Plant-Floor Data Sharing on Parade

Access the right data at the right time at any level of operations.

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Among the featured displays on the exhibit floor of this year’s Automation Fair is Rockwell Automation’s collection of data-sharing solutions. A theater with 12-minute videos, interactive kiosks and an “Integrated Architecture Wall” all tell various parts of the company’s Integrated Architecture story and value proposition.

Rockwell Automation’s two-pronged approach to plant-floor data sharing is comprised of the FactoryTalk Integrated Production and Performance Suite and the Logix Control Platform.

FIRST Robotics competitors maneuver their robot on the Automation Fair exhibit floor. The program challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard "kit of parts" and a common set of rules.
“Integrated Architecture is a common platform for doing things that people typically do on the plant floor with point solutions,” explained Darren Riley, business segment lead for software and applications. “Logix Control is a hardware architecture that allows you to bring process, discrete, motion, security and safety into a single platform. FactoryTalk is the equivalent on the software side.”

Integrated Architecture is designed to break down the silos of information that result when manufacturers use different control and information systems for each type of production discipline—discrete, process and batch control, drive control and safety applications. The Logix Control Platform uses a single control platform, development environment and a single, open communication protocol. All of the modules are fully integrated and scaleable.

FactoryTalk addresses the same challenge from the software side and combined with the Logix Control Platform, is a core component of Integrated Architecture, said Riley. “Our customers have a lot of things to do in a lot of different areas. They ask us, ‘How do I do all that in a single architecture with similar tools that all work together?’”

The manufacturing disciplines addressed by FactoryTalk include design and configuration, production management, data management, quality and compliance, asset management and performance and visibility. They are all designed with extensive connectivity to third-party and legacy systems though the Software as a Service (SaaS) architecture that enables users to reuse software modules, saving time and development costs. “If I need a particular service, all I have to do is ask the software to provide it,” said Riley.

One of the newest FactoryTalk modules on display is FactoryTalk Historian Site Edition (SE). Not a data historian itself, Historian SE is a software module that enables users to identify, gather and configure detailed data from any control system or HMI software. It automatically discovers all controllers and HMI devices in the plant and their associated data points and presents the information to users.

FactoryTalk Historian SE is based on technology licensed from OSIsoft and uses a distributed, tiered architecture that enables employees in different locations and at operating levels to view and analyze historical data from their individual perspectives.

“Our long-term FactoryTalk Historian strategy is designed to help ensure that organizations can access the right data at the right time at any level of operations,” says Kevin Roach, vice president of software for Rockwell Automation. “Manufacturers can facilitate the information flow by tightly integrating historian capability at the device level and incorporating aspects of historian functionally into other relevant plant information applications. Doing so increases the breadth, depth and accuracy of available data.”

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