Increased efficiency: Global relevance

Keith Nosbusch, Chairman & CEO, Rockwell Automation


In this IEC Global Visions interview, Keith Nosbusch, Chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, shares how smarter manufacturing increases global competitiveness. He underlines that IEC International Standards help improve plant safety and enhance product reliability and quality. They also allow companies to become more sustainable by lowering their energy consumption and improving waste management, which in turn helps reduce cost.



Keith Nosbusch, Chairman & CEO, Rockwell Automation

Why is it important for manufacturing to be sustainable?

Nosbusch: The most important trend in manufacturing today is the transformation of IT connected manufacturing to the optimised plant and supply network. This trend is motivated by three drivers: global competitiveness, an agile supply chain and sustainability. The environment is a very hot topic for many of our customers. Resources are finite, both in terms of raw materials and fuels, and energy costs are volatile. In addition, companies are facing increased government scrutiny, with regulators and consumers driving additional pressures. We need to invent new ways to produce, using less raw material and energy and reusing waste to reduce landfills.

Manufacturers not only need to enable faster time to market but also reduce their operating costs, minimize the utilization of natural resources, improve the safety of their products and of their workers.

Rockwell Automation has a broad portfolio of products, services and solutions, that enables our customers to reduce their waste, improve their sustainability and demonstrate the environmental friendliness of automation and information solutions.

What does Rockwell understand by "smart, safe and sustainable manufacturing"?

Nosbusch: For Rockwell smart, safe and sustainable manufacturing not only includes energy and environmental concerns but also workplace safety, product integrity and reliability, and the reuse of waste products in the reverse supply chain. Smarter manufacturing contributes directly to better use of energy and other natural resources. An information-enabled factory increases plant safety and enhances product reliability and quality. Sustainable process improvements help manufacturers meet and exceed regulatory requirements and increase their competitiveness in the global market.

Today, manufacturing consumes more than a third of all energy used globally. How can you help manufacturers become more energy efficient?

Nosbusch: In manufacturing, energy was always viewed as a cost of doing business, an expense to be controlled, a large contributor to indirect costs. Today, regulatory and consumer pressure is pushing companies to use energy more responsibly.

We want manufacturers to think of their facilities as being a smart node on the smart grid. This will allow them to start anticipating the need to use demand management in a much more proactive way. Rockwell Automation helps companies to optimise their energy use in order to reduce the impact of fluctuating energy prices and supply on their bottom line. We teach companies to treat energy as a raw material that is a cost of goods sold. That's revolutionary in manufacturing.

With the help of our proprietary "greenprint" methodology, Rockwell provides tools for companies to measure and monitor energy consumption by individual loads, machines and lines. This allows them to effectively manage peak demand, evaluate impact of production changes on energy use and automate production in view of optimal energy consumption across the enterprise.

Emission reduction, recycling, waste management, in short "the environment" is a hot topic. How can Rockwell help manufacturers become more sustainable in this area?

Nosbusch: Rockwell offers a multitude of innovative services in the area of emission reduction, recycling and waste management. We can help manufacturers to minimize the resources used during their manufacturing processes (energy, water or other natural resources) and monitor and measure environmental impact.

We help companies separate and reuse valuable chemical products from waste mixtures through solvent recovery systems. This enables them to generate higher yield products with less scrap. This also helps eliminate waste, reduces costs for disposal fees and decreases the amount of CO2 that normally would be released if the waste stream were incinerated.

How does the IEC help Rockwell in achieving its goals ?

Nosbusch: The IEC helps Rockwell achieve its goals by allowing us to develop standards that are globally recognized. Our vision and goal is to have one standard, one test globally. We look to the IEC as our preferred supplier of those international standards and our preferred partner. It is very important for a multinational automation supplier to be able to work with one standard. This allows us to be much more productive and efficient in all of our processes.

The IEC helps Rockwell achieve its goals because in addition to one standard, one test globally, we're also looking for conformity assessment systems that enable us to provide consistency to our customers around the world, whether they are end users or OEMs. They need to have the assurance that what they are producing will be acceptable wherever it ends up in the world. That‘s a great value the IEC can provide to our mutual customers.

What do you value in standards and your collaboration with the IEC ?

Nosbusch: I've had personal involvement in the standards working group as a convener. It was very evident to me that being part of the standards organization, and driving towards a global standard created more opportunities for us as a company. It enabled multiple suppliers to work together to create larger markets. This in turn generated faster adoption of technology and therefore created larger opportunities for all of us to go after.

We also were able to convene with all of the experts on a subject area, and to take the best practices of multiple companies and embed them in standards. We were able to utilize that knowledge to create very effective standards that were practical but also appropriate for the global market place.

My advice to a company that has not been involved in standards or not been using them effectively is to get engaged. I think your involvement is what makes it a better process. Your voice added to the input from numerous other businesses creates a better standard. It's that collaboration and the alignment of industry, of knowledgeable people and best practices that all of them bring to the table that creates a better global standard. I would recommend that companies look at what they need to do and how it will help them in the long run in their business.

What do you expect from the IEC in the future?

Nosbusch: The world is becoming more connected, and many products and components are being used as part of a system today. We would like to see the IEC being involved in helping to develop the standards, the conformity testing for the system that bring together these individual products and components in one solution. We need to see the testing and the standards align with the way these products are now being integrated in a greater way.