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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
All change at Rockwell
All change at Rockwell
Keywords Interviews, Automation, Business, Rockwell Automation
Interview with Keith Nosbusch, president of Rockwell Automation control systems operating unit
Assembly Automation was granted another exclusive interview with Keith Nosbusch Plate 1) at this year's Automation Fair in Philadelphia, PA. Two years ago, Assembly Automation had the opportunity to interview Mr Nosbusch on the occasion of his promotion to president.
(This interview occured two days before the major announcement by Rockwell that they were exiting two major business segments, avionics and electronic communications, by spinning off those units to stockholders. After this change, Rockwell International, the parent, will be just an automation company.)
Plate 1 Keith Nosbusch
AA: Now that you have been at the helm of Rockwell Automation Control Systems for two years, what do you feel is your most rewarding accomplishment?
Nosbusch: I would like to start with my biggest disappointment, if I may. Our sales have been flat for three years. This lack of growth is a major concern. I am announcing a major restructuring of our business into three units: products, systems, and a new activity, software and services. Software and services is under the direction of Ron Wichter, senior vice-president, who joins Rockwell from Compaq Computer. Our goal is to dramatically grow the US$700 million in turnover we currently enjoy with activities in software and services. Here at Automation Fair, we are introducing our manufacturing information services. Rockwell information management consultants will sit down with major customers and develop information solution strategies to improve their businesses. Our people can then work in partnership with customer people to develop the solutions or take over the entire task. We have created our services specifically for plant and operations managers, industrial IT and information management professionals within customer organizations. We think our focus on management information from an automation point of view will leverage our strengths to the maximum benefit of customers. We can bring a unique prospective to the information needs of major customers.
AA: Well, back to your most rewarding accomplishments.
Nosbusch: I am very pleased with the way in which we have been able to greatly improve asset management and cash flow within the organization. I am also very pleased with the growth in sales of 10 percent in Europe and even more in parts of South America. That demonstrates the success of our efforts to be a major global automation supplier.
AA: What do you see as your goals for the organization over the next several years?
Nosbusch: Clearly we must get the sales growth engine moving. We also need to improve our time to market for new products and services.
AA: There has been a very dramatic change in the competitor line-up. GE has in the works the acquisition of Honeywell, a major competitor in some types of control products and in the process control business. In fact, Honeywell has been a partner with Rockwell in some software and hardware activities. The Rockwell ProcessLogix software is based on Honeywell technology and you have marketed some private branded hardware to Honeywell. How might the GE move affect Rockwell?
Nosbusch: We have a very strong ongoing working relationship with Honeywell Industrial Control as well as a technology agreement which has several more years to run. We don't expect any change in our relationship with Honeywell for the foreseeable future. We are sure that our customers will not be affected in any way. In a related process segment move, we have recently acquired Sequencia's batch processing software and support business. We will continue to support their existing OEM agreements. The nearly 60-person skilled application support team at Sequencia is joining the Rockwell team and will be valuable in our efforts to better serve that process industry. We are retaining the Cincinnati and Phoenix support centers of Sequencia.
AA: Allen-Bradley has always had a very strong commitment to selling through distributors. Do you see distributors as an extra step in marketing automation solutions to the process segment or in selling software and services?
Nosbusch: We continue to have a strong commitment to our distributors. They are very important as our first line of action in our plans to meet customer needs. We have been expending considerable resources for training on upgrading our distributor staffs to meet the needs of the rapidly changing automation market. We know that in some cases Rockwell will be dealing directly with major customers. But we feel that the local service, support and order fulfillment provided by the distributor are key to the dominant market share we enjoy in the USA. We know that some channel changes must occur but we want our distributors to know that they are very important to us and will continue to be for a long time. We are even featuring for the first time, at this Automation Fair, an interactive booth highlighting the benefits our distributors provide to our customers.
AA: When you look to the future, whom do you see still standing as global competitors in the automation controls business?
Nosbusch: I see the major competitors now and in the future as Siemens and ABB. As for GE-Honeywell, only time will tell what will happen there.
AA: What about Japanese players?
Nosbusch: Well Mitsubishi will continue to be the most important supplier from Japan but I see them as dominant in a regional sense.
AA: Thank you and we look forward to chatting with you again at Automation Fair 2001 in Atlanta.