Automation Fair Attracts Large Crowd, Exhibits New Technology

There was Automation Fair and then meetings and then Thanksgiving. Plenty of time to digest everything I learned and experienced at Rockwell Automation’s event. They skipped 2020, of course. The 2021 event in Houston was abbreviated. This one held at Chicago’s McCormick Place resembled all the pre-Covid events. More than 15,000 attendees, lots of presentations and learning opportunities, and many Rockwell and partner exhibits.

I wrote a quick update with the themes I picked up. Here is a recap.


  • Emphasis on partners working together—specifically Festo, Zededa, Stratus
  • Connected Enterprise is still central, connectivity is everywhere
  • Cloud is everywhere
  • Use technology the right way
  • Enable humans to make better decisions

The big three things Rockwell spokespeople referenced were FactoryTalk Design Hub, FactoryTalk Edge, and cloud. The cloud discussion involved Design Hub, Plex, and Fiix. Plex, the cloud-based MES software replaced PTC as the focus of software discussion. PTC’s stand, though, with ThingWorx and Vuforia, was constantly busy—so much so that I never squeezed in for a talk. Fiix is the cloud-based CMMS package. I think these were meaningful acquisitions that will add value now and in the future.

Specifics — Rockwell Automation Products

FactoryTalk Design Hub

Transform automation design capabilities with a more simplified, productive way to work powered by the cloud. There are five core applications.

  • FactoryTalk Design Studio—cloud-native software product built from the ground up to improve system design efficiency. Teams can collaborate with automated tools to share and merge changes, and project sizes can scale dynamically with support for multiple controllers in a single project.
  • FactoryTalk Optix—addition to the visualization portfolio, the first cloud-enabled HMI product to be launched within FactoryTalk Design Hub. 
  • FactoryTalk Twin Studio—end-to-end automation design solution where users can design, program, simulate, emulate, and virtually commission in one cloud environment.
  • FactoryTalk Vault—secure, cloud-native centralized storage for manufacturing design teams. 
  • FactoryTalk Remote Access—enables secure connections to equipment. 

FactoryTalk Edge

An intelligent edge management and orchestration SaaS platform with an edge application ecosystem – based on zero trust security and open industry standards – accelerating digital transformation for industrial customers.

FactoryTalk Edge Gateway (FTEG)

Connects operational technology to informational technology. FTEG tools scan the EtherNet/IP network to discover devices. 

FactoryTalk Smart Object (FTSO)

A simplified way to organize data for easy collection by the controller and subsequent transfer to IIoT systems. The FTSO Config Tool creates the base code for the tags the user selects to be included in data models.

On Machine Products

  • ArmorKinetix distributed servo drives provide the Kinetix 5700 platform in a compact, On-Machine form factor.
  • ArmorBlock 5000 I/O—Distributed I/O blocks with IO-Link technology
  • Armor PowerFlex—A new generation of On-Machine VFD motor control solutions that provide an integrated, near-motor solution where reducing installation time and cost are most critical.

Specifics — Partners


  • With the Festo CPX-FB36 bus node now recognized by FTEG, basic diagnostic information from smart pneumatic devices such as Festo valve terminals and energy saving pneumatic devices are easily accessible.
  • Add-on instructions can be used by FTSO that access timestamp values for the extension and retraction of pneumatic cylinders. This information is accessible to FTEG.
  • Data collected by FTEG can be shared with Festo AX software, the new AI solution from Festo that can improve machine utilization and quality, lower waste, and ensure energy optimization. Festo AX provides a bridge between advanced analytics arising from operational technology, such as that collected by FTEG, and IT-based business intelligence. Festo AX can run directly on the system (on-edge), on servers (on-premises), or in the cloud.


Zededa announced a supply agreement with Rockwell Automation to provide distributed edge management and orchestration capabilities—incorporated as part of FactoryTalk edge management offering.

Automation Fair 2023 First Impression

The third day of my 25th Automation Fair by Rockwell Automation experience is winding up. I have many notes to sort through. New products. New initiatives. Many new people; many familiar people.

Many of my media colleagues are in San Francisco rather than Chicago. That company pays expenses. I’m keeping my expenses minor here.

