Analysis: Strategy for tackling process industries


The field of companies offering automation solutions for process industries seems to be getting more crowded. Along with the long established household names, there are much newer entries. Rockewell Automation falls somewhere in between as a relative newcomer, but the company has been at it for some years now. Its activity has been picking up lately, and a presentation at its recent Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) shows a carefully thought out plan to develop this major market segment.

In mid-November, Rockwell held its 6th PSUG, and now has attendance in the 500 person neighborhood. To put that number in perspective, it’s about 20% of what the Emerson Global User Exchange draws, which is no small accomplishment. As part of the presentation, Kevin Zaba, business director for process automation, gave a short but in-depth presentation of what the group has done to build the offering into one that is truly comprehensive.

“We’re helping process manufacturing executives more easily meet business and production key performance indicators (KPIs) and validation requirements,” says Zaba. “This is possible because the integrated architecture shares real-time data between production and business systems. Furthermore, engineers and operators realize reduced engineering and integration costs because of a single, plantwide control system. This unification and availability of actionable information, coupled with simplified engineering, is the next phase of plant control.”

Obviously Rockwell has much from its own basket in the way of control hardware, HMI, drives, EAM/CMMS, etc. However, there are areas that have been weak, and their marketing people recognize that reality. So, how are they filling in those gaps? Here are a few examples that Zaba cited in his presentation:

  • Acquisitions of CIE and ProsCon to broaden DCS offerings;

  • Acquisition of ICS Triplex for critical control and safety systems (particularly in oil and gas);

  • Acquisition of GEPA and partnering with Endress+Hauser for plant asset management;

  • Partnering with TiPS and Matrikon for alarm management;

  • Acquisition of Datasweep and partnering with OSI for process information and history;

  • Acquisition of Pavilion for process optimization; and,

  • Partnering with Endress+Hauser for instrumentation.

That’s an impressive list and there’s more coming. Major objectives for 2008 include control valves and process analytical tools. If recent activities are any indication, there’s every reason to believe that Rockwell will make it happen.

Zaba adds, “We’re making significant investments in product and system development, domain expertise and partnerships to stay ahead of the trends and respond to the business needs of hybrid and process customers. Watch for ongoing developments from Rockwell Automation as we focus on process.”

Keep watching indeed.

—Peter Welander, process industries editor, ,
Control Engineering Weekly News

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