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OEMs to Power with MICRO 800 [Dec 2011]

At Connect 11, Rockwell Automation showcased the power of collaboration, strength of its network of upstream and downstream partners which brings the value to automation customers through a well managed relationship. The event was designed to help customers to explore ways to make their organisations more competitive with solutions around smart, safe & sustainable manufacturing. On the sidelines of this landmark event, the company has launched a product –  The Micro800™ family of Programmable Logic Controllers.   Co G. Nguyen (VP & GM, Asia Pacific Business Center) and Durlov Jyati Sarma (Product Manager, Small Controllers, Asia Pacific) highlight the features of this new launch
Can you brief us about the new launch and how is it going to be helpful for the Indian SMEs?Co G. Nguyen: Today, stand-alone machine OEMs are striving to offer more innovative and better performing machines to meet the market’s increasing demands. Six years ago, we moved global business units to Singapore to support the growth in the stand-alone machine OEM market.
The stand-alone machine builders consider factors such as cost, ease of use and just enough functionality. They are smaller and more agile operations that value time to market. This new product line, The Micro800™ family of Programmable Logic Controllers, is targeted for this set of OEMs.  This product line provides just enough functionality using the plug-ins concept to allow OEMs to configure the controller to his needs.  In this launch the software called the Connected Component Workbench™ or CCW has the ability to configure our Power Flex 4 drives and our component HMI.  And best of all, CCW is FREE and downloadable from our website at www.ab.com. 
In India, we believe that there are many OEMs of this type. With the growth in India’s infrastructure and the export market, we believe it is the right place for us to focus.
India being a competitive market and price conscious market, what is your strategy going to be to make this solution more suitable for the Indian market?Durlov JyatiSarma:  Rockwell Automation as a company believes not only in making a good product but also in offering it as a total solution. First of all, our intention behind moving away from North America or shifting the businesses to Singapore is to learn about the nature of the market and develop price competitive solutions.  Additionally, we have a large offering of products for the OEMs including value added services.  Being able to offer a complete solution in and basket of products is one of RA’s competitive advantages.  An example of this is the offering that can be found in the Connected Component Program.
DO you focus the OEMs sector wise?Co G. Nguyen: Our focus is to develop a product that is off the shelf. We don’t develop a product specific to a sector. So whether its pharmaceuticals or textile, the same product can be used, just applied differently.  The Micro800TM is easy to use but we also provides necessary tool for the OEMs to get started.
Could you tell us about your distribution strategy?Co G. Nguyen: One of RA’s competitive advantages is our network of distributors and system integrators.  We work very closely with our distributor in the limited distribution model and will be continuing with the same model for this product, a global product. We value or distributors and believe that we can add value to them in application and domain knowledge. 
Can you brief us about the objectives behind developing Micro 800?Durlov Jyati Sarma: The OEM market is huge. There are complex OEMs and simple OEMs. Both are equally important to us and are growing quickly. We have products in our portfolio that serves the complex OEMs well and were slightly behind in our offerings to the simple OEMs.  We evaluated our portfolio and introduced the Micro800TM family of PLCs.
Has this product already been launched or is India the first market?Co G. Nguyen:  It’s a global launch and India is a part of it.
Have you done some kind of test marketing at some place?Durlov Jyati Sarma: We normally do not conduct test launches; we select customers as Beta sites to receive feedbacks.
How do you look at the competitive scenario for this type of solutions? Is there any competition currently prevailing for such product?Co G. Nguyen: When we thought of developing this product, we evaluated our competitors and conducted voice of the customer studies.  We believe that we are launching a cost effective product that has just enough functionality and is easy to use.  Our concept of the plug-ins allows the OEMs to configure the controller to their need.  They don’t have to buy the functionality unless they need it.  The simple to use software configures the controller and other RA devices.  In this launch the software called the CCW has the ability to configure our Power Flex 4 drives and our component HMI. And, it’s FREE.  We believe that these features are very competitive.
Are there any technical partnerships involved in this product?Co G. Nguyen: The Micro800TM was developed and is being manufactured by Rockwell Automation in the Asia Pacific Business Center located in Singapore.  We have and will continue to engage our Encompass Partners to develop plug-in for us where they have more technical expertise and market experience.
When you look at the OEM sector segment wise, in which segment are you optimistic about the acceptance of this product?Durlov Jyati Sarma: One of the OEM we see is the packaging industry where the trend is machines getting smaller and less expensive. That’s where we can first fit it in with the new design.
Co G. Nguyen: On the other hand, we hope because of our competitive nature, we would be able to attract OEMs who make their own proprietary controllers. For example, there are numerous simple OEMs who make special green boards. We hope that these OEMs will realize the effectiveness of using an off-the-shelf controller.  It is one way to shift their risk on to a PLC manufacturer.
What are the challenges you find for this product in India to launch this solution?Co G. Nguyen: The challenge is learning about the different applications that exist. Having said this, as we learn we will be able to support different needs and requirements via development of new plug-ins.

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