Rockwell Automation accomplishes its plant-wide optimization by using new technologies and its longstanding Integrated Architecture strategy to "converge" the plant, open new levels of visibility, enable flexible and fast responses to market demands, and further simplify basic functions and systems, Nesi said. "Users get more and better information if they can combine their automation and information systems, but it's been hard and costly to get these disparate plant and business systems to work together," he added. "We've been doing this for more than 10 years with our Integrated Architecture and Logix solutions, but now we're getting even deeper into process, safety and other information layers. This includes making our PlantPAx process automation architecture part of one cohesive system, and moving formerly offline modeling onto the rack to aid core platforms. This allows us to extend users' investment and get answers that ERP systems just can't provide."
PSUG's second keynote speaker, Larry O'Brien, process automation research director at ARC Advisory Group, confirmed that Rockwell Automation is one of the top DCS suppliers, but added that all the process industries continue to face challenges from labor shortages, safety, plant optimization, installed base, operations and commercial off-the-shelf issues. "We're now losing thousands of years of individual experience and knowledge, and once those employees and their brains walk out the door, it's not likely to come back," O'Brien said. "The new process automation end user is getting younger, though their average age is still in the 50s; they have more academic credentials; and they're more comfortable with social media, Internet, mobile computing, gaming, texting and wireless."
Beyond the experience exodus, O'Brien added, there's a disturbing increase in the frequency and severity of safety incidents, even though all of them were the result of preventable causes. Likewise, he added that many managers also aren't taking advantage of plant-wide optimization opportunities or integrating across their supply chains. "However, plant-wide control can reduce project costs, and then also contribute to bottom-line energy savings."
To give plants and their emerging knowledge workers the tools and information they need, PSUG's third keynote speaker, Som Chakraborti, director of Rockwell Automation's process automation business, reported that the company is adding to PlantPAx system's capabilities with this week's announcement and next quarter's launch of PlantPAx System Release 2.0, and also expanding its channel programs for its process customers with 50 new global solution integrator partners.
"In the past year, we've had PlantPAx successes in a range of applications, including consumer products, life sciences, pulp and paper, cement, minerals and mining, metals, oil and gas, water utilities and power," Chakraborti said. "This has been a very strong trend of adoptions. We began building PlantPAx system's to have a DCS-like appeal, then integrated acquisitions and partnerships to its core, and so now we have a unified PlantPAx DCS and process portfolio. The next phase is expanding PlantPAx for larger projects with high capital expenditures that need high availability, but then also focus on smaller processes capabilities for OEMs."
PlantPAx system's new high-availability functions will include HMI data and alarming capabilities, control via Logix L73 and L75 controllers, communications with EtherNet/IP, and 1715 Series I/O based on ICS Triplex technology.
Chakraborti added that Rockwell Automation also will introduce its AADvance "brains in a box" for SIL2 safety applications, and a new high-density HART I/O module.