Industry Outlook: Smart Manufacturing Is Key

mcdermottSustainability is good business practice, and what we see in customers across all industries is that it makes even better business sense, driving long-term competitive advantage. There are two aspects of sustainability emerging as market forces in the manufacturing space, driven by innovative automation solutions. The first is meeting the immediate cost-savings needs our customers require today. The other is looking toward our future, setting a vision for how smart manufacturing will meet the demands of tomorrow and will be a key to economic recovery.

Today, Rockwell is working with its customers to think of sustainability in a very broad sense, something that will help them better serve their customers going forward. To that end, we are helping them understand sustainability in a context of environmental factors and energy savings, reduced waste, efficient use of raw materials, enhanced workplace safety, increased product integrity and reuse of waste products. This broader approach to sustainability protects our customers against risk from regulatory bodies—while also helping protect their brand equity and controlling and reducing costs to their operations.

Tough times are an ideal time to have these types of conversations. Not only are customers looking for ways to gain competitive advantage, but the slowdown in the economy affords the time that it takes to re-think, re-engineer and redesign—be it a machine or the next capital expenditure project—and prepare for when the economy is sure to reaccelerate.

Revving up a growth engine
We understand and we empathize with need to successfully address the market drivers of productivity, globalization innovation and sustainability. Just as our customers do, we at Rockwell live with these issues day in and day out. These market drivers, therefore, form the basis of our strategy and our critical business decisions. With the increased speed at which communications, information, control and power converge, our manufacturing industry space is on the cusp of leaping ahead. Our vision of what this means for our customers is that they can be seamlessly connected: to their supply chain, their enterprise and—most importantly—their customers. This vision can be achieved sooner than many realize through investment in what we're defining as "smart manufacturing."

Smart manufacturing optimizes an entire plant, with real-time information flowing seamlessly across machines, production lines and throughout the enterprise. This ultimately extends connectivity to suppliers, linked customers and colleagues globally—allowing the various parties to collaborate and share knowledge. We know that smart manufacturing is a growth engine for a sustainable economy and powerful means of generating increased demand.

Ensuring a brighter future
Addressing sustainability not only helps our customers navigate our current lackluster economy, it is also a key attribute of our vision for the future. As a valued provider of innovative automation and information solutions, we want to make our customers successful and the world more productive and sustainable.

We're also engaging our employees. When I ask what motivates people here at Rockwell, the top three answers I get are: "We solve our customers' problems." "We have great people and teams." "We have great technologies." Sustainability for our customers and our own company is where these three answers—and our vision—come together.

Our economy will recover. In the meantime, we're not shying away from the challenges of the current industrial environment. Rather, Rockwell Automation is working in highly innovative ways and harnessing revolutionary technologies and strategies to help ensure a much brighter future for everyone. MT

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