Welcome to the Feature Series for Australian Manufacturing, where we shine the focus on one particular company and breakdown what really gives them the competitive advantage, in an otherwise difficult manufacturing sector.
In this feature story we discuss Quality, Innovation and Technology with Rockwell Automation, the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information.
Throughout the world, its flagship Allen-Bradley® and Rockwell Software® product brands are recognised for innovation and excellence.
Manufacturing has changed greatly over the past 100 years; it has gone from a heavily labour intensive workforce to an automated industry, which helps manufacturers to increase productivity. Rockwell Automation has an unrelenting focus on innovation which has underpinned the development and growth of the company.
“Our technology can be applied to many different markets and thousands of applications, which is why as a company we acknowledge that no single supplier can do it all. We have innovative partnerships that allow us to take an insightful approach product design and solutions,“ says Mauro DelleMonache, Rockwell’s Marketing Director.
“By working with our partners, integrators and machine builders we continue to identify new and innovative ways our technology can be used. Through our broad reach we can identify gaps in the market and develop innovative products and solutions to move into that new or emerging market.“
As far as innovation policies and strategies are concerned, the company has a commitment to innovation that enables it to expand the business value for its customers and sustain its competitive differentiation.
“As a company, we are looking at new ways to expand our offerings so our customers can realise tangible benefits to their business. Today, we are the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and we’re proud of our mission to improve the standard of living and quality of life for everyone by making the world more productive and sustainable,” says Matthew Treeby, Commercial Marketing Manager at Rockwell Automation.
“Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and a significant challenge that this entails is that there is a shortage of people to not only support and maintain the technology but also to have an understanding of how to yield full value of advancing technology. To address this we support FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organisation that provides opportunities for young people to develop the technical skills necessary for the future workforce.”
Rockwell Automation also has representatives on all major governing bodies to make sure it contributes and is up to date with the latest strategies and policies that support technology development.
By supporting innovation, the company is able to help its customers save money, increase productivity, improve safety and reduce downtime. Rockwell remains focused on the execution of its growth and performance strategy.
As the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation, Rockwell provides customers with reliable automation solutions that deliver improved quality, production and safety.
Automation began as a way to reduce the cost and streamline processes. It allows companies to be competitive in a global marketplace as opposed to just relying on low cost labour to maintain competitiveness
“The Australian manufacturing sector continues to face challenges to maintain competitiveness on a global scale. By having a global presence we are able to help our customers improve productivity and competitiveness on a global scale as well as specifically in their region. This is particularly important to some of our larger customers and machine builders who may manufacture in one country and then export overseas,” comments DelleMonache.
“Our automation solutions allow customers to look at manufacturing across their entire enterprise and develop standard practices, develop consistency, quality, and visibility and meet market needs in an effective manner.”
Rockwell Automation is one of the best examples of how implementing new systems can improve production processes.
“As the company was growing both in size and also into new geographical regions, we found that there were ‘islands of automation’ where machines were not communicating with ERP systems and factories were separated from each other,” comments Treeby.
In order to address this, the company implemented a new business platform to view and manage all its facilities from a centralised location in real time.
“The Internet of Things provides the technology to establish a highly secure, connected enterprise using standard unmodified Ethernet to connect people, processes, data and things. This drives commonality, consistency and safety, which result in improved productivity. The beneficiary of this is our customers and then our own business in terms of reducing costs,” says Treeby.
“Realising the value of the Connected Enterprise has become a business imperative that delivers transformational value in productivity and global competitiveness.”
Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs over 22,000 people serving customers in more than 80 countries.
“A manufacturing facility creates a lot of information that is often just being applied to a discrete process. With today’s technology you can capture that information and correlate it against other processes. This information can then be used to identify bottlenecks within the facility to improve productivity,” says DelleMonache.
“Enabling technologies including the Internet of Things, data analytics, remote monitoring and mobility help improve connectivity and visibility across enterprise operations and provide the platform to integrate information across business systems and the plant floor. This in turn offers manufacturers’ agility, lower cost of ownership and improved operations,” adds Treeby.
It’s a well-known fact that technology can provide the much needed boost for a company to stay competitive on the market. This is also true for Rockwell Automation.
“Technology is moving at a fast pace and companies need to keep up with the latest advances to remain competitive in the current market. Automating processes and production lines allows you to minimise labour costs, improve quality, and safety, which are significant, factors affecting productivity in Australia. Rockwell Automation is focused on developing and providing technology that helps our customers gain and maintain a competitive advantage,” says Mr DelleMonache.
“Advances in technology have eliminated the need for manual processing of customer orders, delivery tracking, and other information sharing. In our business we have invested in technology to create one business system that streamlines processes and delivers information directly to the most relevant department or business unit as well to our suppliers and customers,” adds Treeby.
Mobility of information is also very important, so the company provides numerous online manuals and other operational information for their customers.
“Another example would be making the selection of products easier as well as on devices in a format most appropriate for viewing. An example of this is the Rockwell Automation Product Catalogue iPad app, which allows customers the convenience to browse or search our product offering. We also offer a powerful range of product selection tools that are available on-line or for download to help customers choose and apply our products while in the office or on the go,” says DelleMonache.
Investment and innovation are also key to staying competitive, so we asked them whether or not they plan any future investments in technology.
“Absolutely, it’s the basis of our business and a necessity not just from a manufacturing perspective but also from a business system and quality viewpoint too. Recent advances such as the Internet of Things has delivered new value and made the vision for a connected enterprise a reality. As a business we will remain on the forefront of where technology continues to evolve not only for our own organisation but also to support our customers as well,” said DelleMonache.