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Getting Connected: Rockwell Automation’s Manufacturing Vision

Getting Connected: Rockwell Automation’s Manufacturing Vision

Rockwell Automation is in the midst of a global deployment of its smart manufacturing systems. The company shared insight into the two first examples of what it calls the Connected Enterprise, in Ohio and Mexico.

A New Architecture in Mexico

In 2007, Rockwell Automation began building two greenfield plants in Monterrey, Mexico totaling 637,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The operations produce nearly 3,000 unique products. By 2008, solutions were selected for Monterrey that would become company­wide standards. 

These included some of Rockwell’s own integrated control and information software and hardware:

  • FactoryTalk ProductionCentre, the company’s MES, provides work­order tracking and management, ERP order confirmation and backup assistance in case of system failure, real­time production quality management, workflow management that includes regulatory compliance and production performance management.
  • FactoryTalk VantagePoint delivers real­time metrics for process improvement through MES data collection and integration, real­time response based on key performance indicators and dashboard results display for effective benchmarking.

Allen Heid, a project manager at Rockwell, says:

A single ERP system connected to FactoryTalk ProductionCentre has given us unprecedented information on processes and capabilities, to optimize them and improve quality, delivery, capital expense reductions and cycle times.

The MES system’s data collection, management and communication significantly improved quality by handling information at each step of the manufacturing process, including the surface mount equipment used for placing electronic components on printed circuit boards.

Bob Rossoll, project manager of operations and engineering services, says:

On a given day, there will be 300 work orders released, generating more than 55,000 transactions in the FactoryTalk ProductionCentre.

In the past, reporting relied on each station along the line generating its own documentation, so this quantity of data wasn’t efficiently handled. Now, the MES software collects and sorts millions of data points in a more systematic way. If a particular printed circuit board assembly consistently fails a quality check, plant engineers can more quickly identify the source of the problem and use MES data to drive improvements in the process. 

Deploying the Standards in the U.S.


This architecture was applied to the 257,000­ square­foot manufacturing plant in Twinsburg, Ohio, which manufactures approximately 2,500 distinct automation products. This facility required upgrades, including the addition of EtherNet/IP networking and new network management tools. 

The company reports that the new MES system, in particular, eliminates manual data gathering at each production line and provides operators with more comprehensive and accurate data on output, cycle times, manufacturing processes and expectations.

For Bob Rossoll:

Project improvements are no longer centered on data collection, but are now focused actions derived from readily available information, resulting in reduced project time and increased productivity.

According to the company, 4% to 5% annual improvement in productivity were observed. Seven more plants have been upgraded since these projects were completed, and the company envisions similar upgrades to four plants during 2016.