Rockwell Automation has been the North American market share leader in many automation product categories for decades.

As such, many of us have naturally become incredibly interested in what new features and capabilities are coming in each new hardware and software release.

Over the last three decades one of the best places to learn about what’s new and coming from Rockwell was in the “What’s New” sessions held each year at Automation Fair.

Typically these would include What’s New with ControlLogix, Studio 5000, PanelView HMIs, ViewSE, PowerFlex, Kinetix, Micro800, and more.

The best part was, most years you didn’t to attend in person to get up to speed, as Rockwell wisely made the presentations available to the general public after the show as I’ve documented here, here, here, and here.

Personally, this was something I looked forward to every November, whether is was one of the twenty or so times I attended in person, or by reviewing the presentations after the show when I couldn’t attend.

This lead to a lot of free press for Rockwell, as I created over fifty articles and videos based on Automation Fair, which you’ll find posted right here on The Automation Blog.

So you can imagine my disappointment this week when I learned that for 2021 Rockwell condensed ALL of the “What’s New” presentations into a single, short presentation with almost no technical details, accompanied by a narration which seemed derived from the latest sales brochures?

Take the Micro800 for instance.

While I became a big fan of the Micro800 after teaching my first course on it, most A-B PLC users have been asking for the programming environment to become more like Studio 5000.

Where’s the beef? In previous years the Micro800 would have had it’s own session. It 2021 it and many other products only got a single slide.

So you would think the news of a new generation of Micro800’s (along with the possibility of a more “Studio like” programming environment,) would warrant its own “What’s New” presentation as in previous years?

Instead, we got a single slide teasing something coming in March of 2022, that also praises the features of the Micro850 released in 2009?

Granted the Micro800 line is small potatoes compared to interest in ControlLogix, CompactLogix, and Studio 5000, but the only thing I could find related to the next release of Studio 5000 (or it’s replacement?) was a slide about Rockwell’s new online development tools:

No What’s New and coming with Studio 5000?

What about the next version of Logix and Studio, and any new features and functions?

What about the latest developments with the PanelView Plus 7 and PanelView 5500?

As far as I can tell, you’ll find none of this information on the virtual side of this year’s Automation Fair.

Now I do understand there’s a place for presentations like this, just like there’s a place for glossy brochures and flashy ads full of marketing slogans like Faster, Better, Cheaper, and so on.

But those of us who are experienced users want detailed news on the latest features and updates.

So when all we find is a single, non-technical “What’s New with everything” presentation, it’s kind of like finding a piece of coal in your stocking.

And that brings me to why I’ve spent the couple of hours putting this article together.

I’m hoping to let Rockwell (and other vendors) know that those of us who are experienced users of their products NEED regular technical updates on what’s new and coming.

And while we all understand there is a place for flashy slides full of simplified lists of features and benefits, we the experienced users are well beyond that.

Do you agree with me, or did am I missing the point somehow? Please feel free to chime in below in the comment area below my signature.

Until next time, Peace ✌️ 

Shawn M Tierney
Technology Enthusiast & Content Creator

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