Digital Transformation and The Connected Enterprise Relationship Highlighted at 2018 Automation Fair

By Craig Resnick



Rockwell Automation hosted its 27th Automation Fair in Philadelphia November 14 and 15, 2018.   This followed its crdtce1.JPGProcess Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting on November 12th and 13th and the Automation Perspectives media/analyst event on November 13th. A common denominator was Rockwell Automation’s continued advancement of “Digital Transformation and The Connected Enterprise”.   Company executives also emphasized the company’s mission of trying to help make the world more productive and sustainable to improve quality of life for all.

Automation Fair featured about 150 Rockwell Automation and partner exhibits, 95 technical sessions, 22 labs, and nine industry-focused forums. Attendance was estimated at over 8,000 customers, up 21 percent over last year, a record for an Automation Fair not held in Chicago. 

Automation Perspectives:  Expanding the Human Possibility and PTC Partnership

Rockwell Automation’s Chairman and CEO, Blake Moret, opened Automation Fair for the global press and analyst community at the Automation Perspectives media/analyst event. Mr. Moret discussed the company’s strategy for Digital Transformation and The Connected Enterprise crdtce2.JPGexpanding the human possibility by combining the imagination of people with the power of machines, which he believes makes anything possible. He also discussed trends and technologies that are bringing The Connected Enterprise to life.

Jim Heppelmann, President and CEO of PTC, then joined Mr. Moret to announce that Rockwell Automation and PTC have jointly launched FactoryTalk InnovationSuite powered by PTC, the first collaborative offering to integrate technologies from both companies following the strategic partnership announcement in June 2018.  They discussed that the driving force for the partnership was to provide the ability to connect and bring intelligence to people, processes, and products.

Mr. Heppelmann then explained how companies are transforming their physical operations with digital technology, the benefits of an integrated information platform, and how combining accelerated IIoT application deployment, advanced analytics, and augmented reality (AR) puts the user in charge of innovation and eliminates individual system barriers.

ConnectedProduction, Cybersecurity, and Veterans

Automation Perspectives continued with Allan Rentcome, Director, Global Solutions Technology for Rockwell Automation, discussing the company’s “ConnectedProduction” solution for digital transformation from the wellhead to transportation to terminals. This solution was designed to help oil & gas industry participants overcome operational challenges.  These include connectivity to multiple or disparate systems, data cleansing, and converting data into meaningful, actionable information. He stressed that with 2019 shaping up to be a volatile year in which oil prices could go in either direction, users must take steps now to ensure that all manufacturing solutions are connected, monitored, managed and controlled, and operations optimized.

Next, Nadav Zafrir, President of Claroty, a key Rockwell Automation cybersecurity partner, discussed hidden risks for manufacturers and how when these involve cybersecurity, “you can’t defend against what you can’t see.”  Mr. Zafrir emphasized that companies must be proactive to get and stay ahead of the curve and “it takes a village” to fight cyber-attacks.  As IT and OT continue to converge, IT and OT groups must work together to help ensure cybersecurity. Manufacturers must understand the current threat landscape, emerging risks, and what steps need to be taken to protect multiple generations of automation and enterprise systems throughout all levels of a manufacturing organization.

Joe Allie, Director of Global Competency at Rockwell Automation moderated the final session. This highlighted the company’s support of the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing, which trains veterans for manufacturing careers.  Nearly 100 veterans graduated from the academy in its first year, with a goal to graduate 1,000 veterans by 2020.

PSUG: Big Impact from Digital-driven Smart Production

More than 870 customers participated in the 32 technical sessions at the Process Solutions User Group (PSUG).  PSUG Digital Transformation and The Connected Enterprise crdtce3.JPGalso featured 10 hands-on labs and 32 customer application case studies. John Genovesi, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Accounts & Software, Rockwell Automation, kicked off PSUG by asking the audience how effectively they manage their processes, time and materials and if they are on the path to digitally transform their operations.

Mr. Genovesi, suggested deploying solutions that gather insights as closely as possible to devices and closest to those who will act on those insights.  He also discussed deploying solutions that capture data, transform that data into analytical and virtual capabilities, and provide predictive insights through machine learning.

Next, Nancy Giordano, a Strategic Futurist and Founder of Play Big, Inc., presented, “The Seven Technologies That Are Changing Everything.”  She believes these are: artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, cybersecurity, and human machine interface. To best leverage these game-changing technologies she emphasized that companies need a strong adversity quotient (AQ), which she defines as the ability to overcome adversity and change.

FactoryTalk InnovationSuite Powered by PTC

As we learned at PSUG, the new FactoryTalk InnovationSuite powered by PTC is a suite of integrated software solutions from Rockwell Automation and PTC, designed to help users optimize industrial operations and enhance productivity through improved data and insights.  The new suite improves connectivity between and visibility into both OT and IT.  This collaborative offering includes Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Analytics and MOM platforms and PTC's ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform, which includes industrial connectivity from Kepware and the Vuforia augmented reality solution. 

