The Connected Enterprise – A game changer

Rockwell Automation, the world's largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, has been organizing the Automation Fair for more than two decades. Capital Business magazine attended the Automation Fair 2014, which was held in Anaheim, California and brings you the highlights of this successful event.


The Connected Enterprise was surely the topic of discussion across attendees from all walks of life. At the Automation Perspectives conference, Keith Nosbusch, Chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation explained the reasons behind this fair: “Our passion for technology and innovation is led by a profound focus on listening to our customers. This is what leads us to host the automation fair every year. We are here to share our vision, expertise and the most contemporary products, services and solutions for industrial automation.”


The automation fair is focused on solving real world problems and adding tangible values to automation issues. Elaborating furthermore, Keith gave more details about The Connected Enterprise: “The most important value drivers to our customers are: faster time to market, lower total cost of ownership, improved asset utilization and enterprise risk management. Everything we do is focused on helping our customers realize tangible benefits in one or more of these four value drivers. Thus, we have created a vision called The Connected Enterprise, which is focused on rapid value creation through the tighter integration between the industrial asset and the rest of the enterprise value chain. That tighter integration requires secure networks, ease of data collection and management as well as contextualizing the data to turn it into information that can be shared from the plant floor across the enterprise and from suppliers to customers.”


He continued: “The result is an enterprise that can be optimized to drive quantified business value. In the journey to realizing this vision, the important step is the convergence of IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operations Technology). Both IT and OT are critical for the success of an industrial enterprise, but true convergence between these two remains a challenge.”


With their esteemed partners, namely CISCO, Rockwell Automation made tremendous progress in bringing a robust IP-based network infrastructure to industrial automation with a broad range of hardly developed hardware and software products, solutions and services.


“With technology, people and processes, the Connected Enterprise has become a business imperative. We believe the Connected Enterprise is transformational by making the convergence of IT and OT to take place in a more cost-effective and scalable way, leading to ever-greater productivity and global competitiveness. It is enhanced by modern trends such as the internet of things (IoT). As a result, industrial operations will change more radically in the next ten years,” he added.


Rockwell Automation and its partners are applying their industrial expertise to help customers realize the Connected Enterprise through innovation of processes and business models that have resulted in tangible businesses value.


Rockwell Automation delivers the Connected Enterprise through three core platforms. The inaugurated architecture has the market leading multidiscipline control and information products and software. It is highly scalable and capable of differentiating high performance machines for OEM customers as well as delivering advanced plant-wide optimization to end-users worldwide.


Moreover, with the expansion of energy markets, Rockwell Automation is deploying smart assets to highly distributed remote locations and optimizing these assets to deliver the performance of an individual well and at the oil field level. The digital oil field is a concept that is getting more attraction as a result. The objective of the digital oil field is to speed up and streamline all production decision-making processes, explained Keith.


To deliver the Connected Enterprise, Rockwell Automation has partnered with both IT and OT leaders. “We are collaborating with these market leaders to solve real world customer problems which we couldn’t solve at our own,” noted Keith.


During the same session, experts from Rockwell Automation and different organizations discussed the benefits of enterprise-wide implementations; the way of improving competitiveness with information as well as methods of improving business models and business performance for OEMs.


A closer look at Rockwell Automation and its activities

In the second part of this article, we share with you the interviews conducted with senior executives of Rockwell Automation during the Automation Fair. 


Interview with Keith Nosbusch, Chairman and CEO and Hedwig Maes, President, EMEA Region

Being the world's largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, how do you help industrial enterprises improve their operations?

The most fundamental way is that we improve productivity and provide sustainability to our customers. We are able to make them more globally competitive in the long run. This allows them to be successful enterprises, proving productivity and proving global competitiveness and helping them even become or remain a prosperous company that can invest in their businesses and continue to grow.


In which emerging markets are you operating?

We identify the Middle East as an emerging market where we are growing our business. This includes many vertical industries other than oil and gas. Some of the food industries are growing there and in Turkey as well, which is an important growth area for us. Turkey has a lot of machine builders and OEMs as well as large growing food and consuming products industries. Moreover, Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly South Africa is an emerging market where there is a great deal of emphasis on mining. The other significant emerging market for us is Asia, with China, India, and South-East Asia being the three most important areas there. Also, Mexico and Brazil, the largest economies in Latin America, are the most important countries that we have operations in, in this part of the world.


What about your activities in the GCC?

The GCC is an important region for us. We have expanded our operations and invested in Abu Dhabi, the center of the economic power. Also, we have currently expanded our activities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for many reasons including the fact this country has the largest domestic market in the region. The local market is more open to consuming and investments, which is diversifying the economy from oil and gas. All the governments in the GCC have plans to diversify the economy and started investing in different sectors like food, pharmaceutical and automotive. This why we are trying to expand our presence in those markets.


