Guest Post: Demystifying Digital Transformation with Rockwell Automation and Microsoft

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The following is a guest post by John Dyck, Global Director, Software Business Development, Rockwell Automation. Dedicated to industrial automation, Rockwell Automation makes its customers more productive and the world more sustainable.

Two decades after automation networks on the plant floor became commonplace, it's still generally true that information accessibility between plant floor devices, and the people and systems that can create new value from them, has proven to be a challenge. There is significant value to be gained on the journey of digital transformation, but it's clear we need a fresh paradigm to enable the real-time flow of information throughout the manufacturing enterprise to truly capitalize on technology innovations like predictive analytics, machine learning, and digital transformation.

Manufacturing operations leaders are motivated and incentivized by keeping production going at all costs, with little room to think about the future sustainability of their actions and systems. These leaders need to solve problems right now to ship products, with minimal spending, and have very little time to consider to standards, system sustainability, security impact, etc. Information technology leaders live in an environment where adherence to standards, process rigor and systems sustainability is paramount. The tendency for OT leaders to move quickly and IT leaders to plan ahead creates a natural tension that digital transformation can eliminate, allowing firms to achieve the productivity gains that can be found on this journey.

This is truly about enabling all OT and IT practitioners to access all the plant floor devices and systems they need and use the tools they're already comfortable with in the same way you might hook up a network printer.

Rockwell Automation has taken a highly innovative approach in this area. We've built a device analytics appliance designed to auto-discover plant floor devices on your automation network (sensors, controllers, drives, overloads, etc.), reach into an extensive library of device objects (digital twin), and create a rich data model for those devices which consists of:

  • The knowledge of all the data that's available to be collected from each device.
  • The ability to immediately begin to collect/store the most useful data from each device.
  • Key events and notification for imminent or actual failure automatically configured for each device.
  • Pre-built dashboards with relevant KPIs and summarized data from each device, in intuitive and easy-to-act-on visualizations.
  • All relevant manuals and documentation.
  • A "BOT" based on Microsoft Cortana, enabling users to interact with plant floor devices and systems using "Natural Language."

By collaborating with Microsoft, Rockwell Automation has leveraged the Azure platform to enable companies to easily align their IT and OT factions. In addition to leading technology resources, we are collaborating with Microsoft's partner team and engaging in joint sales and marketing activities to reach new customers and achieve joint wins.  To see these exciting new capabilities and how we could partner with your organization, we invite you to join us at the Microsoft / Rockwell Automation booth at Hannover Messe!

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