Rockwell Automation partners with Microsoft on three projects

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FANUC cobot in Rockwell inspection application.

Rockwell works with partners to streamline automated manufacturing. Source: Business Wire

Rockwell Automation yesterday announced that it is working with Microsoft “to enable intelligent factories by simplifying complexity and helping empower customers to achieve sustainability goals and operational excellence.” The companies said their innovations will be on display this week at Hannover Messe.

Late last year, Rockwell added Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service to its FactoryTalk Design Studio to accelerate time to market for its customers. The partners said they “will provide cutting-edge industrial transformation systems across the value chain, rapidly, and at scale with AI-assisted design, connected data, and agile production optimization.”

“Rockwell’s partnership with Microsoft is a shared vision of creating and delivering the best solutions to empower the future of industrial operations,” stated Nicole Denil, global vice president of market access at Rockwell Automation. “We simplify complexity in how manufacturers design, operate, and maintain their enterprises and empower their people.”

Rockwell Automation develops industrial automation and digital transformation systems. The Milwaukee-based company employs approximately 29,000 people in more than 100 countries.

In 2021, it made $7 billion in sales, over $3 billion of which were in intelligent devices. In September 2023, Rockwell acquired mobile robot maker Clearpath Robotics and its OTTO Motors unit.

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Partners to apply AI to design, simulation

Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Design Studio is a cloud-based, software-defined industrial automation design environment. The company said it enables developers to improve their collaboration and productivity with a simplified way to work.

Microsoft and Rockwell said the integration of Azure OpenAI Service into FactoryTalk Design Studio will help engineers generate code using natural language prompts, automate routine tasks, and improve design efficiency. Manufacturers will have access to edge AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and automation systems to allow people, processes, and technology to operate seamlessly between physical and digital twin environments, they asserted. 

Microsoft claimed that Azure’s adaptive cloud approach will enable manufacturers to unify and streamline siloed teams, sites, and systems with FactoryTalk edge and cloud systems while scaling applications and insights. 

“Manufacturers are always looking for ways to drive modernization, optimize efficiency, and reduce costs,” said Dominik Wee, corporate vice president of manufacturing and mobility at Microsoft. “By combining Microsoft’s AI capabilities and trusted cloud platform with Rockwell’s industrial automation solutions, manufacturers will have the tools they need to speed up these objectives and create smart factories of the future.”

The companies are also building on their recently announced partnership with NVIDIA. The trio said it’s working to allow the creation, real-time management, and simulation of digital twins that will be accelerated using Microsoft’s AI-assisted tools and cloud technology. 

In addition, the companies are integrating Rockwell’s Plex manufacturing execution system (MES) with FactoryTalk Data Mosaix and Microsoft’s Cloud for Manufacturing. Manufacturers will benefit from AI tools that help drive productivity, safety, and quality, said the partners. All of these tools focus on resolving quality issues with corrective actions and root-cause analysis. 

See Rockwell Automation at the Robotics Summit

Ryan Gariepy, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Clearpath Robotics, a subsidiary of Rockwell Automation, will be speaking at the Robotics Summit & Expo on May 2 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

His talk, “The Bots Are Here. What’s Next?” will take a look at how companies and organizations can take advantage of the latest robotics trends to shape their futures.

The Robotics Summit & Expo focuses on the design, development, and scaling of commercial robots. WTWH Media, which also produces The Robot Report, said it expects a record 5,000 attendees and more than 200 exhibitors. This year’s event will also include an Automated Warehouse track and pavilion. Register now for the event.

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