Rockwell Automation, Microsoft partner in transformation
By blending each company’s expertise and services in the industrial and IT markets respectively, teams can collaborate more easily and allow industrial organisations to save on infrastructure costs, speed time-to-value and enhance productivity.
The five-year partnership will see the two organisations work together to deliver innovative edge-to-cloud-based solutions that connects information between development, operations and maintenance teams through a singular, trusted data environment. This will allow development teams to digitally prototype, configure and collaborate without investing in expensive physical equipment. This unified information environment also allows IT and OT teams to not only securely access and share data models across the company but also their ecosystem of partners too.
“Today, one thing we know for sure is that no business is 100% resilient. Those fortified with digital capabilities and assets are more resilient than others, and the cloud is how they will thrive,” commented Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business, Microsoft. “We are pleased to deepen our already strong, decade-long relationship with Rockwell Automation to help businesses simplify industrial transformation, accelerate business outcomes and innovate with agility.”
The companies have co-developed more than 20 use cases across Food & Beverage, Household and Personal Care and Life Sciences industries. The solutions developed from this partnership will augment and enhance its current offerings.
“This partnership provides Rockwell Automation and Microsoft customers with a holistic, simple solution for IIoT development and operations and removes data silos that hinder industrial digital transformation initiatives,” added Blake Moret, Chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation. “By eliminating a core barrier to automation initiatives, industrial organizations establish a digital thread connecting the entire enterprise, which in turn accelerates innovation, maximizes productivity and optimizes operations.”
Organisations can access Rockwell Automation solutions through the with more solutions currently in development. The next phase of co-innovation solutions will be available to joint customers of Rockwell Automation and Microsoft customers during the first quarter of 2021 at .
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.