Some initial key thoughts about this 31st edition of Automation Fair by Rockwell Automation:

  • Emphasis on partners working together
  • Connected Enterprise is still central, connectivity is everywhere
  • Almost two days elapsed before I heard “metaverse” (thank God)
  • Cloud is everywhere
  • Use technology the right way
  • Enable humans to make better decisions

Connectivity Solutions for Industrial Transformation

Hannover Messe 2022 will be an in-person event this year pushed back to the end of May. I still have not made plans to attend. I love going to Hannover, but it is an expensive trip for a one-person company (and probably just about any media company this year). The last trip I made before the Covid lockdowns in 2020 was to Hannover for the show preview. This year I attended the preview from my office virtually.

Following is news from the preview from The HARTING Technology Group which will be featuring its “Connectivity+” solutions to digitalization and sustainability. According to Christopher Ukatz, Managing Director of HARTING Deutschland GmbH, “This is all about factoring in societal megatrends: Sustainability, (de)globalisation and demographic change, as well as deriving the relevant technology: Modularisation, autonomy and digital twins. Under the umbrella term Connectivity+, products, solutions, services and applications are presented that are aligned with technological and social megatrends and thereby provide answers to the challenges of the future. The fact that this is not a theoretical construct makes the added value focus for customers all the more clearer.”

The focus [at the stand] is on joint brainstorming, dialoguing, and exchanging ideas on the connectivity of the future. Stand visitors can make an appointment in advance. Christopher Ukatz adds: “This is where the discussion on different technology approaches will take place. Customers can take the storyboard created by an industrial designer with them straight away. Our innovators look forward to meeting up with you!”

Topics that are more relevant than ever before, will be on the HARTING stand under the heading of “All for Energy”: Energy efficiency and decarbonisation are both strongly linked to Connectivity+ and this year’s orientation of the Hannover Messe. Control cabinet applications involving the Han Eco and its targeted use as an interface in data centres, as well as transformer or converter applications are the driving forces in this area.

Another exhibit area is dedicated to eMobility topics and shows the complete range of charging infrastructure: From the charging station for home use to the rapid charging station. Also worth a look: the HARTING product portfolio that at work inside a charging station. From PCB connectors to current sensors and network components, HARTING provides solutions that reduce installation times, support modular concept design and elevate safety levels.

In the exhibition area of small connectors for the topics All for Ethernet, All for PCB and 3D MID, the focus will naturally be on Single Pair Ethernet, also a Connectivity+ solution that is both resource-saving and highly efficient at the same time: From sensors to the cloud with just two wires. SPE creates a seamless data infrastructure and unlocks previously hidden optimisation potential in factory automation.

The PushPull locks highlighted and the associated application examples also clearly demonstrate the added value of modern quick-action locks.

New Dates for Hannover Messe

I guess we need to develop a flexible mindset for conferences and forums (fora?) this year. First the ARC Industry Forum, now Hannover Messe. I have made no plans for this one due to the uncertainty of international travel, well, also due to cost. Now, it’s in May, the week before ARC. It could be a busy late spring and summer.

This from the organizers:

Together with our exhibitors, we were already looking forward to a great restart of #HM22 in April. The longing to finally meet again in person is great. Unfortunately, however, the pandemic keeps the world in suspense continuously.

Due to the current worldwide situation, we have rescheduled this year’s HANNOVER MESSE for 30 May –2 June 2022. 

We made this decision in close cooperation with our exhibitor advisory board and partner associations VDMA (Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering) and ZVEI (Central Association of German Electrical Engineering and Digital Industry).

Experience shows that summer is best for face-to-face events, so the new date offers all participants the greatest possible safety and planning security. Taking into account the current concentration of events in the summer months, as well as vacation and travel times, HANNOVER MESSE will be carried out once as a four-day event.

We will provide further information soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to update your travel plans to Hannover. Please contact us with any questions.

We look forward to seeing you this summer!


ARC Forum Postponed Until June

You may already know, but the widespread outbreak (again) of Covid has forced ARC Advisory Group take the safer road and wait for (hopefully) a better disease climate. Following is its press release.

To ensure the safety of our customers, partners, and employees, the ARC Industry Forum 2022, originally planned to be held in Orlando, Florida on February 14-17, will be postponed to June 6-9, 2022. We know you share our enthusiasm for this learning and networking event and hope you will be able to join us at the same venue in June.

The Forum venue will remain the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. We believe that the COVID situation will be much improved in June for us to have a more meaningful learning and networking experience. Those of you who have already registered for the Forum, your registration will be valid for the June Forum, and you do not need to register again.

Those of you who have already made your hotel reservation, it will be cancelled by the hotel. You should receive an email from the hotel regarding the room cancellation with a link to make your room reservation for the June Forum. Please let us know if the new dates do not work for you for any reason, we would be happy to refund your registration fee.

