Report from ARC automation expert Craig Resnick on the recent Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group meeting and Automation Fair last week in Anaheim:
Rockwell Automation’s 23rd annual 2014 Automation Fair event in Anaheim, California was held with an event-wide focus on The Connected Enterprise. The Automation Fair event was held Nov. 20 and 21. This year’s exhibits showcase advanced power, control and information solutions that secure shared information with suppliers and consumers across processes and facilities. Attendance was about 10,000, with about 4,850 customers from around the globe, with over 144 exhibitors from members of its Partner Network program, which includes encompass partners, solution partners, OEM partners, alliance partners, universities, publications, and standards organizations. 9 industry forums were also held for OEM, Food & Beverage, Mining, Safety OEM, Connected Enterprise, Oil & Gas, Power & Energy, Safety, and Water & Wastewater. At the event, attendees have free access to 99 technical education sessions, 18 hands-on labs, and 17 workshops to receive professional development credits. This is often the driving force that helps Rockwell Automation’s customers justify event attendance.
Before Automation Fair, the annual Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting was held on Nov. 17 and 18. Attendance was over 900, from 30 countries and 22 industries, with 20 educational sessions being offered to attendees. On Tuesday, Nov. 18, global media and industry analysts attended the half-day media forum, Automation Perspectives, to hear how manufacturers and producers are operationalizing The Connected Enterprise, discussing the benefits, such as improved flexibility and agility in meeting demand, and its challenges, including increased security risks. Speakers addressed the role of information-enabled machines at the site-level, best practices for employee training and utilization, and ways to manage uptime in facilities. They also discussed the role of remote asset management, business growth with their customers, and how MES brings it all together.
There were a number of announcements made throughout the week:
Rockwell Automation and AT&T to Work Together to Make Smarter Machines
Rockwell Automation and AT&T are collaborating to improve remote asset utilization and connected machine management. The companies plan to deliver cellular solutions that help enable Rockwell Automation customers to more securely collect, manage and take action on data from industrial equipment located in plants and remote sites around the globe.
By bringing together the AT&T Global SIM and M2X Data Service platform with Rockwell Automation cloud-enabled service offerings, customers can connect automation assets and industrial machinery to remote experts. This allows for more timely and proactive preventive maintenance and operational improvement practices throughout the life of these assets.
The companies are also working to develop reference architecture and validated designs for cellular IoT deployments within industrial sites. These tools will help guide customers in the design and use of cellular connected assets in ways that can complement the existing in-plant network infrastructure. This will help plant owners to leverage connected machine management services offered by multiple equipment suppliers without overburdening their in-plant network infrastructure or violating enterprise security standards.
Rockwell Automation and Cisco Develop Design and Implementation Guide for Deploying Wireless Equipment in The Connected Enterprise
Rockwell Automation and Cisco announced the release of a white paper and design and implementation guide titled, “Deploying 802.11 Wireless LAN Technology within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture.” The detailed design guidance will help control system engineers, IT network engineers, and system integrators implement IP-based wireless networks.
The guide provides information on 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) architecture, including design considerations for fixed position, nomadic and mobile equipment use cases. It also includes explanations for how to configure, maintain and troubleshoot WLAN for each use case, and detailed documentation on how the architectures were tested and validated by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. With this new resource, network designers can create a small network within a plant using a single autonomous access point, and scale up to create a larger, unified WLAN architecture.
The recommendations provided in these documents were demonstrated in the Industrial IP Advantage booth at this year’s Automation Fair event in Anaheim, California. The entire booth, a small-scale representation of the CPwE architecture, featured a plant operations control room equipped with a WLAN controller and Cisco Lightweight Access Point. The network extends to process and packaging areas in the booth via the Allen Bradley Stratix 5100 wireless access point/work group bridge, which was jointly developed by Rockwell Automation and Cisco.
Rockwell Automation and Cisco position its partnership as a resource in industry for helping manufacturers to improve business performance by bridging the technical and cultural gaps between plant-floor automation and higher-level information systems. Through collaboration on products, services, validated architectures and educational resources, the two companies seek to help manufacturers converge their network infrastructure, and bring together IT and operations using an IP-based network to help to achieve the connected enterprise.
Rockwell Automation Extends Modern DCS Capabilities with PlantPAx System Update
Rockwell Automation has added new virtualization, batch management and integrated motor control capabilities to its PlantPAx process automation system. With the latest system release, Rockwell Automation extends the capabilities of its modern distributed control system (DCS) platform to help simplify the system’s design, deployment, operation and maintenance.
Integrated Virtualization: Virtualization has become the rule more than the exception in global process facilities. It helps speed system integration time, lower hardware costs and burdens, and extend the lifecycle of plant equipment. The PlantPAx platform now makes it easier for users to implement virtualization. Built into the core documentation of the system is a selection guide that provides guidance and best practices for adopting a virtualized automation system.
Batch Recipe Management: Upgraded batch software more tightly integrates with the PlantPAx system for a range of applications, from small, basic sequencing to large, complex batch and sequencing. With new version-control capabilities, the software automatically tracks recipe changes and genealogy, and provides approval traceability in order to more easily manage recipes. This helps to simplify the management of recipes throughout their life cycle.
Rockwell Automation has also updated the batch and sequence manager in its modern DCS platform. This helps reduce engineering time for process machine builders and system integrators by allowing users to configure sequences directly in the controller. Incorporating batch management and optimizing continuous sequencing, the batch and sequence manager is suited for both skid control and stand-alone process units, such as mixers, blenders and reactors.
Intelligent Motor Control: Through integration with motor control devices – such as the Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 520-Series of AC drives, and Allen-Bradley motor starters and electronic overload relays – the PlantPAx system helps ease motor control configuration and delivers diagnostic information directly to the operator at the HMI level. This helps ease maintenance activities and helps allow operators to diagnose issues before they occur. System users can monitor key process conditions leveraging the EtherNet/IP network. Tying intelligent motor devices into the plantwide control architecture helps make an immediate, measurable impact on asset availability, operational efficiency and energy management.