Rockwell releases process automation roadmap

Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 18 — Rockwell Automation today announced its roadmap for process automation that includes bringing together its end-to-end suite with a new name – Rockwell Automation PlantPAx systems and solutions. PlantPAx systems and solutions are based on the significant investments the company has made in process automation.

“This roadmap represents a culmination of the investments we’ve made to extend and enhance our process technologies, systems, solutions and services,” said Steve Eisenbrown, senior vice president, Automation and Software, Rockwell Automation. “It also reflects tremendous progress in integrating our organic investments with our partner and acquisition investments. The PlantPAx portfolio is the next step in our commitment to help customers achieve process automation excellence. It unifies our core capabilities and technologies with those of our market leading partners, such as OSIsoft and Endress+Hauser, and acquisitions, such as Incuity, Pavilion Technologies, ICS Triplex and ProsCon, under a common systems and solutions umbrella to provide even greater market innovation and value to process industry customers.”

Rockwell Automation showcased the PlantPAx process automation system, a key component of the portfolio, at the Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) conference on Nov. 17 and 18, in conjunction with its Automation Fair event. The company laid out plans for continued expansion of the system based on a combination of the two core Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture technologies, the Logix platform and the FactoryTalk suite, and those leveraged from co-investments with partners and acquired companies. The PlantPAx process automation system has built strong interest for a range of applications across consumer and resource-based industries.

Key areas highlighted during the PlantPAx system presentations included:

System Engineering – The PlantPAx system further environment will offer process and batch control users a new library of reusable control objects with tools to simplify its deployment. It also includes the recently released advanced process control (APC) functions to enhance the performance of slow-response process loops. A future release will include the ability to populate the PlantPAx system with modules from multiple plant design and engineering tools. These and other actions are core to the company’s philosophy to continually enhance the system engineering environment as a common platform for plant-wide control.

Control and Visualization Platforms – Control strategies and accompanying visualization are configured using modular and reusable objects, simplifying design, commissioning and maintenance. Continued advances around system high availability serve to minimize or eliminate downtime and process disruptions caused by control system modifications. The PlantPAx system also delivers an evolving alarm platform that allows operators to manage native alerts, as well as those associated with third-party controlled equipment, in accordance with current industry standards.

Performance and Process Optimization – The PlantPAx system extends the scope of process optimization to include fuzzy logic, basic and advanced process loop tuning and, at the high end, the model-predictive control (MPC) suite from the acquisition of Pavilion Technologies. The MPC suite has added a new dimension to the company’s process optimization portfolio, helping manufacturers achieve efficient economic performance from production assets. The MPC offering from Pavilion Technologies, while an integral element of the PlantPAx system, will continue to function as a stand-alone supervisory application with DCS and PLCs from other suppliers. 

Batch and Sequencing – Rockwell Automation provides solutions from basic sequencing to the most complex and demanding batch applications. The PlantPAx system has the distinct market advantage of using core batch and sequencing technologies, which over the years have been adopted by other control system suppliers. The system adheres to ISA-88 standards and presents a scalable batch control capability that includes a controller-based state machine for local sequencing applications to more comprehensive server-based batch control with material tracking and electronic batch records advantages.

Process Safety and Critical Control – ICS Triplex is integrated with the PlantPAx system to help deliver the highest availability safety solutions worldwide. The integration over EtherNet/IP allows users of ICS Triplex safety solutions the many advantages of Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture.

Asset Management – As an integral element of the PlantPAx system, expansion of the company’s asset management suite includes new data delivery capabilities, tools and procedures that track assets and their performance. Version management of control assets, calibration management of process instrumentation and valuable diagnostics for HART and process fieldbus devices are included in the offering. A subsequent release will add enhancements to the company’s device configuration philosophy.

Plant Information – The PlantPAx system allows plant-wide process data management through its historian capability. The historian offering, based on the PI System from OSIsoft, is integrated with the Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Integrated Production and Performance Software Suite. Further, the new FactoryTalk VantagePoint enterprise manufacturing intelligence and reporting software helps enable aggregation, analysis and display of plant information.

In addition to these key focus areas, Rockwell Automation will demonstrate an update on its alliance with Endress+Hauser in support of pretested interoperability between instrumentation and control. This includes preferred integration documents illustrating the unique control advantages and diagnostics for asset management provided by the joint solution. Furthermore, the two companies will work together to reduce project life-cycle costs such as engineering integration, commissioning and startup.

“ARC has watched Rockwell Automation evolve from a component supplier to the process industries, to a full-fledged process automation systems and solutions supplier, and we believe the commitment to the process industries is stronger than it has ever been,” said Larry O’Brien, research director, process automation, ARC Advisory Group. “A big part of the value proposition to the process industries is driving out the incredible amount of customization that has traditionally been required to make applications communicate with each other from the instrument level through the automation system, operations management and business systems. Rockwell Automation has come a long way in driving out this customization through a unified suite of applications with FactoryTalk software, its acquisitions of Pavilion and ICS Triplex, and its alliances with Endress+Hauser and OSIsoft. The PlantPAx system is a big evolutionary step forward for Rockwell Automation, and essentially brings all their process expertise together.”

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