Automation Fair event focuses on convergence, sustainability, and technical talent
The 2008 Automation Fair “Manufacturing Perspectives” event focused on three aspects that Rockwell Automation sees impacting the immediate future of global manufacturing: IT/automation convergence, sustainable production, and the need for more engineering and technical talent.
Nashville, TN – With more than 11,000 attendees from 70 countries expected to attend, Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, launched the 2008 Automation Fair “Manufacturing Perspectives” event by focusing on three aspects that Rockwell Automation sees impacting the immediate future of global manufacturing: IT/automation convergence, sustainable production, and the need for more engineering and technical talent. Panel discussions covering these three topics featured Rockwell’s industry partners and customers.
Automation Fair is being held at the Opryland Convention Center in Nashville from Nov 18-20, 2008. Read about other announcements from Automation Fair 2008 .
Sam Pitroda, National Knowledge Commission,
Related to the convergence topic, panelists from Alcoa, PepsiAmericas, Tetra Pak, and General Mills discussed how they have integrated the automation and IT departments within their organizations. Most agreed that the primary factor driving this convergence has been the acceptance of standard IT technologies by manufacturing operations. This has allowed production facilities to keep their unique, plant floor systems in operation while connecting via Ethernet to front office IT, supply chain, and enterprise systems.
On the topic of sustainable production, two key messages emerged from Rockwell clients Coca-Cola, Boeing, and General Mills:
Measuring materials and energy usage per a specified amount of product to determine if use of those resources is increasing or decreasing. “Energy use might increase overall for a number of reasons,” said Jim Schulz, director of controls and information systems at General Mills, “but by measuring use of energy per unit produced helps ensure that we are using less energy to manufacture products.”
Viewing sustainability as an ingredient in your product. Schulz said, “Having a sustainability initiative makes it sound as if it’s optional. When you view it as an ingredient in your product, however, the mindset throughout the company changes.”
On the talent front, Nosbusch said that, over the past few years, Rockwell has shifted its focus from a predominant focus on getting high school and college-age kids interested in science and engineering to focusing on grade school children.
“When we focused on the older kids, we found the pipeline to be really dry,” Nosbusch said, due to the fact that most kids by that age have made up their minds about what they like and want to study. “So now we have two programs aimed at grade school kids. The in-school program is based on support of STEM-based education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). And the after-school program involves alliances with FIRST Robotics and FIRST Lego.”
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
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