Anaheim, CA â Rockwell Automation product managers say they are
committed to developing products that help engineers climb the learning curve
faster. And they're putting their money where their mouth is.
Companies that are designing
relatively simple, stand-alone machines in high volumes (hundreds per year) are
benefiting from a Rockwell initiative called "Essential Components," which is
designed to help engineers quickly come up to speed and implement control
functions in their machine designs.
were on hand to discuss the program at the Essential Components Booth (#335)
here at the Automation Fair.
"Rockwell makes a broad set
of components and, frankly, we were looking for a way to make the collection
more valuable to our customers," says David Johnson, vice president and general
manager of Rockwell
Center. "So we researched
it and learned that there is value in bundled components from a single supplier
when the supply chain is more important than leading edge technology."
He explained that with more
complex machines, the emphasis is on performance and integration. With simpler
machines that are sold in high volume, designers are not looking for the latest
technology: They value proven, extremely reliable products that are easy to
buy, install and commission.
help facilitate that value proposition, Rockwell Automation last year created the
Essential Components Program. Akin to a development kit for electronic
components, a key feature of the program is the comprehensive set of
information (available on a DVD or online) that gives engineers a jump start on
their designs with a quick-start guide, pre-written blocks of code for the PLC
and HMI programs, preconfigured drive parameter files, panel layout and wiring
diagrams, CAD files and even a BOM for the project.
A cornerstone of the
Essential Components Program is the MicroLogix
1400 controller, which combines control functions, EtherNet/IP and a
built-in LCD â the three core components of a simple machine. Johnson says the
device provides a reliable, integrated solution for customers. "They really
need to eliminate the risk, and that goes down for them when we've done the
integration," he points out.
Rockwell has shipped thousands
of units of the MicroLogix 1400 since it was introduced a year ago. And though
Johnson says that they do not track conversions, it's likely the Essential
Components Program has helped to spur interest and sales.
Some 35,000 users have
requested the "Connected Components Building Block DVD" since Rockwell began
offering it in May 2008, exceeding even their own expectations, which weren't
"I think that there is a bit
of âThis is great, I don't have to talk to lots of people at this point in the
design process,'" says Johnson. "But engineers also are simply looking for ways
to get up to speed more quickly on their own. And, frankly, it benefits us too
because our customers are more informed when they pick up the phone to talk to
an app engineer."
Components Building Block DVD
is available free for anyone who wants it. Though you will need to register,
you'll also get periodic updates. Or, you can access the materials
here on Rockwell's website.