Rockwell Automation held its annual Automation Fair in Houston, Texas, on November 15 and 16, preceded by the Automation Perspectives press event on November 14. Peter Middleton attended and interviewed Thomas Donato, Rachael Conrad and Scott Lapcewich, who highlight the company’s exciting IIoT and ‘Connected Enterprise’ innovations.

With over 150 exhibits of the world’s most advanced automation solutions and more than 110 forums, hands-on labs and technical sessions delivered by experts from all over the world, the Rockwell Automation fair concentrates automation innovations and specialists to the nth degree. It is remarkable that this level of expertise resides in one company and its chosen development partners.

Rockwell Automation Fair 2017Connected Enterprise solutions for the oil and gas industry on show at the Rockwell Automation Fair 2017 in Houston, Texas.

The solutions presented, however, are at very high levels of sophistication, so it is easy for a cynic to come to the conclusion that they therefore must also be too expensive and complex, and not rugged enough for deployment on harsh mines, process plants and manufacturing sites in Africa. This notion was dispelled on day one of my trip, however, during two successive executive interviews.

In the first of these, Rachael Conrad, regional vice president for Sales in North America was talking about Rockwell Automation’s ‘pilot to project’ approach to implementing Connected Enterprise solutions. She cited a success story involving Metso mobile crushers operating in southern Africa.

“Many organisations are already making The Connected Enterprise a reality. But where do they begin? Most start small, using pilots or trials to determine proof of concept, and show return on investment, later scaling up to full adoption,” Conrad explains. She asserts that Rockwell Automation does not leave customers on their own during this process. “Our implementation support services include all of the technical, application, remote monitoring and networking support necessary to integrate and update customer facilities.”

Following consultation with Metso in Finland, Rockwell Automation was able to deliver a global industrial Connected Enterprise/Internet of Things platform that connects, monitors, and performs analytics for Metso's equipment and services, resulting in improved efficiency and profitability for its mining and aggregates customers.

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