BAE Systems uses PTC's Vuforia AR technology on a Microsoft HoloLens BAE Systems/Microsoft/PTC

PTC and Rockwell Automation Partner for Smart Factory Growth

The partnership will entail both companies collaborating on technology for IoT, AR, smart analytics and more.

PTC and Rockwell Automation are joining forces to accelerate growth in the smart factory segment. A new partnership between the two companies will combine their respective technologies for IoT, augmented reality (AR), smart analytics and more to provide a solution that the companies say will enable customers to achieve “increased productivity, heightened plant efficiency, reduced operational risk and better system operability.”

According to Jim Heppelmann, PTC’s President and CEO, the partnership came about after PTC began having success selling its ThingWorx IoT, Vuforia AR and Kepware industrial connectivity platforms for factory automation use cases. To accelerate PTC’s strategy in the segment, the company looked to Rockwell Automation—one of its customers—as a natural fit.

“As IT and OT converge, there is a natural alignment between our companies,” says Blake Moret, Rockwell Automation’s Chairman and CEO. “Together, we will offer the most comprehensive and flexible IoT offering in the industrial space.” As part of the partnership, Moret will join PTC’s board of directors and Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC.

Within the partnership’s technical collaboration, PTC’s ThingWorx, Kepware and Vuforia platforms will be packaged together in a suite with Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk MES (manufacturing execution system) and FactoryTalk Analytics products, which Heppelmann says will be branded at some point in the near future. Both companies will license the products from each other and sell the suite to customers.

According to Heppelmann, work has already begun to integrate the products with each other. “The fit is quite nice,” he says, adding that it is hard to tell which product is which in demonstrations because “they’re so nicely integrated together.” Demos of the products working in tandem will take place at PTC’s LiveWorx conference in Boston next week.

Heppelmann says PTC, which already conducts a sizable amount of business in the aerospace and defense industry, sees IoT in the factory as a very big opportunity that they are hoping to capture with the new partnership. “Clearly, the aerospace and defense industry has factories full of big, expensive equipment,” he says. “Working with Rockwell Automation, we now have a lot of technology and a lot of expertise to try to get more value out of that equipment, avoid unplanned downtime and have more productive manufacturing processes.”

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