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Rockwell Automation brings The Connected Enterprise to life

Author : Paige West - Editor DPA & Connectivity

18 December 2017

Thousands of industrial professionals convened in Houston for the Automation Fair event to learn more about the latest advanced manufacturing technologies shaping the industry, and the automation tools that can help them be more globally competitive and productive.

On Nov. 14, global media and industry analysts attended the half-day media forum, Automation Perspectives. This event was opened by Blake Moret, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rockwell Automation who highlighted the company’s support for the people of Houston as they rebuild and recover from the recent hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey saw approximately 50 inches of rain fall, causing widespread flooding in the Houston metropolitan area and the George R. Brown Convention Centre that was home to this year’s Automation Fair, housed around 9,000 residents during the storm. 

Rockwell Automation played a key role in the recovery of Houston, deploying disaster recovery teams to help get customers back up and running quickly and safely. In particular, in Beaumont, Texas the river overflowed and the drives powering the pumps that supplied the city drinking water were submerged and needed replacing immediately. Rockwell Automation teams replaced the drives and restored the ability to provide drinking water to the city within 24hrs.

“Even though we are an automation company, people remain our most important asset. We believe good things happen when we combine the potential of automation with the imagination of people” – Blake Moret, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rockwell Automation

Unlocking the value of digital manufacturing 

Frank Kulaszewicz, Senior Vice President, Architecture & Software Division, Rockwell Automation started off the round of presentations by exploring how digitisation is unlocking additional promise in the industrial automation evolution. 

“Rockwell Automation believes over the next decade, manufacturing will change drastically. Why? Things are becoming more connected.” - Frank Kulaszewicz, Senior Vice President, Architecture & Software Division, Rockwell Automation

The digital transformation of the entire value chain – from components to systems and from suppliers to customers – is the key to hidden value which can make a significant contribution to the productivity, quality, compliance and profitability of a company. Yet we face some challenges; much of manufacturing today is still legacy systems and many of those aren’t connected. In fact, because of those systems industry experiences about $20billion of downtime each year. Therefore, digital transformation provides an opportunity to design better products and generate long-term operational productivity. 

With that in mind, there’s two stages Frank focused on:

1. Digital design: Digital design helps industry design better products and bring them to market faster

2. Digital operations: This allows those products to be produced in a sustainable and efficient manner

Rockwell Automation’s digital design environment is Studio 5000 which focuses on a digital system approach to design. With the Studio 5000 environment, users can respond more quickly to changing market and business needs, while reducing total costs of ownership, including maintenance and training. This year, Studio 5000 has been enhanced with the introduction of three new capabilities; an automation interface to other tools like EPLAN or other CAD systems, improved connectivity for the emulation environment so users can conduct operator training with other systems and an OPC UA connectivity for all software products.

Once digital design is complete, digital operations allow those products to be produced in an efficient and sustainable way. For products, physical assets or processes, a digital twin can be created to emulate those things, meaning products can be tested before they are built, production changes can be trialled before they happen and design and performance can be optimised during the production process. 

Frank placed emphasis on using digital pilots as a way for customers to start their digital journey and to prioritise the outcomes that have the biggest impact. Companies can work on one asset and look at improving its uptime, performance and maintenance, using its success to then roll the solution out across the rest of the company. 

NEW! Project Scio

As Connectivity and computing power continues to spread throughout industrial enterprises, the availability of data has revolutionised how companies solve issues and adapt to changes. But producers continue to be challenged by the complexity of making data useful at the right place and time. They also lack in-house expertise for data management from the edge devices through the cloud. 

To help make important decisions, Rockwell Automation introduced Project Scio. The platform opens access to ad-hoc analytics and performs advanced analysis by pulling structured and unstructured data from virtually any existing source in the enterprise. The platform can intelligently fuse related data, delivering analytics in intuitive dashboards, called storyboards, which users can share and view. Users also have the ability to perform self serve drill downs to make better decisions, reducing the time to value. 

Key attributes of Project Scio include the following:

Device auto-discovery: Manually mapping software to each plant-floor device can be a time-consuming and error-prone process. Project Scio can auto-discover Rockwell Automation devices and tags, as well as third-party device data, to save time and help reduce risk. Additionally, the auto-discovery process gives users access to more detailed information than is typically available through manual mapping, such as device name, line location and plant location.

