Automation Fair 2018 - Rockwell Automation & PTC Partner for Industrial Digitization Journey

  • December 18, 2018
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Feature
Automation Fair 2018 - Rockwell Automation & PTC Partner for Industrial Digitization Journey
Automation Fair 2018 - Rockwell Automation & PTC Partner for Industrial Digitization Journey

By Bill Lydon, Editor,

The biggest reveal at another buzzing Automation Fair 2018, was Rockwell Automation and PTC’s showcase the software modules they are using as the foundational building blocks of an Industry 4.0 Digitization Solution under the FactoryTalk offerings. Following up Rockwell Automation and PTC’s June strategic partnership, the FactoryTalk offerings included Rockwell Automation software existing offerings plus the addition of FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, powered by PTC software, representing the organizations latest step in their digitalization journey.   

FactoryTalk PTC software addition to Rockwell Automation offerings.


Jim Heppelmann President and Chief Executive Officer of PTC, noted that Rockwell Automation has OT (Operations Technology)  domain & tech expertise in analytics, MES, automation, industrial control, sensors & networking.  In his presentation to analysts and media, the day prior to Automation Fair, Heppelmann described PTC’s contribution in IT (Information Technology) Domain & Tech Expertise in CAD, PLM, Augmented Reality, Connectivity, and IoT.  Se suggested that the partnership adds more software tools for data-gathering and analytical capabilities to Rockwell Automation offerings.

Jim Heppelmann President and Chief Executive Officer of PTC described the partnership.


Industry Wide Significance

The primary vision that drives Industry 4.0, IIoT, and Industrial Digitization Solutions Industry 4.0 is a holistic automation, business information, and manufacturing execution architecture that will improve industry efficiency with the integration of all aspects of production and commerce across company boundaries. The term ‘Industry 4.0’ originated in Germany, but the concepts are in harmony with worldwide initiatives, including smart factories, Industrial Internet of Things, smart manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing.   Examples of Industry 4.0 national adoption initiatives include:

  • Made in China 2025
  • Japan Industrial Value Chain Initiative (IVI)
  • Make in India
  • Indonesia 4.0

Initially focused primarily on discrete manufacturing, this vision is now being developed for process automation, with new standards and initiatives including the NAMUR Industry 4.0 for Process initiative and the The Open Process Automation Forum


Building Blocks

Certainly, PTC and Rockwell Automation have software modules that are building blocks to start the journey to create an integrated offering.  In reviewing the offering and discussing with Rockwell Automation and PTC people, it is clear that this is the beginning of an integrated suite for Industry 4.0 Digitization. Further, additional capabilities are under development for tight integration and other functions including process plant and production line simulation, automatic code generation, MES, and virtual commissioning.

Rockwell Automation Software is expanded with FactoryTalk Innovation Suite incorporating PTC software.  

Many, including this author, believe this is a needed addition to Rockwell Automation offerings, in order to compete with Digitalization/Industry 4.0 integrated software offerings from others including Siemens and more recently Schneider Electric.  In addition, Dassault Systemes provides a strong automation vendor independent offering.  Verdi Ogewell, Editor-in-Chief of VerkstadsForum PLM Magazine and shared an interesting perspective on the matter in this article, The Rockwell Automation Deal: Great for PTC, But Siemens and Dassault Remain Hard Nuts to Crack


A Sales Relationship

As described at the Rockwell Automation Annual Investor Conference, the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, will be sold under a common FactoryTalk brand, in an exclusive relationship.

The FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC will be sold exclusively by PTC and Rockwell Automation.  “Phase two, soon, will include distributors, after they have been properly trained and enabled,”  added PTC’s Vice President Corporate Communications, Jack McAvoy, describing the commercial relationship.  PTC will not be selling the other components of the Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk offering that include DesignSuite, OperationSuite, and MaintenanceSuite.


Rockwell and PTC Financial Deal & Relationship

As noted earlier, these offerings are the result of a strategic partnership which was announced on June 11, 2018. Rockwell Automation committed to a $1 billion equity investment in PTC, and Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO, Blake Moret, joined the PTC’s board of directors effective with the closing of the equity transaction.  PTC September 30, 2018 total revenue was approximately $1.2 billion. Rockwell Automation total revenue was approximately $6.666 billion, divided between Architecture & Software Revenue of $3.098 billion and Control Products & Solutions Revenue $3.568 billion.


Bill’s Thoughts and Reflections

Their relationship with PTC is positioning Rockwell Automation to have offerings that customers can deploy to achieve the higher productivity and profitability promised through Industrial Digitization/Industry 4.0.  

Based on discussions at the Rockwell Automation Fair, I see that Rockwell Automation and PTC are committed to building out the software into an integrated Industrial Digitization solution, in order to fully achieve the goals of Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing. 

There are two schools of thought are creating integrated IT/OT to accomplish more efficient and profitable manufacturing.

  1. One approach to achieve an integrated solution is to totally develop it or closely partner with others to leverage their software investments.
  2. The second approach is leveraging open multivendor architectures enabled by the latest computing technology and standard developments including:

Along with IoT and open source, these favor an open environment to use applications from multiple sources which has become the norm in the majority of the computer industry.

All in all, it will be interesting to watch these offerings develop.


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