Rockwell Automation Unveils PlantPAx as New Process Umbrella

Nov. 18, 2008
Making Better Business Decisions

In his last appearance in his current role, Kevin Zaba, business director for process automation at Rockwell Automation, addressed the company’s Process Systems User Group (PSUG) meeting this week in Nashville, Tenn.  Zaba is taking a new role as director of systems and solutions for Asia, but meanwhile declared 2008 a very successful year for Rockwell Automation’s process business and announced 28% growth in process revenues for fiscal year 2008. 

“The integration of Incuity brings a uniform way to capture and present data in order to make better business decisions.” Rockwell Automation’s Kevin Zaba updated attendees of the company’s Process Solutions Group Meeting on Rockwell Automation’s “most important growth initiative.”

“This is consistent, market-beating growth,” Zaba said. “In the past year, we’ve made a series of organic system developments, as well as integrated some of our acquisitions, such as Incuity.”

He announced the acquisition just last week of Xi’an Hengsheng, a major Chinese heavy industry system integrator, located in Western China, which, he said, gives Rockwell Automation some serious capabilities in the power and refining industries. This, he noted, was in addition to the establishment of a Process Center of Excellence in Asia.

More integration talk included a discussion of the ongoing effort to integrate Pavilion8 to FactoryTalk for extended scalability and the ongoing effort to integrate ICS Triplex into the Logix family. This integration effort includes providing an EtherNet/IP communications pathway to and from the Triplex family of controllers and the new Triplex platform, AAdvance.

Another process advance from the integration of Pavilion Technologies, Zaba noted, is the new ability to do advanced process control strategies in the controllers themselves. Controllers can now do runtime imports, and there have been substantial improvements in library management, including serious growth in the reusable process library, which is linked with Engineering Workstation.

In the area of fieldbus and asset management, there are some significant improvements, as well, Zaba said. FactoryTalk is now FDT-enabled. There is a plug-in for device calibration, and the HART I/O is now SIL2-rated by TŰV Rheinland. New, high-performance HART I/O has been added. “This is not 4-20 stuff,” Zaba said, “This is digital HART signal.”

There has been, he added, substantial progress in integrating Endress+Hauser and HART into the control system platform. The development of interface function blocks, workstation faceplates and other tools have vastly simplified project engineering.

Zaba then introduced FactoryTalk Batch software version 10, with common reporting tools, Windows Vista compatibility and extensive, pre-templated batch reports.

Zaba also announced that Rockwell Automation was re-branding the company’s process industry offering as PlantPAx: systems and solutions for obtaining plant automation excellence. “This is the unification of all of our investments to date,” Zaba said, “and the integration of our core capabilities. It is the exemplification of the leadership of Rockwell Automation in process.”

“This strengthens our capability, gives us more steps toward end-to-end, higher availability, more fieldbus, better engineering,” Zaba said. “It allows Rockwell Automation to integrate very closely the Pavilion and Incuity acquisitions as part of PlantPAx, and will allow us more easily, for example, to optimize energy management for sustainable manufacturing.”

So, what else is coming? More high availability and safety. Rockwell Automation intends to use Triplex for redundant I/O in the basic process control system. There will be more development of the Triplex AAdvance system and the integration of Ethernet/IP with Triplex.

Rockwell Automation’s roadmap includes broader HART I/O capabilities, as well as higher density of I/O using WirelessHART. Zaba also said that Rockwell Automation would be increasing its connectivity efforts for other fieldbuses, such as Profibus, Profibus PA and Foundation Fieldbus. Increased capabilities for asset management are also forthcoming.f

“We’re making some serious changes to Engineering Workstation, including integrated engineering, integrated visualization and integrated plant design,” Zaba said. The recent development work to allow bidirectional integration with the Delmia design environment from Dassault Systemes is reusable, Zaba said, and the company expects to offer the same functionality for plant design software systems soon.