Leave isolated analytics behind: Rather than leave data at its source and take database snapshots, Project Scio brings data into a centralised location and can continually refresh that data. Additionally, connections to data sources only need to be established once. This connection allows users to create custom analytics and refresh them at their preferred rate without the support of a data scientist.

Flexible Machine Learning (ML): Use the right ML algorithm for the right use case. Project Scio is configurable to support many industry-leading algorithms, including SparkML, MLLib and Python.

Closed Looped analytics: Using either ML or predefined settings, Project Scio includes capabilities that can monitor operations and automatically trigger control adjustments if processes start to fall outside allowable parameters. This can help users optimise control, improve product quality and consistency, and reduce scrap and waste.

Applications marketplace: Rockwell Automation will introduce an applications marketplace for applications developed in-house and by third parties. The ability to access any data source and create custom analytics for each user’s application is a central feature. However, users can also take advantage of pre-engineered FactoryTalk Analytics applications from Rockwell Automation. These applications allow users to monitor common KPIs, such as OEE and quality, in a standardised way and without any configuration.

Open architecture: Industrial producers cannot be expected to rip and replace all their legacy control and information systems before gaining value from analytics. These scalable and open-architecture capabilities are designed to be extended to a full ecosystem of IIoT data sources. The quick connection to the full range of systems that feed data into a Connected Enterprise includes controllers, MES software and edge devices.

A crisis of workforce availability 

The manufacturing skills shortage is real and widespread. Manufacturers and industrial operators around the world are losing experienced employees to retirement and struggling to find replacements. 

Military veterans often work in technology intensive roles and with on-the-job training these adjacent skills can be transferred to roles in advanced manufacturing. To take advantage of this, Rockwell Automation alongside workforce solutions from ManPower Group developed a new programme that helps create a job-ready solution for these veterans and for advanced manufacturing needs. 

The Academy of Advanced Manufacturing is a 12 week programme that combines classroom learning with hands-on laboratory experience. Veterans are trained in Rockwell Automation’s facility in Mayfield Heights, Ohio for in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing. 

“Military veterans possess a unique combination of technical savvy and core work skills that makes them well-positioned for careers in today's advanced manufacturing environments.” - Blake Moret, CEO, Rockwell Automation

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

Together, both companies will upskill 1,000 veterans per year by 2018, investing in the future workforce and creating a pool of certified talent for in-demand advanced manufacturing roles across the United States.

Take to the show floor

Hosted by Rockwell Automation and its partner network members, the Automation Fair event featured more than 140 exhibits showcasing the latest innovations in automation. It also included nine industry forums, 19 hands-on labs and 93 technical sessions designed to expand attendee knowledge and use of the latest control, power and advanced manufacturing and enterprise information technologies.

At the event, attendees saw a variety of technologies that help support digital transformation and best practices for monitoring and managing operations to increase integration and collaboration across the enterprise. 

The Connected Enterprise pavilion:

Achieving a Connected Enterprise or Industry 4.0 solution involves driving decisions and actions that bring together three key areas; People, Process and Technology. The connection of people and processes via technology is what allows companies to be so successful. 

The Connected Enterprise booth was demonstrating this very point. Interactive demonstrations highlighted the value of connecting, sharing and using data to improve operations and provided visitors with use cases and application capability across multiple industries. Rockwell Automation experts were also on hand to share their experience in meeting customer demands. 

Engineering our future: 

Rockwell Automation is a huge supporter of STEM education, helping to address the growing skills gap and foster diverse thinking. That is why the company supports numerous STEM programmes, including FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which aims to deeply engage students in problem-solving while having fun. As well as being a global sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League programme and sole sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition, Rockwell Automation also announced a $12m, four year commitment to the STEM programme, emphasising its interest in inspiring young people and participating in science and technology.

The Engineering our Future booth allowed visitors to interact with the programmes Rockwell Automation support and talk to the local students who were showcasing their FIRST robots. 

For more information on Automation Perspectives or the Automation Fair event, visit:

https://www.rockwellautomation.com/global/events/automation-fair/overview.page

This article was originally published in DPA Magazine, click here to view in the January issue


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