Software Investments—Looking Beyond the Surface

Software Investments—Looking Beyond the Surface

Rockwell Automation through Blake Moret, chairman and CEO, invested $1 billion in PTC with Moret gaining a seat on the board. The public reason was really to get early information about ThinkWorx, the IIoT product.

The investment valued PTC, a company with $1 billion in sales, at approximately $17 billion. On the surface, we all pondered why.

Speeding up the time, I was able to spend a couple of hours with several people from PTC at last week’s Automation Fair event. This really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the ThingWorx offering. There is much technology and usefulness under the hood. This is powerful software.

Now, I understand. Beyond a relationship and most likely some preferential access to ThingWorx and other PTC technologies, I’m surmising that Rockwell Automation can also drop some visualization projects, cut development costs, and utilize the full value of the PTC software. That alone would be a good return on the investment.

Therefore, the most prominent branding at Automation Fair–Powered by PTC.

Revealing more of Rockwell’s piece-at-a-time partnering strategy, it is not using PTC’s CAD and PLM offerings for its digital twin development, but instead it is partnering with ANSYS.

Like I noted in my initial report on Automation Fair, partnering was the centerpiece of news from the event. Looks like it is also the centerpiece of product development. That is most likely financially prudent.

Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Automation, Innovation, Funding news from Rockwell Automation, IoT Partners Research, Dell EMC IoT, Schneider Electric Ventures

Rockwell Automation

I started going to Automation Fair in 1997. This is the first year I have missed. I could be in any of four different venues this week. Used to be that Rockwell had the week to itself. No longer. I am not there because I don’t like Rockwell. Business considerations are taking me a different direction. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on IoT, data, solving business problems at the Industry of Things World-East forum in Orlando. I thought about a huge tour of three cities. Then I thought again.

I posted news from Rockwell Automation yesterday about its recent collaboration with PTC. I haven’t seen anything newer coming out yet from my sources.

ABI Research

In its recent analysis ranking 547 companies on their IoT service capabilities, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that partner programs and their member companies are continuing to mature in their IoT offerings while simultaneously decreasing the average number of members per partner program.

In fact, 65% of listed organizations received a high IoT maturity grade, which is nearly 2½ times the number of organizations that received a high maturity ranking when ABI Research first analyzed these IoT ecosystems back in September 2015. Partner program parents such as Amazon Web Services, Dell, and IBM are aligning themselves with fewer, higher-value partners who can better help end-users navigate the convoluted IoT ecosystem.

Partner program parents need to ensure that their partners can effectively address the current major needs of the market while also addressing high-growth niche vertical markets, with companies like Dell and AWS showing that it’s possible to address these changing market dynamics without being encumbered by hundreds of partners. AWS’ IoT Competency program ensures that its partners have a high-depth of IoT expertise to meet end-user needs, while Dell’s IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem is focused on having both technology and services partners who can address specific use cases.

The three most targeted verticals within these partner program ecosystems have consistently been healthcare, manufacturing, and energy applications, but over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of partners offering solutions targeting the digital signage, wearable, and smart building markets due to end-user demand.

FogHorn Partners With Dell EMC OEM Solutions

Speaking of partnerships, this came in today. FogHorn, a developer of edge intelligence software for industrial and commercial IoT applications, announced a collaboration with Dell EMC OEM Solutions to deliver end-to-end Industrial IoT (IIoT) edge computing solutions. This collaboration allows industrial and commercial customers to leverage the power of the edge quickly with an out-of-the-box solution for their Industrial IoT (IIoT) deployments – providing real-time insights to streamline operations and improve business outcomes.

By integrating FogHorn’s Lightning edge computing technology to solutions from Dell EMC, industrial and commercial customers now have access to preconfigured gateways and other devices that simplify IoT deployments. These “edgified” solutions allow clients to deploy edge computing at various end-point locations quickly, wherever the power of edge computing is needed.

Schneider Electric Ventures

Schneider Electric, who also has an event this week, has announced “Schneider Electric Ventures”, which identifies, nurtures and supports innovations that will make a major contribution to future sustainability and energy efficiency. Several major projects are underway and ready to be deployed.

‘Schneider Electric Ventures’ nurtures tomorrow’s transformational and disruptive technologies according to the press release.

The company spends €1 billion a year on R&D; and EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform is at the cutting edge of connected energy management and industrial automation.

A few months ago, the company created “Schneider Electric Ventures”. The mission of this initiative is to identify, support and nurture companies and entrepreneurs whose innovations will transform the way we live and work, how we produce and consume energy, and how we run buildings and factories.

Schneider Electric Ventures supports innovation through:

  • Funding
  • Incubation
  • Partnerships

At its Innovation Summit North America, Schneider Electric announced some projects developed by “Schneider Electric Ventures”. These projects include:

  • eIQ Mobility, a start-up and spinoff from Schneider Electric Incubator, which enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing “Electric Fleet as a Service ” to large commercial fleets.
  • Clipsal Solar, a business venture for on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia, where 1.8 million homeowners have installed solar panels to help manage their energy bills. The market is forecasted to grow with additional 134,000 homes by 2021.
  • Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, focused on fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000, and business and technical resources they need to launch successful ventures.

