I finally got some time to collect my thoughts about Wednesday’s virtual conference. There was a bit of Rockwell Automation at the PTC LiveWorx. Wednesday was Rockwell’s turn with ROKLive–the latest, and virtual, iteration of its distributor education series RSTechED and RATechED.

At times over the years, journalists, editors, and writers were not invited to TechEDs. Then they invited us and we sat in sessions. They’ve tried a few executive education days during these events–usually June and usually alternating between Orlando and San Diego. This year was to have been co-located with new partner PTC’s event–until Covid-19 and quarantine.

I received an invitation and link to check out the Digital Transformation track. (Although a refresher on programming PLCs, networking, and drives would have been OK, too.)

This was pretty high level with former P&G vp and consultant Tony Saldanha, Microsoft’s Caglayan Arkan, Gartner’s, Ivar Berntz, LNS’s Matt Littlefield, Cisco’s Paul Didier, and at the end of the day two presenters from Rockwell, Mick Mancuso and Jeff Botsch. There were many more. Some time slots had two speakers and some had three.

A few speakers got pretty high-leveled, but many practical tips came out.

On the one hand, OEE came out a few times. I’m not a fan–mostly because of data collection methodology. You cannot use OEE as a comparison because within the formula are many definitions and common definitions plant-to-plant seldom exist. In fact, one Rockwell presenter acknowledged as much.

While Saldanha was speaking, he mentioned that MRP II (or its ideas) was still in widespread use. That is disheartening. I learned and implemented that way back in the late 70s. I’d hope that everyone had moved way past that by now.

Tips I gleaned from the talks

  • Be data driven
  • We’re benchmarking the wrong companies, you’re competitors are likely to be startups
  • When looking for digital transformation projects, look for the 10x opportunities
  • Focus on solving problems, not just applying technology
  • Consider business objectives first
  • People are key, and be aware of workforce issues such as turnover, retirements, training (and I should add diversity)
  • Key is to develop agile plants and agile supply chains
  • Develop healthy change management processes
  • Pay attention to governance issues

I have several more virtual conferences this week. I miss meeting the people, but these have not been as painful as I feared.

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