Rockwell Automation Expands Industrial Digitalization Scope

Rockwell Automation Expands Industrial Digitalization Scope
Rockwell Automation Expands Industrial Digitalization Scope

At the 2021 Rockwell Automation Fair, the company discussed the expansion of its scope to provide a full set of products and services for manufacturing business digitalization. Rockwell Automation has put together resources, creating a new business model and positioning them as the primary resource for manufacturers industrial digitalization journey, including the conceptual stage, design, deployment and operations.

Over the years, management has defined the company as a “pure play supplier,” and at the 2021 Rockwell Automation Fair, the scope of this definition has been significantly broadened to include traditional products, lifecycle services and manufacturing business consulting for users to achieve industrial manufacturing digitalization integrating enterprise business computing, operations, automation and industrial control. Blake Moret, CEO Rockwell Automation, emphasized, “Nobody is better positioned to bring Information Technology, IT and Plant floor Technology, OT together.” Rockwell Automation’s broadening of scope is being accomplished with multiple acquisitions outside of the company’s traditional business including:

  • Plex Systems was acquired in 2021for $2.22 billion, expanding Rockwell Automation scope to offer cloud-based SaaS (System as a Service) manufacturing business solution that includes Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Manufacturing Execution System (MES/MOM), Quality Management System (QMS), Analytics and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and Supply Chain Management (SCM). 
  • Fiix Inc. was acquired in 2020, expanding Rockwell Automation's scope into Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. Rockwell Automation believes the addition of Fiix directly aligns with Rockwell Automation’s software strategy and enhances its Lifecycle Services business.
  • AVATA, a Supply Chain Management (SMC) and ERP consulting and integration service, was acquired in 2021 expands Rockwell Automation business consulting services with domain expertise in manufacturing and distribution.  AVATA is a leading strategic partner of Oracle and is recognized for its global capabilities.
  • Kalypso was acquired last year, adding professional services helping clients discover, create, make and sell better products applying digital technologies. The firm provides consulting, digital, technology, business process management and managed services across the innovation value chain.

The Rockwell Automation investment in PTC, resulting in collaborations, started in 2018 with foundational software modules for industrial digitalization in the FactoryTalk offerings, which continue to grow. In addition many Rockwell Automation solution demonstrations at the fair featured PTC ThingWorx IIoT platform and Vuvofia Augmented Reality Platform.

Rockwell Automation has redefined the business model to reflect industry change that is reflected in fiscal year 2021 sales by categories: Intelligent Devices 47%, Software & Control 29%, Lifecycle Services 24%. 

Manufacturing digitalization architects

Blake Moret framed the evolution of Rockwell Automation: “We’ve expanded our traditional solutions capabilities from those that were very biased towards hardware integration to now including the software and information side in a big way through both organic and inorganic moves.” He described how Rockwell Automation particularly with Kalypso, AVATA and Maverick Technologies can be at the beginning of a customer’s digitalization journey as consultants helping them define business problems, conceptualize & design solutions, quantify expected benefits and deploy integrated solutions.

Broader pure play definition

Brian Shepherd, senior vice president, Software & Control, defines Rockwell Automation pure play in manufacturing as, “focused on production–whether that's food & beverage or oil & gas–we help companies with the production systems that run their operations; this is what we live and breathe every day.” Shepherd describes Rockwell Automation’s recognition that software and services are as essential to digital transformation as the data in the manufacturing environment. He explained explaining Rockwell Automation has unique software, hardware and services along with the manufacturing experience to understand how to get production data, visualize, put it into proper context to enable better business performance.

Industry applications focus

Moret emphasized Rockwell Automation continues to expand its focus on vertical industry applications to understand user needs in these manufacturing segments to be a trusted partner. 

Thoughts & observations

Rockwell Automation is responding to industry changes requiring manufacturers to leverage technologies to be competitive.  New levels of automation and digitalization are shifting the playing field with low labor cost no longer a winning strategy. Cloud-based SaaS (System as a Service), edge computing, innovative sensors and Internet of Things technologies are leveling the playing field enabling manufacturers of all sizes to compete.  The good news is with the focus on industrial digitalization users have a much broader field of solutions to pick from including traditional suppliers and many newcomers applying cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) concepts, methods and technologies.

About The Author

Bill Lydon brings more than 10 years of writing and editing expertise to, plus more than 25 years of experience designing and applying technology in the automation and controls industry. Lydon started his career as a designer of computer-based machine tool controls; in other positions, he applied programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and process control technology. Working at a large company, Lydon served a two-year stint as part of a five-person task group, that designed a new generation building automation system including controllers, networking, and supervisory & control software.  He also designed software for chiller and boiler plant optimization.   Bill was product manager for a multimillion-dollar controls and automation product line and later cofounder and president of an industrial control software company.

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