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What happens when you put 2,000+ manufacturing-minded people in the same place at the same time?
During the course of ROKLive 2022, we learned, we laughed, we ate, we sang, we got sunburned, we networked, and so much more. Whether you lived it or missed it, let’s look back at takeaways from the week. There are so many highlights that picking favorites is like picking a favorite child (or favorite pizza topping), but we’re always up for a challenge.
“We’re taking manufacturing to a whole new level.”
Senior Vice President of Software and Control Brian Shepherd really summed up why we exist in that one simple sentence. He went on to describe how data is at the center of all we do and outlined the ways our solutions drive customer business results, optimize production, and make employees feel empowered. In the same keynote, Plex Chief Product Officer Nathan Pieri discussed making manufacturers more agile, productive, and sustainable by connecting operations, a highlight in its own right.
“The health and reliability of your machines affect every single KPI on that plant floor.”
Moderated by Plex’s Bernard Cohen, Wednesday afternoon’s discussion on machine health monitoring was an insightful time for everyone in the room. Mike Hart, Senior Director of Product Management, drove it home in the above quote. He also described how the concept of data isn’t new, but rather gaining access to that data wherever you are and contextualizing/visualizing it is what’s new. As you can imagine, Plex’s Asset Performance Management (APM) solution got a lot of love in this conversation.
“The industrial metaverse is coming.”
Whether he’s telling anecdotes about hiding comic books from his grade-school crush or talking about the digital thread, Jerry Foster is practically the Bruce Springsteen of the manufacturing stage. He never disappoints. In this keynote, our CTO explored why video game technology is merging with Industry 4.0 manufacturing technology and how, in the industrial metaverse, a manufacturer will be able to rewind, revise, and replay yesterday’s operations to make tomorrow’s processes even better. And yes, he namedropped Fortnite.
“People actually want to talk about the supply chain. This has never happened before!”
You can bet that supply chain challenges and solutions were a hot topic at this year’s ROKLive, but one moment of comic relief came when Nathan Pieri exclaimed how refreshing it was to be at dinner parties and have non-manufacturing family and friends interested in the conversation. The last two years have shined a spotlight on the industry, making some us the center of attention at the dinner table for once.
“Build a business case around it – don’t just check the box.”
Plex’s Product Marketing Manager Gerry Abbey and Rockwell’s Sustainability Strategy Leader Allie Schwertner led an insightful conversation important to every manufacturer right now. With 94% of Millennials needing to find purpose in their work, we’ve reached a tipping point where empty corporate promises around sustainability and environmental, social, and governance no longer fool anyone. Big, bold commitments are becoming common as manufacturers combat the skilled worker shortage while discovering the positive business implications of doing the right thing. For more on this, download the ESG Edition of the 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report.
“Offload your mundane, repetitive, non-value add processes.”
The skilled worker shortage isn’t just headlines; it’s reality for all of us in manufacturing. VP of Product Management Tony Kaczmarek talked about how labor challenges will continue through the decade but that tools like MES Automation & Orchestration are helping manufacturers persevere. One real-world example included one manufacturer’s 18-year-old intern who was quickly trained on easy-to-use technology and made a tangible impact. Another example discussed how a customer programmed their sky lights to open and close depending on plant conditions rather than have someone do it manually. The possibilities are endless.
“If it doesn’t happen in Plex, then you’re not doing your job.”
Plex, ROKLive, and even this blog wouldn’t exist without awesome customers and partners standing beside us. Jerry Foster recognized this when he gave out Impact Awards to three exceptional customers and two supportive partners. While the above quote came from a customer during Jerry’s “Geek Out” Peer Exchange on Thursday morning, the most memorable moment happened on the keynote stage when he asked Patti Nowak of Control+M Solutions what control+m does on a keyboard. Her answer? “Finds solutions in Plex.”
“We’re going to Mars using the technology you’re working on right now.”
Everyone knew that former NFL athlete and NASA astronaut Leland Melvin was going to give an entertaining keynote on the last day of ROKLive, but most of us didn’t expect his work and our work to intersect. Leland described how NASA’s goals and our goals are the same in trying to make a safer, more advanced civilization. He talked about using connected sensors for vehicle health monitoring in space, something we do here on the ground. But what resonated the most was Leland’s talk of adversity and how sometimes we all need help from a “person in the yellow hat” just like Curious George did in the cartoons.
“You have to advocate for yourself.”
Without a doubt, this luncheon continues to be one of the most impactful parts of our yearly conference. Plex CMO Robin Saitz hosted women professionals from varying backgrounds in a conversation that covered mentorship, behavioral bias, the pay gap, inaccurate perceptions, and so much more. The biggest actionable tip for female professionals is to say what you want and ask for what you deserve. Thank you to Rockwell Plant Manager Colleen Caswell, L3Harris Technologies Senior Associate of Integration and Test Engineer Casey Mann, Tofurky Business and Technology Systems Manager Amber Zancolli, US Hydration Quality Assurance Leader Emily Tomaine, and Rockwell Chief Information and Security Officer Nicole Darden Ford for their participation!
“Don’t stop belieeeevin’!”
The crowd is roaring. You step on stage, nodding to the six-piece band. You take the microphone in your hand as the opening chord rings out and the drums kick in. You feel the energy of those who stepped on this stage before you – artists like The Killers, Florence + The Machine, and ZZ Top. And then you bring the house down. This is what dozens of ROKLive attendees experienced while the rest of us were wildly entertained by the live band karaoke. It was a night no one will soon forget.
Who are we kidding? Nearly every moment of ROKLive was a highlight. Whether it was the keynotes, the sessions, the food, or the entertainment, it was a conference for the record books. To catch more footage, head over to the Plex LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook channels. See you next year!