1660244520461 Autofair2017

Run analytics where they make most sense

Nov. 16, 2017
Data often doesn’t have to go to the cloud for context and usefulness

“You don’t want to always send your data up to the cloud and back.” Rockwell Automation’s Paula Puess explained the scalability of the company’s smart manufacturing solutions at Automation Fair this week in Houston.

Information is power. Everyone wants to be smart. And in the context of manufacturing, more information means that smarter end users and OEMs can assure equipment reliability and optimize production. Machinery generates data and lots of it. But that data means nothing without the analytics to turn it into useful information to make manufacturing smarter and more profitable.

Sometimes the analytics need to take place locally at the edge, where the data is generated and the actuation occurs. Other times, they’re better suited to the cloud where data from multiple sources can be fused for analysis. Scaling that ability is an important focus of Rockwell Automation, and it was showcased in The Connected Enterprise booth at the Automation Fair event this week in Houston.

“It’s simplicity,” explained Paula Puess, global market development manager, information solutions, at Rockwell Automation. “I like the effort we’re putting into simplifying the act of analytics for our customers. We’re making data easier to ingest by putting in tools that automatically orchestrate. We’re putting that data together through fusion tools.”

Data comes from everywhere, Puess said. “It can be data from the control environment, MES, ERP or lab system,” she explained. “That is the beauty of the system. We have tools that go out and inventory Rockwell Automation equipment, if your data is coming from a network source. But it could be coming from a spreadsheet. It could be structured or unstructured data.”

Scalability is the next big thing, said Puess. “We’ve built applications at the device level,” she explained. “You don’t want to always send your data up to the cloud and back. Anyone can put in data connectors that will go and get data and add it to a larger data set.”

In addition to device- and cloud-level analytics, Rockwell Automation has scalable computing options that fall at a number of points in between. “We’re putting things in the rack,” said Puess. “We’re creating gateways at all different levels and making those gateways smart. They transport and transact the data through enterprise gateways, which are smart gateways that give the data context without human intervention, without remapping.”

The Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Platform, Project Scio, for example, ingests data from a range of data sources, bringing it into an orchestration layer where it can start to see commonalities among data sets.

“The orchestration layer allows me to fuse these data sets together,” explained Puess. “One might be labor, and one might be production on a given line. I can bring these data sets together in one click, and Scio will automatically create a set of dashboards, which we call storyboards, sort of like Excel will recommend a chart style for you.” The Scio platform also has persona-based security, so access can be granted to, say, the operations group, rather than a specific person.

Get connected

The Rockwell Automation connected offering also includes FactoryTalk Analytics for Machines. “This solution takes machine data including health and diagnostics through a gateway to our FactoryTalk cloud and back to the OEM,” explained Puess. “The OEM can start to see performance trends across machines. This also gives the end user a way to specify smart machines connected to our cloud, which secures the data.”

End users, too, can choose to have their machines monitored by FactoryTalk Analytics for Machines. “The end user doesn’t have to worry about every machine coming in with a different cloud application,” said Puess. “We move them into a services model and create the infrastructure. The analytics are purpose-driven.”

Rockwell Automation also has introduced a new consulting group to help customers to develop their analytics goals. “They’re doing modernization and other efforts,” said Puess. “A lot of our customers don’t know where to start.” And with Rockwell Automation’s connected services offering, end users and OEMs “can be as involved with their analytic solution as they want to be.”

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