IIoT

Smart industry compels The Connected Enterprise

Data-driven initiatives are best addressed with commercial technology including standard, unmodified Ethernet.

By Paul Studebaker, editor in chief, Control

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The world has discovered a tremendous opportunity for businesses to benefit by harnessing data from machines. Over the past two years, smart manufacturing initiatives around the world have led to public/private partnerships that are writing specifications for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the cloud and mobility, and industry consortia are forming to drive the initiatives.

“New products over the next 12-18 months will show how we’re working to extend process control and information software, and how we’re uniquely positioned to leverage our portfolio for value-based outcomes – for your financial results,” said John Genovesi, vice president and general manager, Information Software and Process Business, Rockwell Automation, in his keynote presentation at Rockwell Automation TechED this week in Orlando.

The conventional DCS continues to rely on closed, locked-down, centralized systems that offer determinism, redundancy and high availability, but make it costly to procure, maintain and run. “Users are locked into expensive service agreements, and it’s hard to integrate other systems and standalone equipment such as skids,” Genovesi said.

In contrast, the Rockwell Automation modern DCS uses commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) technology to support plant-wide systems. Its DCS extends beyond the process to the balance of the plant with networks that offer better data, better access and integration, with an open, future-proof approach that is easily updated.

“Conventional DCS network infrastructures are closed and proprietary, and not easily extended,” Genovesi said. “You end up with disparate, multiple, proprietary systems that do not work well with each other or with IT. Instead, we use standard, unmodified Ethernet, the same on the plant floor as in the office. It’s flexible, adapts to new technology, and is secure, because it’s easily adapted to changing threats and their requirements.”

“Our PlantPAx library and design tools also make it easy to design, implement and modify systems,” Genovesi said. “We have thousands of engineers around the globe, but can’t be all things to all people, so there are also thousands of partners to help get the right things in the right places.”  

Information management on the rise

Today, fewer than 14% of manufacturers connect their production to the enterprise, and many report increased cyber security risk and the loss of intellectual property. “A single, secure, robust network infrastructure is essential,” Genovesi said. That’s why Rockwell Automation leverages Ethernet architecture. It also speeds IT/OT integration – millions of IT professionals can use it – and it facilitates the use of commercial technology in manufacturing.

Think of automation devices as smart, connected assets, all producing information about their own state. “We call it self-awareness,” Genovesi said. “They can give you a tremendous amount of information about your process.”

If your factory could talk, the collected data could tell you how much energy is consumed per unit product and give you alerts to correct deviations. “It’s said that we’ll have 44 ZB of data by 2020, but only one-third of it is useful for analysis, and only a third of companies have begun putting it to work,” Genovesi added.

Rockwell Automation continues to work with OSIsoft to integrate its PI data infrastructure in Rockwell Automation systems, at both the edge and enterprise levels.

Martin Otterson, senior vice president, sales, marketing and industry, OSIsoft, added,  “We need to go from just a historian to an infrastructure that goes from the edge of production to the cloud, with context and the ability to leverage third-party applications,” such as MES, condition monitoring, energy management and future data-mining and analysis applications yet to be defined.

“The cloud, mobility and virtualization are disruptive to old systems, but we can easily integrate them.” Genovesi said. “Technology lifecycles are becoming ever shorter. Don’t be a hostage to your DCS.”