Process Case Studies Emphasize Value of Modernization

Presentations at PSUG emphasized the value of modernization and associated solutions.  As we learned, the latest versions of Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx DCS are being deployed to optimize productivity, improve energy management, and maximize safety.  Just a few of these case studies included:

  • DuPont’s upgrade to a Rockwell Automation integrated control system to increase visibility into food ingredient production
  • Bristol-Meyers Squibb deploying a new PlantPAx DCS system to overcome problems of dated hardware and inconsistent plant procedures
  • Fiber Industries bringing a textile facility back to life that had been shut down for 10 years by modernizing controllers, drives, and safety systems
  • PPG implementing an AADvance Safety Instrumented System (SIS) for enhanced risk mitigation
  • Duke Energy’s Hines Energy Complex using the PlantPAx DCS to increase power during peak demand, lower NOx emissions, and recover 220 MW of power lost
  • Tate & Lyle, a provider of food ingredients, migrating to a PlantPAx DCS to be able to make online process changes and increase serviceability
  • City of Tacoma Wastewater Treatment Plant modernizing its infrastructure with new systems for control, historian, visualization, asset management and reporting, and a modern network infrastructure and industrial data centers to lower total cost of ownership.

Automation Fair Product Introductions

As usual, Rockwell Automation introduced many new and important products and solutions over the course of Automation Fair.

Industrial Control Devices to Support CIP Security

Digital Transformation and The Connected Enterprise crdtce4.JPGThe company introduced its first control products that deploy CIP Security to help protect critical industrial communications as part of a defense-in-depth security strategy.  ODVA, a global association of major automation companies, developed CIP Security as an extension to the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), the application-layer protocol for EtherNet/IP.

  CIP Security is an industrial automation protocol that supports transport layer security (TLS), a security standard for the World Wide Web. Users will be able to implement CIP Security through new Rockwell Automation products and firmware updates to existing products such as Allen-Bradley ControlLogix controllers, communication modules, and Kinetix servo drives.

Next-generation Process Safety Systems

Rockwell Automation released its updated process safety logic-solver platforms, the AADvance fault-tolerant systems and Trusted fault-tolerant systems, which utilize common SIS Workstation software.  All systems comply with the IEC 61508 functional safety standard.  The system includes triple modular redundant (TMR) controllers, an expanded range of I/O modules, and specialty modules for turbomachinery control.

Expanded Machine Safety Portfolio

The company announced new additions to its machine safety portfolio, all designed to communicate over EtherNet/IP and tested against machine safety standards to help ease compliance. The newly expanded Allen-Bradley Compact GuardLogix 5380 controller family can now meet SIL 2/PLd to SIL 3/PLe safety requirements, designed for the higher productivity, communications, and security requirements of smart machines.

Also introduced were new safety modules for the FLEX 5000 and Compact 5000 I/O product families that are TÜV-certified for use in safety applications up to SIL CL 3, PLe, Cat. 4. The PowerFlex 755 and 755T AC drives offer a new Integrated Safety Functions Option Module, providing safety functions based on IEC 61800-5-2 standards.  The module monitors speed, direction and position, and integrates safety and standard control systems on a single EtherNet/IP network using one controller.  In addition, the networked safety solution provides zone control in which one zone of the machine is brought to a safe state while other zones continue to operate.

Rockwell Automation and Metso Predictive Maintenance Solution for Mining Industry crdtce5.JPGThe Connected Mine

Rockwell Automation introduced The Connected Mine, a portfolio of technologies designed for mining applications, including process efficiencies, cost control, worker health and safety, and skills gaps. Advanced analytics help mining companies collect and aggregate data to gain greater visibility into their operations.

In addition, Rockwell Automation, in collaboration with Metso, introduced a new IIoT-enabled predictive maintenance solution for the mining industry designed to help maximize uptime and performance with improved visibility, analytics, condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.

Expanded TotalFORCE and PowerFlex 755T Drives Range

Rockwell Automation released expanded power ranges and capabilities of TotalFORCE technology for its Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 755T AC drives, supporting applications from 10 to 6,000 horsepower (7.5 to 4,500 kW).  The expansion also brings common bus-system configurations to a wider range of applications.

Enhancements include more adaptive control capabilities, an adaptive tuning feature to block resonance and vibration; and predictive maintenance features.  The drives monitor operational characteristics to calculate the remaining life of critical components to help prevent unscheduled downtime.

The PowerFlex 755TL 10 to 1,800 Hp (7.5 to 1,400 kW) drives use active front-end technology and an internal harmonic filter to help reduce harmonic distortion. The PowerFlex 755TR 10 to 6,000 Hp (7.5 to 4,500 kW) drives include both regenerative and harmonic mitigation solutions. These drives deliver energy back to the incoming supply to improve energy-efficiency. The PowerFlex 755TM drives systems are used for regeneration and coordination of multiple motors in common bus configurations. Users select from predesigned modules with a range from 250 to 6,000 Hp (160 to 4,500 kW) for motor side inverters and a range of 70 to 4800 kW for regenerative bus supplies.

Rockwell Automation also introduced a new PowerFlex AC Drive option module for integrated safety functions based on IEC 61800-5-2 standards for Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 755 and 755T AC drives.  It includes the ability to monitor speed, direction and position on an EtherNet/IP network. As part of a solution, a single Allen-Bradley GuardLogix controller can manage safety and standard control in one software environment using the Studio 5000 Logix Designer.


The many customer case study presentations and product announcements at the combined PSUG, Automation Perspectives, and Automation Fair event helped demonstrate how Rockwell Automation continues to advance its vision of The Connected Enterprise through digital transformation.  The impact of the $1 billion investment Rockwell Automation made in PTC and the partnership between the two companies also became particularly apparent.

ARC looks forward to seeing case studies at next year’s event to learn how customers leverage this partnership and the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite powered by PTC to achieve specific business benefits within the context of both digital transformation and The Connected Enterprise.

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Keywords: Digital Transformation, Connected Enterprise, PTC, Industrial IoT (IIoT), Advanced Analytics, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), IT/OT Convergence, Cybersecurity, ODVA, ARC Advisory Group.

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