23 Jul 2024


Rockwell and Fanuc collaborate to integrate PACs with CNCs

Rockwell Automation is collaborating with Fanuc FA America to provide closer integration between their PAC (programmable automation controller) and CNC (computer numerical control) environments. The aim is to allow both companies to deliver integrated automation systems for key markets, such as automotive and aerospace. The partners cite customer demand for integrated systems based on open platforms as being a key driver behind the collaborative effort.

The two companies will work together on connectivity between their controller platforms via open communication technologies, such as the EtherNet/IP and FL Net protocols. They say that end-users and OEMs will benefit from lower integration costs, improved synchronisation between platforms, and transparent data access across the manufacturing enterprise.

“This announcement is an important step to furthering Fanuc FA America’s strategy to focus on what we do best – which is the sales and support of Fanuc`s world-class CNCs – while working towards more flexible open interfaces to complementary automation systems,” says the company’s president, Tomoaki Ishibe. “Working with Rockwell Automation here in the Americas is a natural fit, given their industry leadership in programmable automation controllers and our shared customer base.”

“Our mutual customers need visibility into their manufacturing assets in order to help make more informed decisions and stay competitive,” adds Steve Eisenbrown, Rockwell’s senior vice-president for architecture and software. “Integrating Fanuc’s world-class CNC systems with the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system further strengthens our two companies’ ability to help customers achieve plant-wide optimisation.”

The partners will focus initially on developing, deploying and promoting integration technologies that simplify applications and improve the performance of industrial automation systems where both CNCs and PACs are used. They will document integration methods, quantify integration savings, and work with joint customers to solve their application challenges, using an integrated CNC and PAC platform.

Fanuc FA America (known until recently as Fanuc CNC America) represents the FA (Factory Automation) division of its Japanese parent, Fanuc. It claims to be the largest CNC organisation in the Americas with more than 350 employees dedicated to CNC sales, service and support.

Until last year, Fanuc had a 50:50 joint venture with General Electric, known for many years as GE Fanuc Automation. The JV, established in 1986, grew to become a leading global supplier of industrial technologies including automation hardware and software, services, embedded computing systems, and CNC products. In 2007, the automation, CNC and embedded systems operations were merged and renamed as GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms.

When they announced the ending of the JV, the two companies said the move would allow each of them to refocus its investments to expand its existing businesses and to pursue its core expertise. The JV was finally dissolved in December 2009.

In addition to the Factory Automation division, Fanuc has two other divisions – Robot and RoboMachine. The company recently announced that it had achieved the milestone of producing more than ten million servomotors – 40,000 of them being large machines with continuous torque ratings of 100–3,000Nm.