ALLEN-BRADLEY FOCUSES ON ROLE IN ROCKWELL

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MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OHIO — This NPE, instead of just checking out ``the new Allen-Bradley machine controller,'' booth visitors will learn how Allen-Bradley Co. Inc. fits into the $4.5 billion Rockwell Automation group.

``Our whole focus at the show is Rockwell Automation,'' said James Coburn, director of application programs and market and business development for the company's Automation Group.

Allen-Bradley is at booth N5824 at the Chicago show.

Rockwell Automation, as an entity, is well-known to large Fortune 100 manufacturers, such as Ford Motor Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. Now, starting with NPE 1997, the firm is trying to market Rockwell Automation to vertical markets, such as plastics.

Coburn said the booth's message is simple: ``The sum of the companies is greater than the individual components.''

The four components of Rockwell Automation are:

Allen-Bradley industrial controls.

Reliance Electric motors and industrial drives. Rockwell International Corp. bought Cleveland-based Reliance Electric Co. in 1994.

Dodge power transmission equipment.

Rockwell Software, architecture that links manufacturing systems together.

Expect to hear a lot about ``architecture'' and ``connectivity'' at NPE.

For Allen-Bradley, that means how controllers on the machine are tied to plantwide software for management, often based on Microsoft Windows — and in turn, how the processor shares that supervisory data electronically with customers.

``We believe there is an intrinsic value in being part of the Rockwell Automation group of products,'' Coburn said.

An example, shown at Allen-Bradley's booth: a live link, via the Internet, showing Rockwell Automation's own injection molding operation in Milwaukee that uses Rockwell Software's RSView production monitoring systems for supervisors.

Coburn thinks the debate over whose controller is faster will give way to which company can seamlessly blend control systems together — connectivity.

``Now and for the next 10 years, the differentiater is no longer in the speed of the closed-loop control, the differentiater is in providing better business systems to the processor, the whole architecture,'' he said in an interview before NPE at the Allen-Bradley facility in Mayfield Heights, a suburb of Cleveland.

Rockwell Automation already has convinced the Fords and Procter & Gambles — plus many of the large plastics companies that supply them.

``I believe the value we can bring to the marketplace is essentially transferring this architecture to the $20 [million] to $200 million plastics companies,'' Coburn said.

Of course, since NPE is about technology, the company will introduce ``the new Allen-Bradley'' controllers, including:

The ProSet 200 injection molding control system, a less-expensive version of the ProSet 700 that Allen-Bradley introduced at NPE '94. The 200 is targeted at machinery manufacturers and rebuilders and smaller custom molders. The controller can learn the hydraulic response characteristics of an injection press. ProSet 200 is based on Allen-Bradley's SLC 5/40 programmable control platform.

ProSet 700 now has an option for coinjection molding, with new 6500 COINJ software. Two new Allen-Bradley modules — 1771-QI and 1771-QDC — control the coinjection process. The software can be retrofitted to an existing 700.

The 1746-BTM barrel temperature module for extruders and injection molding machines.