By Gregory Hale
A connected manufacturing enterprise will garner great benefits for end users, there is no doubt, but in that rush to greater connectivity, one of the underlying forces is it all has to stay secure.
“We are in a traditionally conservative industry, but we are seeing the need to be agile and more rapid,” said Blake Moret, chief executive and chairman of Rockwell Automation during his Tuesday keynote address at Automation Perspectives the day before Automation Fair opened up in Philadelphia, PA. “We embrace the need for speed. Using IT technology will help speed the pace of work.”
All we do is make industrial companies more productive; help companies bring products to market quicker and help manage risk, Moret said.
“When we do this, we can expand the possibilities and make enterprises more connected,” he said.
“In food and beverage, we help make food taste the same every time. In pharmaceuticals we make sure the dosage is right every time,” Moret said. “We also help ensure the world has abundant energy. There is unprecedented data to unlock additional levels of productivity.”
The drive for increased connectivity comes mainly from:
• Growth of the middle class
• Aging workforce
• IT-OT convergence
• Lower cost of computing and connectivity
• Industrial upcycle remains strong
• Equipment over 20 years old
“At the end of the day, it always comes back to people,” Moret said. “We want to know what we are doing is important. When we combine the strengths of (technology and people), anything is possible. When we do this well, we can expand human possibility. We can make enterprises more connected.”
That is where Moret talked about Rockwell’s partnership with Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality provider, PTC.
PTC and Rockwell
In June, Rockwell and PTC inked a $1 billion strategic partnership to accelerate growth and enable the companies to be the partner of choice for customers around the world who want to transform their physical operations with digital technology.
“One year ago PTC and Rockwell were completely separate,” said Jim Heppelmann, president and chief executive at PTC. “PTC has IT domain and technology expertise and Rockwell has OT domain and technology expertise. There are amazing opportunities to apply these technologies. We have an IT company headed toward OT and an OT company headed toward IT.”
In 2018 enterprises will spend $1 trillion on digital transformation and over $300 billion will go toward the dicrete and process manufacturing, Heppelmann said.
In a simplistic approach, he said there will be three vectors that will transform the industry:
The goal now is to improve the capabilities of designing products – computers that are more powerful – artificial intelligence (AI) can help fix design problems, he said.
On the products side, Heppelmann used tractors as a case in point.
Thirty years ago, tractors were very simple. But then computers and software became embedded, and the vehicle became smarter. Then the goal was to have all the farm equipment able communicate with other pieces of farm equipment where the tractor can tell the other equipment it just plowed a field and now the other equipment can tell how much fertilizer to prepare and get ready to lay down.
Then, he said, maybe the farm equipment can talk to all the other farm devices out there like the irrigation system or something like preparing to feed any of the animals. When that all occurs, the farmer has a totally connected farm management system.
When you get total connectivity of the enterprise, the user can get:
On the process side, Heppelmann said there are no shortages of technologies.
“There is a lot of information in systems, but it is in a siloed environment,” he said. “In the IIoT model, everything connects from sensors through the enterprise. This allows for an increase in analytics to make the process more efficient. Role-based experiences can create a flexible environment.”
This allows for a unified view across the enterprise with multiple vendors. We can make plants run much more efficiently.
From the people perspective, Heppelmann said by 2025, two million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled, according to research be Deloitte.
One of the answers to the lack of workers issue, Heppelmann said, was augmented reality, where workers getting ready to retire can share their institutional knowledge where technology locks in there expertise. That would result in an augmented reality environment where workers can see the archived data in real time which allows for greater productivity and a safer work environment.