Photo by Keith Larson
“The system can contain up to three banks and have 24 modules in a bank, giving 192 I/O points for simplex or 96 I/O points for duplex.” Rockwell Automation’s Armand Prezioso demonstrated the new FLEXHA 5000 configurable I/O platform at Automation Fair in Chicago.

Rockwell releases high-availability, software-configurable I/O

Nov. 16, 2022
Company began taking orders for its new FLEXHA 5000 I/O platform this week

Rockwell Automation began taking orders for its new I/O platform, the FLEXHA 5000, at Automation Fair 2022 this week in Chicago. Demonstration of the new product was arguably the most popular booth in the exhibition hall, where Armand Prezioso, product manager at Rockwell Automation, introduced and explained the family of high-availability I/O—the HA literally stands for high-availability, or five-nines-availability, meaning 99.999%. FLEXHA 5000 will begin shipping in 2023.

Customers in the process industries will see more flexibility and reliability, enabling integrated control for their Connected Enterprise production systems, while decreasing total cost of ownership and enhancing productivity through reduced downtime and time to engineer with access to additional process diagnostics via HART Premier Integration in Studio 5000 Logix Designer software. “We’ve leveraged input from the Process Customer Advisory Board,” explained Dan DeYoung, vice president, product management, Rockwell Automation.

The I/O platform is designed to reduce hardware complexity and cost by using a more conveniently integrated design, and the modules enhance communication with 1 Gb EtherNet/IP network connectivity, offering higher speed and increased bandwidth. Reducing downtime and engineering time while limiting costs, this platform is designed to be a smarter, more efficient I/O solution.

“Process customers are looking for a modern, reliable and flexible I/O solution to satisfy their basic and process safety control needs, while reducing downtime, minimizing engineering and simplifying configuration and maintenance,” said DeYoung. “With the range of options this platform offers, customers can see more consistent operations, reduction in downtime and optimized footprints that maximize the return on their assets.”

Ready for process applications, the FLEXHA 5000 I/O platform helps customers achieve more efficient engineering time through tight integration with an instruction set in the PlantPAx system. Customers can gain support for ControlLogix 5580 controller redundancy in high-availability applications from Studio 5000 Logix Designer software, version 35 or later, and deliver more consistent operations with increased reliability.

The flexibility in design and maintenance of the FLEXHA 5000 I/O platform helps customers to optimize their footprint by enabling them to mount up to 24 I/O modules on a single node, vertically or horizontally, and in any module sequence. A reduction in downtime can also be achieved with simplified removal and insertion under power (RIUP) and easy online changes.

“The system can contain up to three banks and have 24 modules in a bank, giving 192 I/O points for simplex or 96 I/O points for duplex,” said Prezioso. “The PlantPAx System Estimator can be used to generate a bill of materials.”

The I/O modules operate at -40 to 70 °C (-40 to 158 °F) temperatures and in extreme environments up to GX rating with conformal coating. They can be used in hazardous areas under Class I, Div. 2, Zone 2, and groups A, B, C and D.

The FLEXHA 5000 I/O module is fully redundant, has built-in diagnostics, is available with smart junction boxes, has individual channel isolation, offers individual channel universal I/O, enables ease of wiring and is configurable for simplex or duplex operations. The FLEXHA 5000 I/O modules contain a universal-card option that allows for flexibility in I/O choice. Universal I/O simplifies field wiring, reduces spare module requirements and reduces maintenance time. This I/O choice is configurable per channel during runtime as HART-capable analog or discrete input or output. Modules can also be configured in simplex or duplex.

“The FLEXHA 5000 allows us to push into the process industries. It is fault-tolerant,” explained DeYoung. “Everything is duplicated. That stretch from the I/O module to the controller represents the last mile of data transport. We’ve enhanced our network, and FLEXHA 5000 is integrated into PlantPAx 5.2, extending its proposition as a modern DCS.”

In the future, the FLEXHA 5000 I/O platform will allow for integrated safety I/O and base process control I/O to be conveniently mounted in the same rack, which reduces hardware complexity and cost of the PlantPAx system. 

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