We recently acquired Vmonitor, a global technology leader for wireless solutions in the oil and gas industry that has a very strong presence in the GCC. vMonitor delivers innovative monitoring and control solutions for wellhead and upstream applications that combine cutting-edge wireless instrumentation and communication with visualization software.


How is the Connected Enterprise linked to safety and security?

Safety is the core of Connected Enterprise. It is also the core of our logic control platform, multidiscipline control. Safety is one of our differentiator. It is integrated in the control platform and we are the world’s largest safety company.

The safest facility is the most productive. The most productive workforce is a healthy workforce.


Moreover, security is also important. Today, it is one of the main topics of discussions particularly around the Connected Enterprise.

In addition, sustainability, is one the benefits that automation brings. The more efficient production processes are able to become, the more sustainable they are by definition. Thus, higher quality, less variability, less waste, lower energy consumption are things that drive sustainability and are core drivers of what we provide to our customers.


Which industry is best suitable for Connected Enterprise?

The Connected Enterprise has a very broad appeal. We have smart assets in field and plant-wide. Thus, if we take the smart assets in the field, the oil and gas and mining industries would be two great examples where the Connected Enterprise can be valuable. It is valuable because they have distributed and critical assets. If you move to plant-wide optimization, then we can consider an automotive plant or a food plant that has a number of processing lines, and you need to understand what line is performing better.

The Connected Enterprise is across many vertical industries. What is more important is not the industry as much as it is the ability to demonstrate economic value and business value to the customer.


Interview with Joe Kann, Vice President, Global Business Development

How is Vmonitor improving your operations in the Middle East?

Vmonitor is a much-differentiated offering. It is very significant, especially with the importance of the energy market in the Middle East and the oil and gas exploration and production. It gives us capabilities we did not have before and the ability to monitor the well locally and help optimize production at the well as well as across the reservoir. Thus, we have major customers in the Middle East already and we expect that to increase in the years ahead.


What are the particular challenges that you face in this part of the world?

We are relatively new to the market there. We find it a complicated place to do business in some ways, as there are many complexities. Knowing how to sell our products and build partnerships is a bit different from the way we do it in other parts of the world. However, the technically knowledgeable workforce; companies using the best technologies, and the willingness to really try new things exist in this region. Therefore, we are eager to expand our position there and are making investments like the Vmonitor, which will help us drive our presence there.


How do you assess the global automation business?

We think the market is healthy. When looking at the current economic cycle, we think that we have well passed the downturn that happened in 2008. We are in the middle part of the economic cycle right now.  Thus, in the near future, we feel that we have 3 to 5 years of good growth assuming there is not some economies calamity that we can anticipate.


In general, we feel that the long-term trends for automation are very favorable. Those signify that the automation should grow at a significant multiple of overall GDP, because people want to be more productive and safer as well as able to protect the environment; and all that make the automation market attractive.

We believe that the automation market is a very attractive market for the perceivable future.


Which industries are applying automation the most?

The heavy industries have always been progressive and aggressive in using automation. This is related to the size of these markets, the value of commodity in terms of oil and gas, as well as some of the challenging locations and places where the equipment need to be operated. Moreover, the most automated manufacturing process is the automotive industry. Historically, this is due to the large volume of products and high mix of products. In addition, modern automation and information technologies allow a very flexible manufacturing.


One of the consumer goods companies that require automation the most is companies that produces baby diapers which are the most mundane products in our world. The process of producing these diapers is extremely highly automated because producers want to drive cost and maintain very high quality in these products.


Which region has been the strongest this year for Rockwell Automation products?

The North American market has been surprisingly strong, particularly the US. We think the US at least for the last decade has been growing on a level of 2 – 3% per year. This year, our reported numbers were around 6% growth. This is primarily related to the energy markets in the US with the new explorations and production as well as the new downstream use.


The Middle East continues to grow well. The challenges in some part of this region related to the political stability have cost some unevenness. However, most of the core economies in this region have been very healthy and we expect that to continue.

We have seen slowdowns in markets like China and India after years of very high growth. These markets are still growing but at a slower rate. Brazil has gone through a similar kind of change. After years of very strong growth, it started to slowdown. However, Mexico has been very healthy. 


How do you plan to grow your business further especially in the emerging markets?

Historically, we have been the strongest in discrete manufacturing. 20 years ago, we started to expand dramatically in terms of food and beverage, and consumer’s package goods industries. Thus, our technologies became applicable in those segments. In the last ten years, we expanded significantly into the heavy industries such as oil and gas and mining, which have been our biggest opportunities. We need to continue to expand in those areas; there are competitors in those areas that have been there for a long time. We believe we have an offering that is now competitive with them, and we see a lot of upside by gaining share into the heavy industries. That is also important for our globalization strategy since many emerging economies will be investing in heavy industries. Thus, being stronger in the heavy industries allows us to drive the globalization strategy.