Our in-person Forum will be followed by an online Forum on June 20-23. Those of you who have registered for the online Forum, your registration will be valid for the new dates.

We will provide more details as we get closer to the Forum dates. Please contact us if we can answer any questions or provide any more details regarding the new dates. We look forward to working with you to make this Forum a successful learning and networking experience for all of us.

35th International Maintenance Conference and Reliability Digital Transformation Conference

Now that I’ve attended one in-person trade show and conference, I’m ready for a few more. I met Terrence O’Hanlon almost 20 years ago at a conference he assembled in Chicago at Rosemont. It was impressive for a small-ish magazine called Maintenance Technology. I didn’t know that I had met the real Terry, though. That came later after my brush with trying to revitalize that magazine and conference.

Since that time, O’Hanlon has brought together an association, website, magazine, and some awesome conferences. His annual large one is coming up in December at Marco Island in Florida. I keep threatening him with coming down and attending. This may be the year. My interests intersect with his in a Venn Diagram sort of way. I’m interested in exploring how IT technologies intersect with industrial technologies in order to improve operations and profitability solving tough problems in production and manufacturing.

If you are coming down, and you should, ping me and let’s meet for a coffee or other adult beverage while discussing the changes impacting us and how we’ll solve tomorrow’s problems.

Following is information about the two conferences held concurrently.

35th International Maintenance Conference

The 35th International Maintenance Conference (IMC) provides a fresh, positive community-based curated experience to gain knowledge and perspective for advancing reliability and asset management through people, their managers, the processes, the data and the technology.

Using examples from the world’s best-run companies and leaders who provide a new view of maintenance, reliability and asset management that results in attendees discovering new ways to advance their organizations that had not occurred to them in the past. 

It is about learning how to knock on the door of the “don’t know what we don’t know” knowledge domain and being open to important ideas from others with a mindset of inquiry and discovery.

Mission: Providing opportunities for attendees to discover ways to advance safety, sustainability and success in the workplace aligned to organization objects and aims.

Vision: Connect the people, the knowledge, the technology and the experience of the International Maintenance Conference community and nurture that learning opportunity 365 days per year.


Much of the context, structure and ideas for the International Maintenance Conference is based on the Uptime Elements Reliability Framework and Asset Management System which is in use at over 6,000 organizations with more than 3,700 active Certified Reliability Leaders and practitioners.


Asset Managers, Reliability Leaders, Maintenance Professionals and Operational Managers from the world’s best-run companies.

Attendees are invited to set a goal to create an activated asset management strategy and plan to be executed in an engaged, cross-functional, culture of reliability [leadership] based on what you learn and who you meet at IMC.

The RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference

The world’s best run companies are connecting the workforce, management, assets and data to automate asset knowledge that can be leveraged for huge and beneficial decisions.

According to a 2021 Digitalization Study for Asset Management and Reliability, less than 40 percent of organizations have a formal policy, strategy or plan for digital transformation in the context of reliability and asset management. When combined with data that shows that 70 percent of digitalization projects fail to generate sustainable business success when missing a formal policy, strategy and plan, the RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference exists to amply digitalization success.

Using examples from the world’s best-run companies and leaders who provide a new view for leveraging technology to connect asset data, information and knowledge with the workforce and their managers to make better maintenance, reliability and asset management decisions for a better operation tomorrow.

It is about being open to new ideas with a mindset of inquiry and discovery.

Mission: Providing opportunities for attendees to discover ways to enhance reliability and asset management opportunities by creating new digital business models built on elastic, evergreen connected data environments, digital twins and metaverses in new ways that had not occurred to them in the past. 

Vision: Connect the people, the knowledge, the technology, and the experience of the RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference and nurture that competency development opportunity 365 days per year.


Much of the context, structure, and ideas for the RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference is based on Uptime Elements IT/OT Knowledge Domain and Digitalization Framework, originally created through a virtual Special Interest Group (vSIG). There is a revised body of knowledge currently being created by the Reliability Leadership Foundation (RLF) Digitalization Consortium, who will be actively involved in contributing to the RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference.


Professionals who collaborate across operational technology [OT], information technology [IT] and engineering technology [ET] from the world’s best-run companies to advance reliability and asset management.

RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference attendees are invited to set a target to create the foundation of an activated asset management strategy and plan executed in an engaged, cross-functional, culture of reliability [leadership] enabled by digitalization business models based on what you learn and who you meet at RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference.