Rockwell takes $1bn stake in PTC to deliver on “promise of industrial IoT”
Rockwell Automation is to take a $1 billion stake in Needham-based industrial software maker PTC as part of a part of a strategic partnership to drive growth for both firms, and enable customers to make good on the “promise of industrial IoT.” Rockwell Automation chairman and chief executive Blake Moret will join PTC’s board of directors.
PTC and Rockwell Automation have agreed to align their smart factory technologies. PTC’s platforms for IoT, industrial connectivity and augmented reality (AR) – ThingWorx, Kepware, and Vuforia, respectively – will be integrated with Rockwell Automation’s own FactoryTalk suite of manufacturing execution system (MES), analytics and industrial automation platforms.
The partnership also covers technical and go-to-market collaboration, the pair said. PTC’s shares jumped by over five per cent on the announcement, giving the company a market valuation of more than $10.5 billion. Jim Heppelmann, president and chief executive at PTC, said the combination will enable industrial enterprises to “capitalise on the promise of the Industrial IoT.”
He commented: “This alliance will provide the industry with the broadest integrated suite of best-in-class technology, backed by PTC, the leader in IoT and augmented reality, and Rockwell Automation, the leader in industrial automation and information. Our combined customer base will benefit from two world-class organisations that understand their business and deliver comprehensive, innovative, and integrated solutions.”
Moret said: “As IT and OT converge, there is a natural alignment between our companies. Together, we will offer the most comprehensive and flexible IoT offering in the industrial space. Our equity investment in PTC reflects our confidence in the partnership and the significant upside we expect it to create for both companies as we work together to profitably grow subscription revenue.”
PTC and Rockwell Automation are closely involved with the so-called ‘Shapers’ group, an ad-hoc band of industrial automation specialists, also comprising the likes of ABB, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, Cisco, and General Electric, pushing for an open, standards-based industrial IoT solution for deterministic and real-time communication between industrial controllers and the cloud.
Until now, industrial enterprises seeking to automate their operations have typically found themselves locked into proprietary systems through conflicting connectivity standards. Vendors have been required to develop multiple versions of the same product to support these non-standardised industrial automation systems. This has limited technological innovation and industrial transformation. The group is backing OPC UA over TSN as the answer to this futile cycle.