Rockwell Automation TechED Connected

Rockwell Automation TechED Connected

Moret Rockwell 2016I’m in Orlando at the annual summer gathering of Rockwell Automation distributor and customer tech specialists. This is where they go for training in current products and introduction to new ones. And to get a little fired up about the company.

Rockwell Automation currently bills itself as the largest company solely devoted to industrial automation. True to the billing, current Senior Vice President and incoming President and CEO Blake Moret told the 2,100 gathered attendees, “All we do is industrial productivity.”

Moret’s other significant quote revealed a huge cultural shift that Rockwell Automation has undergone under current CEO Keith Nosbusch—We describe the value of the Connected Enterprise to customers in language specific to each. That means that the company has learned to speak other terminology than discrete manufacturing and machine control. Historically it lost credibility by going into batch and continuous processing companies and describing offerings using the terminology of  discrete. Now they can talk pharma, or oil & gas, or whatever.

Chand Rockwell 2016Sujeet Chand, SVP and CTO, gave the technology keynote. Chand talked about connecting silos of information—something we’ve discussed for years but seems closer to reality than ever before.

He did not spend much time on trends (collaborative robots, wearables, mobility), but pointed out that many countries are starting advanced manufacturing initiatives. The danger of so many independent initiatives is that this could lead to multiple standards, which would be a mess. He urged us to work for common standards.

Chand reinforced the value propositions for the Connected Enterprise, Rockwell’s focus for several years:

  • Faster time to market
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Improve asset utilization
  • Enterprise Risk Management

Why do we care about IT/OT convergence—something else we’ve discussed for years. This convergence is a key factor for Connected Enterprise, however, another benefit is it leads to improved workflow.

Since I follow all things IoT, I found Chand’s “IoT Stack” interesting. It’s fairly typical, but he differentiates data abstraction from data accumulation in the mix and does not specifically use the term analytics.

  • Collaboration & processes
  • Data Abstraction
  • Data Accumulation
  • Edge Computing
  • Connectivity
  • Physical devices

Kulaszesicz Rockwell 2016Frank Kulaszewicz, SVP Control and Architecture, delved into High Performance Architecture. Fundamental to high performance architecture are devices that are self-aware. A photoelectric, for example, can send a notification that it needs to be aligned or cleaned. Or a motion control servo drive can be self-tuning. Stepping up from self-aware devices are systems that are “system-aware.”

Dean Kamen, prolific inventor and entrepreneur, was the “star” keynote.



Artist Rendition of Kamen Talk

He began with a bit of discouragement, “As society get older, adoption of technology slows.” But then he showed development of some of his notable inventions that have made the world better for many. There is the insulin pump, portable dialysis machine, prosthetic arms with such great control that people can pick up a grape and eat it without crushing the grape designed for people who have lost their entire arms. Lack of clean drinking water is the #1 killer of children globally. He invented “slingshot” a machine that distills and condenses water such that just about anything wet even from manure piles can be converted to safe drinking water. He partnered with Coca-Cola to get them distributed to areas of great need.

His greatest achievement is the invention of the FIRST Robotics competition. Begun in 1989 to inspire high school kids to develop a passion for science and engineering, the movement has spread to 86 countries.

Perez First Quote

Technology development, especially through the middle ages and even by technologists like Da Vinci, was for development of tools of war for their princely benefactors. Kamen’s vision is to challenge kids (and the rest of us) to develop technology to solve human problems. No Terminators, here.

Using Automation and Operations Management Technology To Reimagine Cities

Using Automation and Operations Management Technology To Reimagine Cities

CityScapeI’ve often written about how automation and operations management professionals should think beyond their boundaries and look for new problems to solve. Invensys (Wonderware) has been working at just that idea. This is what they wanted to talk to me about during my appointment in Hannover, Germany last April. Here’s a release about a new initiative–in this case working with long-time partner Microsoft.

Invensys is working with Microsoft on CityNext, an initiative designed to help governments, businesses and citizens reimagine what is next for their cities.

Problem statement

According to the United Nations, for the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and nearly 70 percent of people will live in cities by 2050. This ongoing migration creates unprecedented opportunities, but also intensifies problems such as aging infrastructure, hazards to public health and safety, pollution, crime and traffic. Through the CityNext initiative, Microsoft and Invensys will help leaders do “new with less.” By combining the power of technology with innovative ideas, CityNext will connect governments, businesses and citizens with city services that increase efficiencies, reduce costs, foster a more sustainable environment and cultivate communities where people thrive.

Invensys, through its Wonderware software product line and partner solutions, provides solutions that help cities provide essential, life-sustaining services like clean drinking water, sanitary wastewater treatment, reliable electricity, safe transportation and other services. Operational information of practically any kind can be securely viewed in real time from anywhere at any time, from a single, integrated and open Wonderware software platform.

“Our participation in Microsoft CityNext demonstrates our commitment to helping cities be smarter, more sustainable and more innovative now and to modernize for the future,” said Rob McGreevy, vice president of platforms and applications for Invensys. “Microsoft’s latest technologies will provide us with greater opportunities to help our municipal customers transform and modernize their city operations using familiar, secure Wonderware technology and devices. Through this program, cities will be able to engage their citizens and businesses using mobile applications and big data analytics, helping to accelerate innovation and opportunities through community development and workforce enablement programs.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Invensys on CityNext. Microsoft prioritizes putting people and partners first in our initiatives and CityNext is no different,” said Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. “Even though cities are feeling the strain from economic challenges, we believe a new era of innovation will create opportunities for people to utilize technology to accomplish what they never thought possible. We’re inspired by our diverse partner ecosystem and know that working together we can help cities realize their full potential.”

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