman) Keith Nosbusch. Newly elected President and CEO Blake Moret appears to be settling in to the new role, and he brings a distinctly new personality to leadership.

I was greatly honored that due to some schedule changes that created disruption with the usual media interviews on Tuesday he still worked out some time late Monday afternoon for a private interview.

When I left my last position, I searched for a focus and name for a new, Web-based media site. The Manufacturing Connection made the most sense—and I could get the domain name. Then I went to the first Rockwell Automation event following and found a new theme—Connected Enterprise. We’re all thinking about the importance of connections.

Moret started with the Connected Enterprise theme. His vision for the company’s direction includes and expands upon the theme. It’s not only EtherNet/IP (they still talk about “standard, unmodified Ethernet”). Networking is important. Beyond the network are connecting people, projects, services.

Not only did Moret present the importance of the Information Solutions business, the topic came up later in a general session. Rockwell has definitely grown the capabilities of its software solutions. Its analytics capabilities appear to be robust (Rockwell is using it internally in its own manufacturing processes) with the goal of continually improving its ease of use.

The foundation of Rockwell Automation’s Connected strategy lies with plant floor devices. “Since the majority of devices come from us,” Moret said, “we can connect easily to obtain the information necessary for the MES and enterprise levels.”

Several integrators pinged me before my trip to ask me to investigate the repercussions of the acquisition of system integrator Maverick Technologies. “We’ve always had a dual approach,” Moret told me. (That reminded me of my sales engineer days in the 90s when I had Rockwell quote a couple of projects as the integrator.) “We have no intention of walking away from our partners. But there are customers who want a single source of responsibility. We can handle those projects now.”

“And, by the way,” he added, “we doubled the number of Chemical Engineers in the company with this acquisition. We added a lot of domain expertise.”

The transition seems to be smooth so far. Leadership changes are a critical event in an organization. Handled well, the organization gains renewed vitality and direction. Rockwell Automation is on the right path.

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