Advanced Analytics Key for a Connected EnterpriseSat, 09/01/2018 - 09:50
Digitalization has opened the doors to enormous banks of information that track the development of manufacturing processes. Companies are learning what to do with this data but the next step for the industry is to gain the capacity to make accurate decisions based on this information, according to Miguel López, Regional Director of Rockwell Automation.
“We strongly believe in software-hardware integration,” he says. Being the world’s leading player in industrial automation and information, Rockwell Automation understands the importance of data and its compilation to develop proper analyses. However, as López puts it, “without someone or something to interpret it, data by itself cannot generate knowledge.” For this reason, the company is investing heavily in advanced analytics technology.
According to the company’s Automation Perspectives for 2017, presented at the Automation Fair in 2017 by Frank Kulaszewicz, Senior Vice President of Architecture and Software, and Andrew Ellis, Manager of Commercial Engineering and Information Software at Rockwell Automation, manufacturers looking to be more competitive and to maximize asset utilization must embrace advanced analytics tools. According to data science, analytics can be classified as descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive. The first two refer to historical data while the latter two are related to forecasts based on previous results and behavior analysis.
“Companies need technology capable of offering predictive, as well as prescriptive analyses that can prevent processes from reaching a stagnation or a deterioration point without relying on the accumulated experience of operators,” says López. All components from sensors and frequency converters to control units are sources of information, he adds, and that is what has allowed Rockwell Automation to build its vision of The Connected Enterprise. “Digitalization is key for the industry’s development and Rockwell Automation is leading by example in its implementation,” López says. “We have three manufacturing sites in Mexico, two in Monterrey and another in Tecate, and by embracing digitalization we have been able to show our clients what new technology we can offer.”
Rockwell Automation’s goal is to be the connecting platform for all of the clients’ equipment. Instead of receiving tons of unsolvable data, through The Connected Enterprise the company can filter information according to what users need to make decisions at the right time. This is not restricted to Rockwell Automation’s technology. According to López, an open network is also crucial for efficient communication between devices. Companies have moved from individual private networks to open standards normally following Ethernet protocols and Rockwell Automation has an alliance with CISCO that allows its equipment to communicate with any device from any brand that follows Ethernet/IP standards.
The Connected Enterprise is a growing project for Rockwell Automation and along with investments in its own technology, the company has favored inorganic growth to innovation through collaboration and investments in third parties. In November 2017, the company announced its investment in the Silicon-Valley-based innovation fund The Hive to support artificial intelligence developments focused on industrial automation. Similarly, in July 2017, Rockwell Automation established a collaboration with Foxconn to develop Smart Manufacturing solutions at Foxconn’s facilities.
Although Rockwell Automation has maintained an open mind toward inorganic growth, it has not put at risk its long-term plans and growth projections. The company received two unsolicited proposals from technology leader Emerson in October and November 2017, and both times Rockwell Automation’s Board rejected the offer. “We believe that continuing to execute Rockwell Automation’s successful strategy, which is generating extraordinary returns for the company’s shareowners, will create greater long-term value,” said Blake Moret, President and CEO of Rockwell Automation, to David Farr, Chairman and CEO of Emerson Electric.
López is optimistic regarding the future of Rockwell Automation. “We are growing and proof of that is the good results we have delivered locally and globally,” he says. “Growing outside the US has become a priority for Rockwell Automation and Mexico is one of the most important markets for the company internationally.”