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High performance, future-proofed

Rockwell Automation has evolved its integrated architecture into a high performance version that's smart, productive and secure.

By Dave Perkon

Tech Ed 2016 banner

Today’s high performance architecture from Rockwell Automation can provide an easy way to make more cars. A recent study by an automotive customer planning a processor migration found that by just changing to the new Allen-Bradley ControlLogix 5580 controller it could produce 100 more cars a month thanks to a substantially faster scan time. And if upgrading the controller isn't fast enough, earlier this year, Rockwell Automation unveiled new Allen-Bradley Compact I/O that is 40% smaller and offers a 10-fold increase in performance.

Rockwell Automation has made a number of technology investments over the past few years to boost the performance of its systems, commented Frank Kulaszewicz, senior vice president of architecture and software, at this week’s Rockwell Automation TechED event in Orlando. The new, high performance architecture combines the Integrated Architecture with unified communications, systems intelligence and industrial information management.

"Our high performance architecture is future-proof, creating value over time and taking advantage of new capabilities as they come to market," noted Kulaszewicz. "Backwards compatibility is important, but taking advantages of capabilities as they evolve is equally important. Technology is changing quickly, and we want our customers to be able to take advantage of that."

Logix and Studio 5000

"The core of the high performance architecture is Logix," said Fran Wlodarczyk vice president and general manager product management, control and visualization, during his turn at the TechED keynote podium. "The latest controllers, the ControlLogix 5580 and CompactLogix 5380 also have additional bandwidth to move information important for The Connected Enterprise. They have the latest technology under the hood and are a platform for the future."

"The backbone of the high performance architecture is a secure network based on standard unmodified Ethernet, and 1-gigabit Ethernet is embedded," said Wlodarczyk. "With this connection, we are continuing to partner with Cisco to bring together the best of the IT and OT worlds. This collaboration will result in a security appliance later this year for the Stratix family of products that is essentially an industrial firewall with deep packet inspection allowing both IT and OT personnel to manage traffic with increased security."

Wlodarczyk also discussed some of the new functionality of the Studio 5000 design environment, including a library tool for managing graphics and logic. “Protecting intellectual property created within Studio 5000 is also important, so we recently released a license-based content protection system that allows you to create your own security keys for greater protection.” Later this year, Rockwell Automation is excited to add interfaces to third-party engineering tools, Wlodarczyk continued. “We’re working with market leaders to provide bi-directional data flow to electrical CAD and simulation packages.”

In addition to programming and visualization, Studio 5000 Application Code Manager will have a new addition in October, Application Content. "I am proud and excited to see Application Content from Rockwell Automation becoming part of a more formalized offering," said Joachim Thomsen, senior manager, application IP. "Our vision for Application Content is to make an active contribution by helping engineers create automation projects in an efficient and sustainable way." Also in the works are best-practice programming add on instructions (AOI) and standard program templates that will reduce engineering time, Thomsen said.

Visualization and mobility

Similar to the company’s advances in design software, controllers, I/O and networks, Rockwell Automation also is making investments in its visualization portfolio, continued Wlodarczyk. "This includes driving productivity, modernizing the portfolio and embracing mobile technology," he said. "The release of the PanelView 5500 starts the drive in productivity by reducing engineering hours with tight integration to Logix controllers and intuitive development workflow. Some of Logix integration is also extending to the FactoryTalk View SE product, with better exposed tag data and an improved trend template."

"We have mobilized many of our products, but more exciting is our work to transform the smartphone into an industrial tool – an effort code-named Project Stanton," said Wlodarczyk. "Later this year, we will release an app platform for maintenance personnel with modules to drive productivity. Future modules will focus on other areas of the manufacturing space."

Rockwell Automation also introduced self-aware and system-aware concepts. Self-aware, for example, is a photo-eye that knows it needs to be cleaned or aligned. Rockwell released the self-aware Kinetix 5000 family, which is a space-saving, high-performance motion control package with dynamic auto-tuning features.

Self-aware devices working together translates into system-awareness. Think of it as machine capability and functionality without having to program it, Wlodarczyk said. System-aware pieces of this high performance architecture include the company’s recently acquired iTRAK and MagneMotion linear motor conveyor platforms. “These systems provide the ability to move product within machines or between machines,” said Wlodarczyk. The platform is modular and has "polite" cart traffic management, accumulation and merging functionality with little programming needed. “It's system-aware and handles much of that automatically.”

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