Blake Moret, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Automation doomsayers have come out all guns blazing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is their ammo. While many employees in the manufacturing industry have lost their jobs to automation, the technology has proven instrumental in keeping many organizations afloat, especially in the food and beverage industry. As the world battled the biggest calamity of the modern era, the pandemic accelerated the growth of robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the food and beverage sector, helping businesses stay abreast. While Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods came as a surprise to many, the food and beverage industry is closer to tech investments than most believe, and Silicon Valley's impact on the sector is set to grow further. Automation is slowly becoming the secret sauce of profitable food and beverage companies.
Expedited by the pandemic, automation technology has become an essential solution for several challenges in the industry. The technology proactively manages product safety and quality in operations and supply chain, increases operational efficiency, and improves industrial energy efficiency for increased productivity and profitability. At the forefront of this transformation in the food and beverage industry is Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK), a company dedicated to industrial automation and information to make its customers more productive and the world more sustainable.
Rockwell Automation Fair at Home
"It's been a year of challenges like we've never seen before, but it's also been a year of opportunities to increase resilience, agility, and sustainability," addressed Blake Moret, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Rockwell Automation, as he kick-started the company's annual automation fair. The 29th Annual Automation Fair attracted around 40,000 registered attendees, with more than 25,000 of these attendees taking virtual tours of the event.
The Rockwell Automation Fair at Home provided an excellent opportunity for customers to learn, network, and keep informed about new products, technologies, and services. The Rockwell Automation Experience's virtual tours featured the digital engineering experience and the digital thread experience, along with an extensive product and technology showcase.
According to Moret, despite the pandemic and all the changes it has brought along, Rockwell Automation's strategy continues to remain the same—to bring the connected enterprise to life. "We're going to share with you what's next for Rockwell Automation, and we hope what we've learned can help you as you create your own next. Throughout all this change, our strategy has remained the same: bringing The Connected Enterprise to life, and doing it with 117 years' experience in solving customer problems," said Moret. During the pandemic, Rockwell Automation has been engaged in projects with Roche and Johnson & Johnson to help tackle the crisis. When Roche needed to transform three plants to manufacture COVID-19 antibody test kits quickly, Rockwell Automation's engineering experts worked collaboratively with Roche using the Pharma Suite MES software solution.
Maximizing Productivity, Minimizing Risk— Overcoming the Pandemic
With travel restrictions, social distancing, and various safety protocols in effect globally, Rockwell Automation was swift in utilizing its remote support as the first line of support for its customers and partners. The company's team continually monitored the end-to-end extended supply chain to take quick action in response to the changing market dynamics. These actions included building additional inventory, hiring incremental labor, securing additional freight capacity, and a robust expediting process for critical orders. To navigate the challenges induced by the pandemic, Rockwell Automation accelerated its efforts by committing to functions like increasing global capacity to build additional inventory where appropriate, managing product lead times, scaling resources in manufacturing facilities, finding agility in supply bases, adapting logistics to secure additional freight capacity and manage expedites, and increase customer support resources.
In February 2021, the company was named as one of the 2021 World's Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices.
Rockwell Automation has been recognized 13 times and is one of only two honorees in the Diversified Machinery industry. Rockwell Automation also earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality.
Sweet Taste of Victory— King's Hawaiian
It's been a year of challenges like we've never seen before, but it's also been a year of opportunities to increase resilience, agility, and sustainability
Rockwell Automation's prowess can be witnessed in its solution provided to King's Hawaiian to create a common infrastructure for machine builders for the first centralized data-collection system on a greenfield site. King's Hawaiian bread, an American favorite distinctly known for its sweetness, has been on consistent growth since it moved operations to Southern California. By 2010, the company's 150,000 square foot automated baking facility had reached capacity and worked 24/7 to meet the increasing customer demands. To this end, the King's Hawaiian had to build a 125,000 square-foot highly automated facility and be up and running in 10 months. Rockwell Automation's Logix control platform provided scalable controls across all machines in the facility. Also, the company designed and delivered an integrated plant within a tight timeline, a week ahead of schedule. As a result, King's Hawaiian produced an additional 180,000 pounds of bread per day, doubling its production in the process.
This is but one of the many occasions where Rockwell Automation has provided its expert automation services to companies in the food and beverage industry. The company remains dedicated to its promise of expanding human possibility. "We take the imaginations of people and combine it with the potential of technology to help the world work better, and to help the world recover," says Moret.