IIoT, Interviews, Smart Manufacturing

Industry of Things World USA Interview: Bob Murphy, Rockwell Automation


Bob Murphy
Senior Vice President Operations & Engineering Services, Rockwell Automation


Bob Murphy
Senior Vice President Operations & Engineering Services, Rockwell Automation

Industry of Things World USA had a chat with Bob Murphy – Senior Vice President Operations & Engineering Services at Rockwell Automation – who is shaping the future of the Industrial Internet prior to his talk this March!

About Bob Murphy:
Bob Murphy is Senior Vice President, Operations & Engineering Services (OES) at Rockwell Automation. Murphy is responsible for overseeing the company’s Global Supply Chain, Quality & Continuous Improvement, Engineering Services and Manufacturing Operations. Bob has been with Rockwell Automation for nearly 39 years, starting his career with what was then the Allen-Bradley Company in 1979 as a production technician. His career progressed through a variety of multiple disciplines, businesses and locations across the company with roles in test engineering, manufacturing & systems engineering, product industrialization & development, and operations management.
Bob was responsible for launching the company’s MES function in 2006 as an enabling force when he was tasked with optimizing the company’s global manufacturing footprint. That led to an internal “Connected Enterprise” journey which has since become representative of what Rockwell Automation promotes externally to its customers. Bob often meets with leaders within the manufacturing industry to exchange lessons learned throughout the transformational journey to smart manufacturing and to share real world experiences around what all embracing its tenets can afford in the way of step function improvements in quality, service and productivity.

About his case study:
At the Industry of Things World USA 2018 Bob Murphy will be holding a keynote presentation with the title “The connected enterprise – Make smart manufacturing work for you.”

we.CONECT: Welcome Bob Murphy, I guess we should start by asking what is the Industrial Internet and why do people believe that it’s going to change the way we do business?

Bob Murphy: Simply put, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is when Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are applied within manufacturing environments. As consumer off the shelf technologies have become more pervasive, the same technologies are now being applied in applications especially for manufacturing.

we.CONECT: The principals behind IIoT (certainly connectivity and data analytics) have been in existence for a while now, why is it then that it has taken so long for it to become established and really bring measurable benefits back to industrial enterprise?

Bob Murphy: The list of reasons impeding more rapid adoption of IIoT technologies is long, so I’ll just note a few that I observe most often:

  1. Knowledgeable and passionate supporters who embrace these benefits simply don’t grow on most companies’ trees and those who exist are most often not in a position to drive change without first socializing the concepts and benefits across multiple functional layers of management (that alone can deter many a zealot)
  2. Developing a robust business case can be a real challenge and dedicated funding can be hard to come by
  3. Finding the right person and an standing up an aligned, cross-functional team to actually lead the transformation often exposes the challenges most every company has breaking down organizational silos (think IT versus OT process owners, or engineering versus operations management for example)
  4. Companies inherently know a more connected and transparent operational climate is a good thing. But I’m convinced many wonder about the increased accountability that will be awaiting them when they have ready access to real-time (and really accurate), contextualized information about how their operations are actually performing. (organizational humility must be embraced during these transformations)
we.CONECT: When you look at IIoT transformation projects, what’s the most common easily avoided mistake you see within the industry?

Bob Murphy: First off, too many projects aren’t beginning with the ‘end-in-mind’ – meaning the desirable outcomes. It’s clear that the IIoT affords us powerful enablers, but I see companies so enamoured with the many new and impressive technologies, that they become the target of their pursuit and affection, not the improved outcomes their business is striving to achieve. This approach often leads to an architecture that is overly complicated, difficult to sustain and, worse yet, can fail to deliver on the intended outcomes. This relates to the second area of common opportunity which is needing to find a more effective balance of the people, process and technology aspects of these transformations.

In particular, they tangibly affect people from a change management perspective and that puts stress on the current culture of any organization. Often, cultural transformations are required every bit as much as technological ones and they are not to be taken lightly. Management guru, Peter Drucker, suggests that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and I’ve come to believe it dines on technology for lunch.

we.CONECT: When you think of the best examples of IoT implementation projects, what is it that they do differently?

Bob Murphy: Besides keeping the eye on the intended prize from an outcome perspective and not trivializing the change management equation these projects have on the people within an organization, I think a common ingredient of well managed projects pertains to their scale of implementation. I am not a fan of the big bang approach to transforming a company’s smart manufacturing footprint. I much prefer thoughtful, scaled implementation plans which help manage corporate risk while encouraging work force adoption based on incrementally proven and delivered results. We want functions within the company pulling on these projects’ to expand, not pushing back against them because their eyes were bigger than their stomach.

we.CONECT: How can your product give companies the edge in terms of smooth implementation and fast payback for their IoT projects?

Bob Murphy: Rockwell Automation strives to promote an active partnership in the planning associated with such projects. First, we seek to intimately understand our customers’ best opportunities for productivity within their specific industry and application requirements. Then, we work to combine our technology and domain expertise to conceive a solution that will deliver the positive business outcomes sought after by our customers. Finally, we passionately focus on trying to simplify that entire process such that the journey to quick results becomes an efficient one. We help consult our customers through a detailed business evaluation, recognizing that no two companies are alike, nor should their transformation journeys be.

Business drivers and costs vary by industry and those must be thoroughly understood during this evaluation stage. We then conduct a technology evaluation, wherein we assess equipment requirements, network infrastructure & security foundations, data acquisition and analytics operating software requirements, and finally the viability of their underlying IT architecture. No well-conceived preparation would be complete without also evaluating the organizational capacity to successfully encounter, embrace and sustain the many changes that will impact people who will begin doing work differently.

we.CONECT: You have decided to get actively involved in our Industry of Things World USA congress in San Diego next March, what do you hope to achieve by participating in this program?

Bob Murphy: I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to share some insights surrounding the Rockwell Automation transformation toward smart manufacturing – how we now think and act across our own global manufacturing footprint – it’s what we call our own “Connected Enterprise” journey. It has been an incredibly positive experience for our customers and our company, and we have learned much from the things that went according to plan and those that did anything but that. I want our lessons learned to be an encouragement to those who are either on their own journey already or are just now thinking about getting out of the starting gate. At the same time, there will be so many other IIoT leveraging practitioners who will likewise be sharing their insights and I’m anxious to learn from them about improving the trajectory of our never-ending journey to smarter manufacturing.

we.CONECT: Can you tell us a bit more about what topics you will be coving in your session in San Diego?

Bob Murphy: I will also be sharing what’s next for the Rockwell Automation journey to The Connected Enterprise – specifically some ideas we have for developing a much more eloquently connected supply chain. Up to now, we have mainly focused our energies on the value smart manufacturing, enabled by the IIoT, has driven within the four walls of our manufacturing plants. Over this past year, we have been exploring how we can take those same operating tenets across our entire supply chain and we’re pretty excited about new value we think this will bring to our company and the experiences we’ll be able to share with our customers as to how they could enjoy similar benefits themselves.

we.CONECT: Well, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today Bob and we look forward to meeting you in person at Industry of Things USA in San Diego.