Yesterday was the media/analyst kick-off for the 28th Automation Fair event sponsored by Rockwell Automation. Piecing together information from my 1:1 interviews and presentations to the group, major themes for the week seem to be importance of partnerships, open connectivity, and historical OT expertise. Although Rockwell has made a few acquisitions, executives all emphasized the importance of partnerships for filling out the portfolio.

Rockwell Automation continues to show good growth in sales and profits. This week will set an attendance record with almost 20,000 attendees expected.

News releases

Rockwell and Accenture

Rockwell Automation and Accenture’s Industry X.0 announced plans to team up to develop a digital offering to help industrial clients move beyond existing manufacturing solutions to transform their entire connected enterprise.

The engagement is designed to capitalize on the expertise of both companies to deliver new capabilities for greater industrial supply chain optimization. By providing customers with a single, trusted provider of digital solutions, the collaboration will enable clients to more effectively leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and ultimately drive measurable growth outcomes.

To date, the collaboration has yielded, among other early-stage successes, a prototype for supply chain management designed to deliver supplier cost optimization and an improved ability to track the exact movements of products – two particularly important areas of investment for industrial companies seeking growth.

“Our customers are looking for measurable business outcomes when they invest in our software, products, and solutions. Together with Accenture, we will be able to help industrial companies quantify the financial benefits of their investment and to capture this value at speed and scale,” said Blake Moret, Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO. “By teaming up, we reduce complexity, reduce risk, and achieve better results with comprehensive enterprise-wide expertise.”

Rockwell Automation will provide industrial automation technology and domain expertise, including FactoryTalk InnovationSuite IIoT software, and analytics solutions. It will also bring network services, operational technology security, and application development, installation, integration and support.

Accenture will provide enterprise business and technical capabilities, including consulting, analytics, application development, systems integration, change management and support.

Rockwell Automation and ANSYS

Industrial companies now have access to a streamlined, holistic, end-to-end solution for design, automation, production and lifecycle management, thanks to a new strategic partnership between Rockwell Automation and ANSYS, a leader in simulation software.

ANSYS and Rockwell Automation will help customers design simulation-based digital twins of products, processes, or manufacturing. Historically manufacturers would dedicate time and money to develop and test physical product prototypes. Now customers can design and test through simulation to accelerate development and analysis, improving product quality, and reducing testing time across their organization.

Virtual simulation on the front-end of production is just one way customers save time and money. Co-innovation between Rockwell Automation and ANSYS allows customers to benefit through the entire digital thread. Once a machine or production line is running, manufacturers can create a digital twin of their full manufacturing process to create and test virtual “what-if” scenarios. This is crucial in the industrial space, where manufacturers need to change line configurations quickly to adjust to market demands. Now customers can understand an outcome without disrupting physical assets, resulting in faster time-to-market and large cost savings.

The partners believe in what these joint solutions can deliver. In fact, Rockwell Automation will accelerate its own internal new product and process development using ANSYS’ engineering simulation software. Rockwell Automation expects improved product quality and reduced testing time across the organization.

Digital Partner Program

Businesses that are digitally transforming their operations need an ecosystem of partners that can help them simplify technology deployments and quickly achieve goals like higher productivity. The new Rockwell Automation Digital Partner Program connects companies to expertise and solutions from market leaders like Accenture, Microsoft, PTC, ANSYS, and EPLAN to streamline the implementation and enhance the quality of digital initiatives.

Through the Digital Partner Program, businesses can consult with industry advisors to create roadmaps for their digital initiatives and learn how industrial IoT concepts like digital twin, the factory of the future and a connected workforce can improve their uptime and efficiency. During implementation, businesses will have access to integrated hardware, software and turnkey systems from industry leaders that improve business performance leveraging their existing assets.

Upcoming PlantPAx DCS System Release

From the control room to the board room, process system users face persistent challenges. Traditional and proprietary DCS systems are limited in their ability to modernize, which introduces risks and costs. Keeping equipment online can be difficult with limited system capabilities. Driving business improvements can be complicated and costly without access to key information.

The latest release of the PlantPAx distributed control system (DCS) was announced at the Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) event emphasizing each phase of the plant lifecycle. The release is planned for the summer of 2020.

This release introduces state-of-the-art process controllers that improve scalability and skid integration as well as provide a simplified, low-cost architecture due to higher controller performance. Embedded native process objects help reduce engineering costs and drive consistency in projects. New cybersecurity capabilities and system certifications help ensure safer and more secure operation.

“We have listened to a wide range of customers, including members of our customer advisory board, who identified the key issues driving their lifecycle costs,” said Jim Winter, director, Global Process Business, Rockwell Automation. “With PlantPAx 5.0, we extended the capability of our modern DCS approach and added innovative capabilities to deliver a smarter, higher performance, more cost effective, future-proofed system.”

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