Rockwell Automation and PTC announced a partnership last June that involved Rockwell investing $1 billion in PTC’s technology. The first rollout of the fruits of that agreement were announced at Rockwell’s Automation Fair last month, when Rockwell and PTC launched FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC. The combined software suite is designed to enable companies to optimize their industrial operations and enhance productivity by providing improved data and insights. The new suite is the first to integrate technologies from both companies. The goal is to deliver complete visibility of operations and system status from one source of information inside the organization.
|The Rockwell/PTC combined FactoryTalk InnovationSuite brings together the physical and digital world within industrial settings. (Image source: Rockwell Automation and PTC)|
FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, was created to improve connectivity to operational technology (OT) devices on the plant floor, natively supporting the rapid, scalable, and secure connection of the most commonly used industrial equipment. The idea is that, with combined data from OT and information technology (IT) applications, users will be able to gain a complete digital representation of their industrial equipment, lines, and facilities from anywhere in the enterprise.
Rockwell: Face of the Joint Suite
While InnovationSuite includes technology from both companies, the user contracts just with Rockwell. “The customer cuts one PO. It’s as fully integrated as any of our products,” Paula Puess, global market development manager at Rockwell Automation, told Design News. “It’s a subscription model. We also offer a customer success manager that’s included in the subscription. That’s new for Rockwell.”
The customer success manager function is designed to ensure that the user receives what the user wants from the investment. “The customer success manager is in addition to technical support,” said Puess. “This is a person dedicated to helping customers achieve their goal. It can include integration services and complete onboarding. This is designed to answer the customer’s question: 'How do I get what I expect to receive?'”
The Technology Inside InnovationSuite
The technology bundle included in InnovationSuite consists of Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Analytics and MOM platforms. On the PTC side, the suite includes the ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform, which includes industrial connectivity from Kepware and the Vuforia augmented reality (AR) tools.
The applications in the suite are designed to be intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that offer users a view of the operations by combining data from multiple IT and OT sources. Rockwell explained that an “operations manager, for instance, will be able to view the overall performance of a facility, or multiple facilities, before researching the performance of specific equipment or factors impacting OEE.”
The suite also offers automated advanced analytics of IT and OT sources designed to make raw data actionable to improve performance and reduce downtime. The suite uses artificial intelligence technology to simplify complex analytical processes, so users can respond to issues ahead of any critical failures. The AR delivers ways of looking at digital information within the physical world. Maintenance workers will be able to access real-time performance and service history so technicians can better diagnose and fix equipment correctly the first time.
Technology Designed for the Industrial Environment
With the rollout of InnovationSuite, Rockwell is focusing on its existing customer base. Most of these customers do not already use PTC technology. “There is only a 4 percent overlap between Rockwell and PTC customers. This suite is going to a Rockwell customer that is different from those buying our control system,” said Puess. “It’s a different audience. With the InnovationSuite, we’re focused on operations, since this is an extension of our intelligence system.”
InnovationSuite is designed to give the user a view into the entire operation. “Our goal is to offer an extended capability from the MES to control,” said Puess. “Rockwell has an enormous smart sensors business. We have drive analytics. We want to take that and make it easier for users to see a digital representation of it all. That’s what PTC offers.”
As for the industries targeted for the suite, Rockwell is looking at a wide range of industrial settings. “As a whole, our market is manufacturing,” said Puess. “That includes pharmaceutical, chemical, metals, automotive—the typical stuff Rockwell does. We don’t typically say we’re in the manufacturing industry. We see it as the larger industrial environment.”
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.
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