Rockwell TechEd 2018 San Diego

Come and read what Evan, William, and John have to tell about their time at Rockwell Automations TechEd 2018 in San Diego. If you’re interesting in more about TechEd, check out a synopsis at the end.

Evan Hewitt: Systems Engineer-

Having never attended a Rockwell event, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard good reviews about TechED from co-workers and other people in the industry, so I decided it would be a great choice to attend to help me improve my knowledge with the vast amount of Rockwell software available. My week was very busy with everything from hands- on demonstrations, overview and implementation discussions, real-world Rockwell hardware and software case studies, and labs designed to give users experience with different software applications outside of a production environment. My focus going into TechED was to choose classes that would help improve areas of my career where I don’t have as much experience or knowledge. I focused on Networking/IIoT/Cyber Security, Ethernet/IP, end user system deployment, plant operations improvements, and specific FactoryTalk software packages that I hadn’t used previously with customers.

Some of my favorite classes and labs were:

  • Fundamentals of EtherNet/IP IIoT Network Technology
  • FactoryTalk System Design Overview
  • Architecting a Distributed HMI System
  • Designing Highly Reliable VDC Systems
  • Streamline Rockwell Software Deployment to Users
  • Cyber Security: Where and Why Do I Start?
  • Integrated Motion on EtherNet/IP
  • Introduction to FactoryTalk Craft Brew System

The week was very informative

I feel that is was well worth the time to attend the event. Hearing Rockwell professionals give high-end and detailed explanations of all the different hardware and software products and their uses gave me a much deeper understanding of a lot of the material. Of course, San Diego was amazing as well. Some improvements I think they could make for next year would be to improve the flow of classes available, i.e. tell attendees which classes would be good to stack on top of each other to build a certain skillset, and to denote which classes would be better for certain categories of attendees, i.e. let the attendee know if the class is designed for the end users, system integrators, OEMs, etc. Overall, I was very impressed with the event and the management of all the classes and people.

The hotel that the event was located at was right on the water in one of the marinas, your ticket to the event included breakfast and lunch served for all attendees, as well as snacks and plenty of coffee, EDFest was a blast (minus the long lines for food and drinks, but those are hard to avoid with so many people attending), and I feel much more comfortable with using Rockwell components. Rockwell is also releasing some great new features this year on the hardware and software side, including a new PLC designed for use with motion control devices, and huge upgrades to those not-so-lovely PlantPAx graphics and popups in View Studio. I recommend checking it out if you get the opportunity, but don’t see it as a yearly go-to event like others, as many releases are picked up throughout the year.

William Bohn: Systems Engineer-

The amount of collective knowledge present in the convention center the week of TechED was staggering. From the very informative lab instructors and lecturers at Rockwell and other industry leaders, to the various breeds of attendees (system integrators, OEMs, distributers, end-users, etc.), there was a tangible flow of information between the participants. Being a part of this buzz and engaging with my industry peers in this kind of setting was easily my favorite aspect of the conference.

When registering, I decided to focus my schedule on the hands-on labs, favoring deep dives into a small set of applications, namely FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI and FactoryTalk Historian SE. The labs typically consisted of a short presentation offering an overview of the software package and an outline of the lab activities to follow. Participants were then set loose with one or more VM images hosting the required software and a lesson plan to work through at their own pace.

While I faulted the lab exercises for showing you click by click, how to complete a given task without providing much insight as to why you would want to, there was always at least one expert lab assistant in the room in addition to the instructor to answer the more philosophical questions and work through any issues, which really complimented the self-guided format. For me, the greatest value in the labs was being able to sit down and interact with properly installed, fully licensed and configured software running nontrivial applications. I was very impressed by the depth and detail of the sample applications.

I also attended a number of demonstration and discussion sessions throughout the event. My favorites were:

  • How to Improve Plant Operations through Better HMI Graphics
  • Molex –Communication and Connectivity for the Automated Factory of the Future (IIoT)
  • Machine Learning Fundamentals

Overall, TechED was a great experience and an incredible learning opportunity. Everything was done well; the presentations were polished, the convention center was easy to navigate, and the accommodations were top-notch. I would have liked to have seen a larger “ED Lounge” for charging and working that fostered the natural “Meeting of the Minds” atmosphere. The convention center itself had plenty of places to sit down and pull out a laptop and the phone charging stations outside of most class rooms were a nice touch. I would definitely recommend attending TechEd if you are just plugging into the Rockwell ecosystem, you need a refresher on a particular topic, or you want to take a look at the what’s to come in the industry. I look forward to attending again in the future!

John Gerbac: Systems Engineer-

Being rather new to Rockwell Automation products, my goal in attending TechEd was to gain a better understanding of what Rockwell has to offer in terms of hardware/software. While creating my schedule for the week, I was surprised to see a great number of high-level overview labs and presentations crafted for people who were unfamiliar with Rockwell products, like myself. In addition to these classes, my interests were in network architecture and security; classes of this nature were in an abundance. While these classes were filled with information, so much so that most of them could barely fit in their two-hour time slot, there was quite a bit of information overlap between classes that could have been avoided with a little more polishing on the content side.

All in all, my short trip to TechEd (Southern California native here) this year provided me with a wonderful concept of Rockwell’s ecosystem and wet my whistle into how their modules work and integrate seamlessly with one another. I tend to agree with Evan’s assessment that TechEd is not a yearly go-to event, but I see benefit in going every few years to see what’s new and up and coming.

TechEd Overview:

The week was full of classes, labs, demonstrations, and of course, a few visits to the beach. Being one of the world’s foremost leaders in automation, Rockwell uses a variety of software in many different types of facilities across the globe. Working as System Integrators, Corso deals with Rockwell hardware and software on a daily basis. Whether it is ControlLogix, CompactLogix, or MicroLogix PLCs, RS500 or Studio 5000 Logix Designer, or one of the FactoryTalk software packages, including AssetCentre, Historian, or View Studio SE/ME, Corso has had their hands on it, and have been responsible for the architecture and deployment of the software to end users and facilities.

TechED is a week-long event

Usually held at a larger convention center in a desirable travel city. The days consist of 1 to 2-hour training sessions spread out throughout the day from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. There are also keynote speakers at different parts of the day if you wish to attend those presentations. Attendees build their daily schedules previous to the event based on the times and availability of the classes being showcased each day. Rockwell also hosts EDFest, a mid-week evening event full of great food, music, games, and drinks for attendees for attendees over 21, and boasts it as a fun, as well as a networking, social get together. Given Rockwell’s presence in industrial automation, there are a variety of classes and topics to choose from.

Some of the categories where labs, discussions, and demos were offered included:

  • Applications and Case Studies
  • Information and Analytics
  • Safety and Security
  • Networking
  • Virtualization- UI and HMI
  • Process Control
  • Technology and Services
  • System Deployment
  • New Features and Releases

Given the wide variety of facility control that Rockwell is involved in, there were an overwhelming number of classes to choose from. Each class gave a topical overview, a focus, and intended category of improvement to hone your automation skills in on. See what the Corso Team had to say about the event, and reach out if you want to learn more, or find out how to attend next year!

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