PlantPAx Roadmap Responding to User Needs

Scalability, User Productivity Top List of Development Priorities

By Walt Boyes

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Automation Fair 2012


By definition, the typical user-group roadmap presentation is a forward look into planned product developments. But Ben Mansfield, PlantPAx marketing manager for Rockwell Automation, first offered attendees at this week's Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting in Philadelphia a look back at promises made one year ago in Chicago.

"Last year," Mansfield said, "We told you we were going to 64-bit operating systems on all our products. We defined the virtualized architecture and told you about expanded OEM offerings. We told you that we were going to expand our device connectivity options with a new Foundation Fieldbus device coupler, EtherNet/IP and a complete plant-wide wireless strategy.

"We said we were going to give you more power and control integration tools. We said we were going to give you more system design tools and a complete DCS migration strategy. We said we would have a version compatibility tool that you can use to determine what parts of your systems need upgrading.

"We said we were going to spend a large amount on R&D for advanced process control, and that we were expanding our services options for system support, lifecycle management, a new training curriculum and consultancy services.

"We did."

But Rockwell Automation is far from being through with its plans to grow its process business aggressively by meeting the demands of process manufacturers. Rockwell Automation is working to make PlantPAx implementations easier using virtualization and other tools. Improved operator effectiveness is another key PlantPAx deliverable, as are systems that are easily scalable from "one machine on a skid to a complete plant-wide control system," Mansfield said.

A Look Forward

"In 2013, we're going to introduce our Quick Start templates. PlantPAx will have basic system setups, allowing you to focus on your application specifics and your own intellectual property."

"We said last year," Mansfield continued, "that we would have a detailed DCS migration strategy. Now we have the tools to easily migrate from Siemens/Moore APACs, Foxboro I/A and Fisher Provox systems to PlantPAx."

In 2013, Mansfield continued, "we will have an Excel-based PlantPAx library configurator, and a PlantPAx Alarm Builder tool that will allow you to easily design system and process alarms. We are also providing a powerful Automated Sequencer tool and bringing our alarming systems into alignment with the ISA18.2 Alarm Management standard. This includes adding the 'shelve' capability and automatic timeout on operator suppressed alarms. All the suppression and disable capabilities are going to be aligned to the standard."

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