Rockwell Automation

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Rockwell Automation, Inc.
TypePublic company
Founded1903; 118 years ago (1903)
HeadquartersMilwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Blake Moret, Chairman and CEO[1]
ProductsIndustrial Automation
Electric motors
Manufacturing Execution System
RevenueIncrease US$6.69 billion (2019)
Number of employees
23,000[2] (2019)
Rockwell Automation's global headquarters in Milwaukee, WI

Rockwell Automation, Inc. is an American provider of industrial automation and information technology. Brands include Allen-Bradley and Factory Talk software.[3]

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs over 23,000 people and has customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. The Fortune 500 company reported fiscal year 2019 global sales at $6.69 billion.[4]


Early years[edit]

Rockwell Automation traces its origins to 1903 and the formation of the Compression Rheostat Company, founded by Lynde Bradley and Dr. Stanton Allen with an initial investment of $1000.[5]

In 1904, 19-year-old Harry Bradley joined his brother in the business.

The company's first patented product was a carbon disc compression-type motor controller for industrial cranes. The crane controller was demonstrated at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.

In 1909, the company was renamed the Allen-Bradley Company.[6]

Allen-Bradley expanded rapidly during World War I in response to government-contracted work. Its product line grew to include automatic starters and switches, circuit breakers, relays and other electric equipment.

In 1914, Fred Loock established the company's first sales office in New York.

Upon co-founder Stanton Allen's death in 1916, Lynde Bradley became president. Harry Bradley was appointed vice president and attorney Louis Quarles was named corporate secretary.

In 1918 Allen-Bradley hired its first female factory worker, Julia Bizewski Polczynski, who was promoted to foreman the following year.

During the 1920s, the company grew its miniature rheostat business to support the burgeoning radio industry. By the middle of this decade, nearly 50 percent of the company's sales were attributed to the radio department. The decade closed with record company sales of $3 million.

By 1932, the Great Depression had taken its toll and the company posted record losses. Amid growing economic pressure, Allen-Bradley reduced its workforce from 800 to 550 and cut wages by 50 percent. To lessen the financial burden, Lynde and Harry Bradley implemented a unique program: the company replaced employees’ lost wages with preferred stock. Eventually, the company bought back all stock at six percent interest.

Throughout this period, Lynde Bradley supported an aggressive research and development approach intended to "develop the company out of the Depression." Lynde Bradley's R&D strategy was successful. By 1937, Allen-Bradley employment had rebounded to pre-Depression levels and company sales reached an all-time high of nearly $4 million.

Mid-20th century[edit]

Following the death of Lynde Bradley in 1942, Harry Bradley became company president and Fred Loock was promoted to vice president. The Lynde Bradley Foundation, a charitable trust, was established with Lynde Bradley's assets. The foundation's first gift of $12,500 was made to Milwaukee's Community Fund, predecessor of the United Way.

World War II fueled unprecedented levels of production, with 80 percent of the company's orders being war-related. Wartime orders were centered on two broad lines of products – industrial controls to speed production and electrical components or "radio parts" used in a wide range of military equipment.

Allen-Bradley expanded its facilities numerous times during the 1940s to meet war-time production needs. With Fred Loock serving as president and Harry Bradley as chairman, the company began a major $1 million, two-year expansion project in 1947. The company completed additional expansions at its Milwaukee facilities in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Allen-Bradley clock tower. The clock tower has since been renamed, and is known today as the Rockwell Automation clock tower.

Harry Bradley died in 1965. Fred Loock retired in 1967 and died in 1973.

Late 20th century[edit]

During the 1970s, the company expanded its production facilities and markets and entered the 1980s as a global company. With president J. Tracy O'Rourke (1981–89) at the helm, the company introduced a new line of programmable logic controllers, the PLC in 1981 followed by the PLC-2 Family(1982)(2/30, 2/05/ 2/16&2/17) PLC-3(1982) SLC-100 Family(1986) SLC-500(1986) PLC-5 Family (1985). Earlier PLC developments were the MAC, PLC-4.

In 1985 privately owned Allen-Bradley set a new fiscal record with sales of $1 billion. On February 20, 1985 Rockwell International purchased Allen-Bradley for $1.651 billion; this was the largest acquisition in Wisconsin's history to date.[7] For all intents and purposes, Allen-Bradley took over Rockwell's industrial automation division.