Interview with John Nesi, Vice President, Market Development

Why is the Internet of Things (IoT) fundamental for businesses today?

We look at the IoT as a technology dynamic that will affect a number of different information adoption points within our customer’s base. Thus, when you think of IoT, you think about smart devices and the ecosystem that they communicate. That ecosystem includes mobile devices, cloud based data and analytics, traditional control and information substances. We tend to play a little bit on all of that. We look at the IoT as something that enhances our movement towards connecting information systems and operations systems together. Thus, when talking about Connected Enterprise, we use a control and information strategy to attain the Connected Enterprise for the customer. The IoT is highly evolving the community of devices and information technologies. As that turns up, it will roll up into the Connected Enterprise as customers want to adopt it. Ten years from now, we will see many more connected devices producing a lot of data that need to be filtered and contextualized within a factory environment to make good use out of it.


What is Rockwell Automation doing in terms of security and cyber security?

We collaborated with CISCO, and are now sharing certain technologies with this company. When we think of security, we have to think of defense in-depth. Thus, it is essential to have multiple layers of security. There is a control system in the network that is attached to it and the information system that is attached to that. Thus, Rockwell Automation interacts with three primary areas. We consult with the customer to fit into his security policy because each one will be different. When looking at the security policy, there is a network policy, which gets down to sharing security technology with CISCO. We collaborate with CISCO on switches, routers and wireless access points that share a common technology for security there. Then, there is the control system. Within this system, we have other security measures that we put into our controllers. We look at security with a control system on a plant; it is just as vulnerable to inside penetration as it is for outside penetration. Thus, cyber security might come in from the network, but internal security breaches can happen on a thumb drive, or from some OEM getting remote access that he has permission to but may not know what he is doing.


Therefore, we have to protect against all of that. We put measures inside our control systems that supplement and add to the CISCO technology at the network player.


How can organizations adopt IoT and reduce the chances of putting themselves at risk?

Organizations are less at risk if they use more open type systems. If they keep close systems, they lose the ability to patch them. However, they are always at risk. The more they connect things, the more exposed to risk they become.


Interview with Peter A. Morell, Global OEM Segment Business Manager, Heavy Industry Equipment, Rockwell Automation


How do you assess the rise of IT in the manufacturing sector?

For years, manufacturing has built networks overtime and this includes a lot of data and information. A few years ago, we collaborated with CISCO, since we noticed that the data that is on the plant force is variable for the enterprise side. Thus, we started to see convergence, where the two networks need to be joined together and information needs to be passed back and forth because there are things like maintenance information, production data, and machines performance are crucial for the IT side of business people to make conscious decisions.


In the beginning, there was convergence and it has grown into what we call the Connected Enterprise. Now that these two enterprises are connected together. It is not about the IT in the plant or at the corporate level. It is about connecting the data and the activities in the manufacturing plants with the concerned people. Our job at Rockwell Automation is about helping the manufacturing plants and customers be more successful in the market.


What is the impact of Smart Manufacturing on OEMs?

Traditionally, years ago, an OEM would build a piece of machinery and it was somewhat an island of automation. Now, in line with making that machine smart and connecting with upstream and downstream equipment, we can coordinate activities and help increase productivity. However, my focus with OEMs is related to the heavy industry. In the heavy industry, a piece of OEM equipment can last for 20 – 25 years in the field. The machines don’t work the same as they did when they were first installed. Thus, having a smart machine can alert OEMs when vibrations are exceeding, or about the temperature and similar activities. It also allows OEMs to revert to the end users and inform them that a certain machine needs maintenance or take the precautions in order to avoid stopping the production at later stages. Thus, being predictive and able to schedule orders at a plant make the smart manufacturing a significant platform.


Why is the Connected Enterprise crucial for OEMs?

In today’s world, everything is about information. Being able to have an OEM build a smart machine and connect it to a plant helps the end-user to become more productive. Having smart machines that can tell the operator how efficient they, how well they are running and predict maintenance issues is critical to making that machine important to our manufacturers environment, because downtime is critical.


How is Rockwell Automation helping OEMs enhance their productivity?

We take OEMs from being islands of automation and help them build smart machines. We technically show them how all of our products work together. Moreover, we work with them on the business advantages and help them become more competitive and different from their competitors. In addition, we help them build another revenue stream rather than just selling machines.


How do you plan to grow this industry in the near future?

We keep working with different customers from different industries. One of our responsibilities at Rockwell Automation is to convert OEMs and have them understand why our offers and solutions can help them perform better in the marketplace. Thus, we identify those through our teams around the world that are looking for new opportunities.


We have an ecosystem formed of end-users, EPCs and OEMs. Thus, the way we connect the entire enterprise and make the ecosystem work is key to our business growth.




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