“Mining companies realize that harnessing data to improve operations and business performance is a new competitive imperative. We are seeing great willingness to adapt and evolve existing infrastructure to achieve the very latest best practices in digital transformation.”
Rockwell Automation has taken a lead in the Industry 4.0 revolution that is transforming all industries. With the recent release of The Connected Mine platform from Rockwell, what is the significance of the mining industry to the company?
JG: Rockwell Automation has been providing hardware and software solutions to mining companies for over 100 years. We do business with nearly all major mining companies in every continent around the world. In addition, mining solutions are a very important part of our revenues. I see a significant opportunity for all of us involved in this industry to improve the efficiency and profitability of companies through Industry 4.0 and IoT solutions. Rockwell Automation’s strategy to help our customers deploy digital solutions is defined as “The Connect Enterprise.” Our analytics and IoT platform called InnovationSuite, ingests and correlates real time data from control systems, sensors and very large drive systems, seamlessly orchestrating it together with other real-time operational information and enterprise software data to deliver new insights never before possible. Combining this world-class capability with Rockwell Automation’s and our customers’ domain expertise helps deliver valuable business outcomes. This includes the generation fast actionable analytics for greater operating efficiencies and higher quality predictive insights to drive asset performance and process improvements. We continue to invest in not only the automation and controls, but also in premise and cloud-based software, analytics and machine learning to help mining companies reach the next level of productivity.
What is Rockwell Automation’s value proposition to the mining industry?
JG: Mining is one of the most exciting industries benefiting from Rockwell Automation’s Industry 4.0 solutions today. Predictive maintenance of expensive assets such as mining trucks for example can save companies millions on annual operating costs. Real-time condition monitoring of the multi-stage manufacturing process can also significantly improve yield, enhancing the bottom line. As customers think about their digital strategy, it is difficult to expect them to throw away their historic investments and installed base. One of our differentiators is that we understand the existing industrial hardware, software and networking infrastructure, and we know how to modernize what is necessary, allowing our customers to leverage previous investments. We also have the ability to close the loop. This means that rather than just extracting data to obtain visual insights, we can offer machine learning algorithms that can determine anomalies and generate predictive insights, whether negative or positive, ahead of time. The loop is closed into the automation and control system to make corrections automatically before negative anomalies or undesirable conditions happen. Having decades of experience providing and supporting industrial solutions gives us the expertise, knowledge and understanding of the operation. Combining this experience with an easy to use, world class platform, InnovationSuite, we have capabilities competitors can’t match.
When considering Rockwell Automation’s suite of new solutions, which are you most excited about?
JG: Rockwell Automation works with a significant number of companies, one being a large mining OEM. We are extremely proud of the solutions we have been able to put together to monitor large mining assets remotely. We have put this technology together in partnership with a software company, PTC, which we invested US$1 billion into in 2018. Rockwell Automation and PTC combined portfolios are called The Innovation Suite, which is a platform containing industrial connectivity, IOT, big data analytics and a machine learning capability in a single platform. We developed the Innovation Suite so that we can assist mining clients in monitoring their assets and processes to maximize business performance. This includes analyzing industrial data in real time and improving operational predictability with machine learning. Additionally, we added a very exciting technology – Vuforia Augmented Reality (AR). This capability gives workers superhuman strength by combining a perfect digital experience with the real world. This capability is transforming the way humans interact with each other, equipment and the enterprise to unlock hidden new levels of productivity.
Are you seeing the mentality towards the adoption of new technologies in the mining industry change?
JG: Yes. Mining companies realize that harnessing data to improve operations and business performance is a new competitive imperative. We are seeing great willingness to adapt and evolve existing infrastructure to achieve the very latest best practices in digital transformation. We are encouraged that companies in the mining industry are clearly understanding the modern challenges they are facing and recognizing the need to modernize their operations, processes and workforce. As a result, they are much more receptive of the digital technologies available within the mining space. Our challenge will be can we move fast enough to stay ahead of changing market dynamics.
What are Rockwell Automation’s key objectives for the coming year?
JG: One of Rockwell Automation’s strategic focus areas for the year ahead is helping industrial organizations really understand the value of harnessing their industrial data for better business performance. A lot of people get tied up in just the technology when looking at the digital journey ahead and not crystalizing the key problems that, when solved, deliver significant cost savings, quality and yield improvements, automation and other high value outcomes. Rockwell Automation is not only focused on technology but rather on improving operational efficiencies across a number of dimensions for our customers and the positive outcomes that can be achieved with the right Industry 4.0 solutions. By combing innovative technology and the industry-based domain expertise acquired over many years, Rockwell Automation helps customers achieve the business results they desire.
BE: Collaboration between Rockwell Automation and the customer is necessary as we have to build out the outcome the customer is seeking in the context of what the technology can solve. There has been an evolution from being a service provider to being a solutions provider to now being an outcome-based one-stop-shop, assisting our customers to achieve their desired outcome. We have always partnered with companies in a very integrated fashion. It is highly unlikely that only one company can solve or has a solution for all of a customer’s technology problems. This is why partnerships with synergies are of utmost importance. Through our PartnerNetwork program, Rockwell Automation has partnered with Claroty on cyber security to add to our capabilities and to be able to have better solutions for a better outcome.
JG: We need to push ourselves to have partners outside of our traditional space. Customers are asking OT companies to become more IT savvy and vice versa. The IT and OT space is coming together to drive new value for customers. While mining customers are trying to address common issues, we can give them the vehicle to view best practice across different industries, which can then be leveraged within the mining industry.