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By Gregory Hale
With all the talk of the connected, more digital workforce from Rockwell during its Automation Perspectives run up conference to Automation Fair 2017 in Houston, TX, one underlying message is security needs to continue to be a strong part of any manufacturer today and in the future.

“We are just getting started,” said Blake Moret, president and chief executive at Rockwell Automation during his keynote address. “The power of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) allows (users) to connect, the develop advancements to keep people safe in the workplace, to monitor data on a rig miles away. Good things happen when we combine the potential of automation with the imagination of people.”

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In terms of technology advances in the digital age, Frank Kulaszewicz, senior vice president, Architecture & Software Division, Rockwell, talked about leading edge technologies the industry giant is working on and bringing to market moving forward.

“There is the connected car, the connected home, the same thing is occurring in the industry. Machines are connected on the plant floor,” Kulaszewicz said. “That is smart manufacturing, but there are challenges.”

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One of those challenges is working with and improving upon legacy systems.

“There is $20 billion lost in unplanned downtime a year,” he said.

What Rockwell is looking to do is create a real-time production environment a user can optimize and keep it sustainable where is can be easy to use and brings resiliency.

“Over the next decade things will change more than they did over the past few decades,” Kulaszewicz said. “Digital transformation is the key to designing better products and bringing them to market faster.”

That is where project Scio comes in.

The goal of project Scio is to help organizations move from descriptive and diagnostic based analytics to a more predictive and prescriptive analytic environment. If users make that move, it can lead to more advanced analytic tools.

“Advanced analytics is the world of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and is providing game-changing production benefits for manufacturers,” said Andrew Ellis, manager of commercial engineering at Rockwell during Kulaszewicz’s presentation. “The challenge to achieving advanced analytics is being able to process that data, cleanse it, enhance it, then move it into a tool.”

In the more advanced IIoT world, the goal is for platforms to predict future events, and have those events fed back into the control systems in real time, which can cut down on or even prevent downtime.

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