Through its different investment vehicles, Schneider Electric also made equity investments in six companies:

  • Sense, the leader in load disaggregation technology
  • Element Analytics, a leader in industrial big data analytics
  • Habiteo, a 3D specialist for new residential housing
  • QMerit, the “Uber” for contractors & MRO spend
  • KGS, a predictive engine for just-in-time maintenance
  • Claroty, the leading Cybersecurity company for industrial OT networks

Schneider Electric has committed to invest between 300 and 500 million euros in the coming years, in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and welcomes ideas from innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their ideas into reality.

Veterans, Women, Youth Featured at Rockwell Automation Event

Veterans, Women, Youth Featured at Rockwell Automation Event

Rockwell has had a strong training program for many years. I took my first week-long class in 1991 or 1992. Altogether I have taken about six classes—controls, PLCs, drives, motor control centers, software. I know how intense the training can be.

Last week I posted a podcast of thoughts from Rockwell Automation’s annual series of events held the week prior to Thanksgiving. Now I’m in Spain at yet another conference and trying to get caught up on posts before I start a flurry of posts from here.

So first—training, diversity, and education.

When the company showed off some graduates of its new Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and they talked about the intensity of the three month program, memories came back.

Veterans

ManpowerGroup and Rockwell Automation celebrated the first military veterans to graduate from the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and secure high-paying jobs in the rapidly-evolving manufacturing industry.

The 12-week program launched in August combines classroom learning with hands-on laboratory experience. Veterans are trained in Rockwell Automation’s state-of-the art facility in Mayfield Heights, Ohio for in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing. All of the graduates have job offers and more than half have multiple job offers that significantly increase — some graduates even doubling — their previous salaries.

“This program felt like it was made just for me,” says Travis Tolbert, U.S. Navy veteran and academy graduate. “It focused on controls and automation, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, but was never able to do until now. The academy helped me take my military skills and understand how I could make them relevant for jobs outside of the Navy.”

“In recognition of Veterans Day, on behalf of Rockwell and ManpowerGroup, we thank all our veterans for their service,” said Blake Moret, CEO of Rockwell Automation. “We are honored to recognize our first military veterans to graduate the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing. We’ve seen their unique combination of core work and tech-savvy skills evolve to successfully position them for careers in the industry. We’re confident this program will help solve a challenge critical to the growth of advanced manufacturing.”

If the accomplishments and future prospects of these veterans didn’t bring a tear or two, you had to have no feelings.

Women

Rockwell Automation has been announced as a 2017 Catalyst Award winner. The Catalyst Award honors innovative organizational approaches that address the recruitment, development and advancement of women and have led to proven, measurable results.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition from Catalyst for our Culture of Inclusion journey, demonstrating our commitment to our employees, customers and community,” said Moret. “Our people are the foundation of our company’s success, and so we must create an environment where employees can and want to do their best work every day.”

The Culture of Inclusion journey began in 2007 with senior leaders renewing their commitment to diversity, inclusion and engagement. This was in response to employee data showing that women and people of color at the company had lower retention rates than white men, and there were gaps in the levels of representation for key demographics. A driving force of this strategy is the knowledge that in order to effect sustainable change, the dominant group—in this case, white men—must be aware of the impact of their privilege, be engaged, and partner with women and underrepresented groups in a meaningful way.

Results: Between 2008 and 2016, women’s representation in the U.S. increased from 11.9% to 23.5% among vice presidents, from 14.7% to 23.2% among directors, and from 19.3% to 24.3% at the middle-manager level. At the most senior leadership levels, women’s representation doubled, increasing from 11.1% to 25.0% among the CEO’s direct reports and from 11.1% to 20.0% on the board of directors. In addition, the Rockwell Automation voluntary turnover is well below the benchmark average for women.

Youth

On the Automation Fair show floor, Jay Flores, Rockwell Automation global STEM ambassador, led me on a tour of the FIRST Robotics area and explained how Rockwell is continuing its commitment to the program.

It announced a $12M, four-year commitment to FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

Over the past 10 years, Rockwell Automation has provided more than $15M of broad-based support to address the critical need to fill science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs that drive innovation. Many of these jobs go unfilled because of both the lack of awareness of the kinds of high-tech jobs available and the lack of skills to qualify for today’s needs.

“Through our technology and people, we are helping to inspire the next generation of innovators to fill the talent pipeline for our customers and for our company,” said Moret. “Our strategic partnership with FIRST helps us increase our reach and visibility to STEM students around the world.”

In addition to being a global sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League program and sole sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award, nearly 200 Rockwell Automation employees around the world donate their time for the FIRST programs, and more than 300 employees volunteer for the organization in other capacities. The company also donates products integral to FIRST program games and scoring. These product donations are specifically used for the FIRST Robotics Competition playing fields and scoring systems, and they are included within the parts kits teams use to build their robots.

