Every year as part of the Automation Fair experience for media and analysts, Rockwell Automation hosts a “Perspectives” forum on the Tuesday prior to the two-day trade show. Executive and guest experts discuss trends and technologies affecting manufacturing, production, and automation.This is a short introduction. I had two days of deep dives into technology. A bunch of posts to follow. The photo is a panel led by CTO and SVP Sujeet Chand.


This year’s event featured several Rockwell executives plus guest speakers from McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Cisco, and Georgia Tech. Reflecting a new mood within the company, the Architecture and Software group featured a couple of demos including some bantering and “gee whiz” moments. I have long felt that a technology company should show off some products that way. They did a good job–especially for a first effort.

Bob,Stemfels, senior partner, McKinsey & Company, gave a strategic overview presentation. “Digital disruption will fuel the next industrial revolution,” he noted. Some of the underlying drivers include increasing levels of data, ubiquitous connectivity, pervasive sensing, analytics driving understanding, and advance in cyber physical systems.

John Genovesi, vice president and general manager of Information Solutions and Process Solutions, provided an update on digitization in his areas. First, of course, Rockwell’s vision is based upon EtherNet/IP (did I hear “standard, unmodified Ethernet” again?). Genovesi pointed out that the cost of Ethernet is dropping enough so that devices of around $100 can be networked.

Fran Wlodarczyk, vp gm control and visualization, discussed Integrated Architecture. It is built on EtherNet/IP. They are working with “industry leading PLM suppliers” to build interfaces to integrate Design into the process. The Operate function is enhanced through analytics born in the automation system featuring self-aware devices. Maintain function is enhanced through the new TeamOne product—a mobile friendly app that incorporates chat, sharing pictures/videos and then also the thin client products added through the acquisition of ACP.

Scott Lapcewich, VP and GM of the Services business, discussed Connected Services–the latest addition to the Connected Enterprise. One of the key features about the offering involves managed services and remote services. These are sold on a subscription model involving operating budget monies while avoiding capital expenditure hassles. Network services, also involving Panduit, Cisco, and VMware, is the fastest growing segment.

There was more, but I’ll cover the topics discussed in depth later.

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