Rockwell and Microsoft to ship generative AI for Business 4.0 design


Rockwell Automation and Microsoft are working to leverage generative artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate industrial automation design and development. The pair said they will combine technologies to accelerate Industry 4.0 with “industry-first” generative AI, and also to “empower” workers. First up, as part of their extended Industry 4.0 relationship, Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service is to be added to Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Design Studio

The addition of Azure OpenAI to the FactoryTalk design software will help engineers to generate code using natural language prompts, they said. This will help them to automate routine tasks and improve design efficiency, they added. A statement said: “It will also empower seasoned engineers to accelerate development and mentor newcomers… [and] assist in finding relevant help from vast collections of information to further educate developers.” 

They suggested generative AI in industrial design will help enterprises to solve certain other challenges, including quality management, process improvement, failure analysis, and workforce training via “chat-based collaboration” between workers and Azure chatbots. They said they will explore ways to “advance innovation in the industrial metaverse” by combining their respective IoT capabilities, cloud datasets, and simulations to design and build products  more effectively and more sustainably.

In a supplied quote, Matthew Littlefield, president at LNS Research, commented: “The skilled labor shortage… is the biggest challenge facing industrial organizations… These shortages are increasing the need, value, and complexity of automation projects when the ecosystem of service providers is less equipped to deliver on time, quality, and budget. Generative AI has already proven its ability to… enhance the productivity of workers in a range of… scenarios… [This] partnership is a… step forward in addressing these long-term structural challenges.”

Blake Moret, chairman and chief executive at Rockwell Automation, said: “Rockwell’s decade-long relationship with Microsoft illustrates our ongoing commitment to providing best-of-breed solutions that empower customers and support our shared vision of driving industries forward through innovation and collaboration. Together, we’re not just addressing current market needs; we’re shaping the future of technology in industrial automation.”

Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, said: “The explosive growth and interest in artificial intelligence is driving organizations to partner with Microsoft as a trusted cloud and AI provider. I am pleased to strengthen our… relationship with Rockwell by combining its expertise in industrial automation with Microsoft’s generative AI technology to help industrial professionals expedite the creation of complex control systems, optimize the efficiency of their operations, and spur greater innovation across industrial organizations.”

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