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Navigating industrial challenges with the power of collaboration and innovation

The past few years have presented significant challenges for manufacturing companies, with global supply chains disrupted by the pandemic and geopolitical tensions. The evolving relationship between the United States and China adds further complexity to the supply chain landscape.

This global supply chain disorder has put OEMs under immense pressure, pushing them to a transformative phase. Machine builders find themselves relying heavily on technology partners to provide the tools necessary to meet end-user demands promptly. During the OEM Leader to Leader Summit at Automation Fair 2023 in Boston, two valuable tools for enhancing the design process were discussed.

“The major challenge to the supply chain has been disruption,” explained Paolo Butti, vice president of global industry, OEM, and emerging industries at Rockwell Automation. “We need to continue building resilience and strength. The supply chain has forced you to accelerate machine redesign. There’s a strong demand for new machines and retrofits, but not everyone progresses at the same pace. Service demands from end users are also evolving, accelerating the path of innovation.”

Butti emphasized the need to drive faster innovation, adopt new technology standards, meet performance demands, address workforce challenges, and enhance competency. This involves reskilling and upskilling current employees, onboarding new staff quickly, and addressing cybersecurity needs.

“We want to drive innovation with rapid adoption and continuous deployment,” Butti said. “The concept phase is where you design your machine, considering technology fit, application purpose, performance, and value prediction.”

Transitioning to a service-based focus

Another significant challenge for OEMs is shifting from a machine-based to a service-based focus. Historically, customers viewed OEM offerings as commodities, primarily evaluating equipment based on purchase price. However, evolving digital technologies and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have changed this perspective. Companies increasingly rely on OEMs to support digitalization objectives and maximize investment effectiveness.

“The service component is crucial,” Butti stressed. “There is a continuous demand for optimization, enhanced capabilities, new compliance standards, and value adaptation.”

The collaboration between machine builders, technology partners, and end-users, referred to as the “magic triangle,” is essential for capturing experience and improving machines throughout their lifecycle. Modern design and data-ready equipment are critical steps in this process, and Rockwell Automation focuses on enabling both.

Collaborative design

“Active design has become much more collaborative,” said Dan DeYoung, vice president of product management, software, and control at Rockwell Automation. “It involves a variety of people working together from anywhere, using a web browser to build, test, and commission hardware virtually, ensuring first-time-right quality.”

DeYoung highlighted that remote updates and troubleshooting save time and money. Rockwell Automation has made four FactoryTalk Twin Studio design tools—Arena, Studio 5000 Logix Designer, FactoryTalk Logix Echo, and Emulate 3D—available in a cloud environment, accessible from a web browser. These tools enable scalable designs across teams in multiple locations, accelerating the design process and ensuring accurate tracking of changes.

Visualizing data flows

In addition to design upgrades, FactoryTalk Hub generates the next wave of data-ready equipment, empowering workforces with an open and interoperable architecture. FactoryTalk Hub is a centralized online platform for accessing cloud-based tools, managing software-as-a-service subscriptions, and facilitating team collaboration.

FactoryTalk Optix edge management and FactoryTalk DataMosaix data platform optimize data flow and associated costs based on customers’ IT choices. FactoryTalk Optix is part of the core solutions in FactoryTalk Design Hub, enabling industrial organizations to transform their automation design capabilities with enhanced collaboration, lifecycle management, and cloud-based software access, adhering to the latest security standards.

FactoryTalk DataMosaix provides controlled access to relevant and contextualized data, offering flexible and scalable tools to accelerate data usability by domain experts and analysts. It supports multi-site, enterprise-wide access, enhancing data usability and scalability.

“These solutions enable new business models through service offerings, leveraging architecture and structured data,” DeYoung added. “FactoryTalk Optix, acquired through ASEM, brings data visualization into our portfolio. It can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud, dynamically synchronized and scalable.”

Meanwhile, FactoryTalk DataMosaix, originating from the oil and gas industry, offers inherent machine-learning capabilities and excellent scalability. Its visualization tools analyze disparate data, making it suitable for various industries and scalable across hundreds of machines in a manufacturing site.

By leveraging modern design, data-ready equipment, and collaborative efforts between OEMs, technology partners, and end-users, Rockwell Automation aims to navigate the complexities of modern industrial operations and drive innovation.

CTS The industrialisation of IT
CTS - Industrialisation of IT
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