“This generous, multiyear commitment from Rockwell Automation will allow us to focus on the strategic aspects of our partnership while continuing to help scale our programs and expose students to a broader range of industry-leading products and applications,” said Donald E. Bossi, president, FIRST. “The company has a long, rich history of supporting FIRST.”

Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Festo All About Connectivity at Automation Fair

Rockwell Automation was all about Connected Enterprise at Automation Fair 2016. Festo joined in the fun showcasing seamless connectivity with Rockwell Automation’s factory automation and process automation architectures in such areas as:

  • IO-Link Premier Integration
  • Ethernet/IP
  • Integrated Architecture Builder (IAB)
  • Studio 5000 Software with L5K export
  • World class training

Ethernet/IP is the primary interface node for Festo pneumatic solutions, which now extends to the sensor level with process data, service data, and events information because of IO-Link Premier Integration. The IO-Link section of the Festo Flexible and Modular Automation exhibit features products that facilitate top down/bottom up integration.

Encompass products on display include the Festo CTEU bus node for easily adding Fieldbus connectivity to pneumatic valve terminals. Fieldbus connectivity to valve terminals also significantly reduces installation and engineering costs. The CTEU bus node inexpensively integrates Rockwell PLCs with multiple Festo valve terminal models, including MPA-L and the VTUG. Since a single CTEU node serves two valve terminals, it contributes to lower inventory requirements and simplifies logistics.

The MPA-L is a modular valve terminal suitable for most pneumatic applications for discrete and process automation. The high flow rate to size ratio makes for universal applications from food and beverage packaging to semiconductor fabrication. MPA-L can run pressure and vacuum, with multiple zones. The VTUG is an electrical terminal for solenoid valves. It provides diagnostics via fieldbus and has up to 24 valve positions. Festo valve terminals offer two functions on a single valve positon for greater functionality in a small footprint terminal.

Also on display are the IO-Link integrated SDAT analog sensor for reporting the piston position of a pneumatic cylinder and the VPPM proportional pressure regulator with IO-Link for greater data transfer and diagnostic information availability. IO-Link Premier Integration provides the data foundations to Industry 4.0 concepts and Industrial Internet of Things IIoT functionality.

The highest level of safety

Festo features the Encompass product MS6-SV-E soft start and quick exhaust valve which can be used with GuardLogix Integrated Safety applications.  MS6-SV-E reduces pressure quickly and reliably and builds up pressure gradually in industrial pneumatic systems. The pneumatic system safety device is a self-testing, redundant system conforming to the requirements of EN ISO 13849-1. Thanks to the 2-channel design and its monitoring, the device fulfills category 3 and 4 requirements, which enables a performance level “e” to be attained – the highest safety level.

21st Century mechatronic training

Festo Didactic, one of the world’s leading providers of mechatronic training, showcases in the Festo Flexible and Modular Automation exhibit its curriculum supporting Rockwell PLCs. The Festo Didactic product and service portfolio offers customers holistic education solutions for all areas of manufacturing technology and process automation, such as pneumatics, hydraulics, electrical engineering, production technology, mechanical engineering, mechatronics, CNC, HVAC, and telecommunications.

Rockwell Automation Invests $12M to Bring Science and Technology to Next Generation Workforce

Rockwell Automation Invests $12M to Bring Science and Technology to Next Generation Workforce

11-14-16-first-students-and-rockwell-automation-ceoRockwell Automation has long supported FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology —  among other things supplying floor space during Automation Fair so that students can show off robotic projects. Now Rockwell Automation has announced a $12M, four-year commitment to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

Over the past 10 years, Rockwell Automation has provided more than $15M of broad-based support to address the critical need to fill science, technology, education and math (STEM) jobs that drive innovation. Many of these jobs go unfilled because of both the lack of awareness of the kinds of high-tech jobs available, and the lack of skills to qualify for today’s needs.

“Through our technology and people, we are helping to inspire the next generation of innovators to fill the talent pipeline for our customers and for our company,” said Blake Moret, President and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “Our strategic partnership with FIRST helps us increase our reach and visibility to STEM students around the world.”

11-14-16-first-girls-working-on-robot

In addition to being a global sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League program and sole sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award, nearly 200 Rockwell Automation employees around the world donate their time for the FIRST programs, and more than 300 employees volunteer for the organization in other capacities. The company also donates products integral to FIRST program games and scoring. These product donations are specifically used for the FIRST Robotics Competition playing fields and scoring systems, and they are included within the parts kits teams use to build their robots.

“This generous, multiyear commitment from Rockwell Automation will allow us to focus on the strategic aspects of our partnership while continuing to help scale our programs and expose students to a broader range of industry-leading products and applications,” said Donald E. Bossi, President, FIRST. “The company has a long, rich history of supporting FIRST.”

11-14-16-first-and-rockwell-automation-with-check

Rockwell Automation is recognized as a FIRST Strategic Partner, which signifies the highest levels of sponsorship available at FIRST. It is also a FIRST Robotics Competition Crown Supplier.

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $30 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST LEGO League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST LEGO League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.