Devices smarten up to better aid humans

Nov. 9, 2021

Despite enterprises’ climb toward autonomous operation, human interaction remains at the crux of productivity in any environment. And new product offerings being featured at Automation Fair 2021 in Houston combine device intelligence with human usability.

“We expand human possibility to enable industrial companies and their people to be more productive and sustainable,” explained Fran Wlodarczyk, senior vice president, intelligent devices, at Rockwell Automation. “Intelligent devices are the foundation of the Connected Enterprise production system. We can take information to prevent unplanned downtime or improve throughput or quality.”

Rockwell Automation’s broad portfolio of products includes many intelligent devices, which are grouped into four categories:

  • sensing and industrial-control components,

  • safety devices,

  • power-control devices, and

  • motion-control devices.

Wlodarczyk used the automobile as an analogy for automation to autonomous implementation in the factory. When the tire-pressure warning light first showed up on the dashboard it was an example of data visualization improving productivity. Properly inflated tires mean better gas mileage and longer tire life.

The oil-change sensor and light tell a driver when to do maintenance, just like lubrication monitoring on machines in an industrial plant.

“Safety devices are critical to autonomous operation,” explained Wlodarczyk. Auto-distance sensing on a car, for example, is designed to keep the automobile a safe distance from other cars in traffic. And an example of a simple digital thread is a driver’s mobile phone synchronizing to the automobile. “It’s all on your entertainment and navigation system,” explained Wlodarczyk. “The devices share and consume information.”

Rockwell Automation is creating an autonomous infrastructure and categorizing information for device identity; state; run-time data such as speed and energy usage; and maintenance data to prevent unplanned downtime. The seamless flow of data from device to the edge and to the cloud creates the digital thread.

“Humans need to interact, so we need to protect them and increase the productivity of the equipment. As we expand our portfolio, it’s enabled with GuardLink.” 

GuardLink is a safety linking technology that provides safety and real-time diagnostic information for safety-related control systems, where traditionally, safety input devices have been connected in series.

Power-control products, such as PowerFlex 755T, contain smart technology for predictive maintenance analytics, which integrates with Fiix maintenance management software to generate work orders. And Armor PowerFlex variable-frequency drives for automotive and material-handling applications offer an on-machine solution to reduce cabinet space.

For motion control, Kinetix 5100 and Kinetix 5300 servo drives are designed to expand down in power range. “Our customers are creating systems with higher speeds and multiple products on one line,” said Wlodarczyk. “We’re able to provide independent control in one Logix controller. Integrated control simplifies architecture for machine builders, reducing cost.”

Get the best of Automation Fair 2021

The editors of Control, Control Design and Smart Industry are reporting live from Automation Fair. When the event comes to a close, the editors will compile a report of the best, most important coverage from the event. Register now to pre-order the report and be among the first to receive it in your inbox. Pre-order your copy now.

Sponsored Recommendations

2024 Industry Trends | Oil & Gas

We sit down with our Industry Marketing Manager, Mark Thomas to find out what is trending in Oil & Gas in 2024. Not only that, but we discuss how Endress+Hau...

Level Measurement in Water and Waste Water Lift Stations

Condensation, build up, obstructions and silt can cause difficulties in making reliable level measurements in lift station wet wells. New trends in low cost radar units solve ...

Temperature Transmitters | The Perfect Fit for Your Measuring Point

Our video introduces you to the three most important selection criteria to help you choose the right temperature transmitter for your application. We also ta...

2024 Industry Trends | Gas & LNG

We sit down with our Industry Marketing Manager, Cesar Martinez, to find out what is trending in Gas & LNG in 2024. Not only that, but we discuss how Endress...