The 1990s featured continued technology development, including the company's launch of its software business, Rockwell Software (1994), the Logix control platform (1997) and the Integrated Architecture system (1999). Rockwell International developed PowerFlex, a manufacturing software and technology in the 1990s.[8]

During this decade, Rockwell International also acquired a power systems business, composed of Reliance Electric and Dodge. These two brands, combined with control systems brands Allen-Bradley and Rockwell Software, were marketed as Rockwell Automation.

In 1998, Keith Nosbusch was named president of Rockwell Automation Control Systems. Rockwell International Corporation headquarters was moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin the same year.[9]

21st century[edit]

Previous logo

In 2001, Rockwell International split into two companies. The industrial automation division became Rockwell Automation, while the avionics division became Rockwell Collins.[10] The split was structured so that Rockwell Automation was the legal successor of Rockwell International, while Rockwell Collins was the spin-off. Rockwell Automation retains Rockwell International's stock price history, and continues to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ROK".

Keith Nosbusch was named chief executive officer in 2004.[11]

In 2007, Rockwell Automation sold the Power Systems division for $1.8 billion to Baldor Electric Company[12] to focus on its core competencies in automation and information technology.

In 2007, Rockwell Automation acquired ICS Triplex.

In April 2016, it was announced that Keith Nosbusch would be replaced by Blake Moret, effective July 1, 2016. Nosbusch would remain with Rockwell Automation as chairman.[13] Moret was previously the senior vice president of the Control Products and Solutions segment of the company.[14]

Effective January 1, 2018, Keith Nosbusch will step down as Chairman. Blake Moret was elected the incoming Chairman by the board of directors.[15]

On June 11, 2018, Rockwell Automation made a $1bn equity investment in PTC acquiring an 8.4% ownership stake.[16]

In December 2019, the launch of the Digital Partner Program was announced to guide and simplify industry digital transformation.[17]

On January 8, 2020, Rockwell Automation announced the acquisition of Israeli-based cybersecurity provider Avnet Data Security, LTD.[18]

On May 4, 2020, Rockwell Automation announced the acquisition of Kalypso L.P., a professional services firm focused on IT and OT systems implementation and management consulting.


Business segments[edit]

Rockwell Automation operates its business through two segments – Architecture and Software, and Control Products and Solutions.

  • The Architecture and Software segment contains key elements of the Rockwell Automation control and information platforms, software applications and automation components.
  • Control Products and Solutions consists of motor control products and services.


Rockwell Automation covers control systems, industrial control components, information software, motor control devices, sensing devices, network technology, safety technology, and industrial security.


Rockwell Automation has engineered systems that range from custom-designed, bundled components to large, turnkey system integration projects. Services include repair, asset management consulting and remote support centers and training.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rockwell Automation – Corporate Governance". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  2. ^ "Rockwell Automation". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  3. ^ "Manufacturing Software from Rockwell Automation – Production & Efficiency". Rockwell Automation. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  4. ^ "Rockwell Automation Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2019 Results; Provides Fiscal 2020 Guidance". Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Rockwell Automation Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Allen-Bradley® Brand". 30 January 2003. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  8. ^ "Allen-Bradley (Rockwell Automation) | Encyclopedia of Milwaukee". Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  9. ^ "Will Rockwell Find Some Roots?". Bloomberg Business News. 9 May 1999. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  10. ^ "Rockwell to Change Name to Rockwell Automation after Rockwell Collins spinoff". 20 February 2001. Archived from the original on 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  11. ^ "Rockwell Automation Announces CEO Keith Nosbusch To Become Chairman, Don Davis To Retire". Business Wire. 1 December 2004. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  12. ^ "Baldor Electric Company to Acquire the Power Systems Business of Rockwell Automation, Inc". PR Newswire. 7 November 2006. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  13. ^ Beilfuss, Lisa. "Rockwell Automation Names New CEO". WSJ. WSJ. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  14. ^ "New Rockwell Automation CEO named". Plant & Works Engineering. June 17, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  15. ^ "Rockwell Automation Announces CEO Blake Moret to become Chairman". Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  16. ^ Ajmera, Ankit (June 11, 2018). "Rockwell to take $1 billion stake in software maker PTC" – via
  17. ^ Rodriguez, Luis (4 December 2019). "Rockwell Automation Launches Its Digital Partner Program". Automation World. Chicago, USA. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  18. ^

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