FactoryTalk Editions Reach Out and Coordinate Data Treasure

Nov. 11, 2009
Rockwell Automation Describes Two New FactoryTalk Applications: Historian ME (Machine Edition) and VantagePoint EMI (Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence).

All the data in the world isn't worth spit until you can find it, secure it and coordinate it to make useful decisions.

However, most control and automation users typically have many data values they can't reach fast enough, humongous piles of unorganized information and numerous applications and facilities that can't easily share and compare data between them.

To help lead users out of this wilderness, Rockwell Automation has launched new editions of its FactoryTalk Historian and FactoryTalk VantagePoint software that greatly enhance their existing capabilities and allow users to quickly find and gather the gems in their data, and then coordinate information sources between applications, sites and systems to enable far better decision making.

Rockwell Automation released its FactoryTalk Historian Machine Edition (ME) machine-level data historian and FactoryTalk VantagePoint Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) business intelligence software for manufacturing at Automation Fair 2009 this week in Anaheim, Calif.

"FactoryTalk Historian ME is ported to run in a module on a Logix controller's backplane," said Keith McPherson, Rockwell Software market development director. "And getting the historian as close as you can get to where the data is generated allows far higher-speed data access, including scan rates down to 10 to 25 milliseconds. This is especially useful for pharmaceutical and food and beverage users and other regulated applications and customers that must thoroughly document all of their operations."

To help users reduce the risk of machine downtime and reach continuous process improvement goals, FactoryTalk Historian ME runs on an embedded, solid-state module hardened for on-machine data collection, which features a limited software footprint, no moving parts and reduces risk of data loss due to network or other system interruptions. Despite the machine-focused orientation that its name might imply, FactoryTalk Historian ME can access data, not just from individual machines, but also from whole applications and entire facility sites. Also, McPherson added that FactoryTalk Historian ME also can work in conjunction with Rockwell Automation's Plant PAx process data automation system. 

"Users typically connect their data servers up to their plant historians, but this is 10 times slower than what we can do with FactoryTalk Historian ME," explained Jan Pingel, FactoryTalk Historian product manager.     

"In today's global economy, visibility to manufacturing data is critical at all levels of operations." Rockwell Automation's Jan Pingel described two new FactoryTalk applications: Historian ME (Machine Edition), which runs directly on the Logix backplane, and VantagePoint EMI (Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence), which facilitates the integration and visualization of enterprise–level information together with plant–floor data sources.

In addition, FactoryTalk Historian ME helps manufacturers transform manufacturing intelligence into process improvements by leveraging reliable, real-time production data to improve product quality, speed time to market, and support regulatory compliance.

Rockwell Automation designed the application as part of a distributed, tiered architecture that allows users in different locations and at different operating levels to view and analyze role-appropriate historical data. For example, operators can view data from the specific machine they're using, while plant-level supervisors can view individual machines or complete lines to build real-time comparisons against standards and assess critical batch or process performance. Meanwhile, senior management can use the same technology to develop executive dashboards that compare key performance indicators (KPIs) of production activity across multiple locations.

In short, everyone can draw whatever type of information they need—and now they all draw it from the same well.

"In today's global economy, visibility to manufacturing data is critical at all levels of operations," said Pingel. "FactoryTalk Historian ME software improves manufacturing intelligence by providing a new level of visibility into production operations. By integrating data from a machine-level historian with data from a plant-level historian, operations can now locate and correct sources of inefficiencies more quickly to improve manufacturing consistency, energy use and first-pass quality."

Its stand-alone design also makes FactoryTalk Historian ME's module ideal for remote data capture in challenging environments, such as drilling rigs, wells and other previously inaccessible locations. The software helps reduce implementation time because it's directly installed in the Allen-Bradley ControlLogix backplane, then auto-detects the controllers and configures all relevant tags to be historized. The application also leverages backplane communication to increase the speed of data collection and provide more granular data than is possible on a traditional, network-connected plant historian.

Finally, FactoryTalk Historian ME allows machine builders to pre-qualify data collection on their machines to speed up on-site installation, configuration and validation efforts. Data-capture capabilities produce granular, historical data that helps provide effective sequence-of-events analysis, improving both product quality and customer satisfaction. For machine builders in highly regulated industries, the application provides continuous uptime and reliability to help meet government regulations.

Coordinating Multiple Data Sources

On the business intelligence side, Rockwell Automation launched its FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI software for manufacturing. FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI empowers users at every level of an enterprise with information from web-based dashboards, and reports on key performance indicators (KPIs) from multiple manufacturing and business data sources. Manufacturers can better monitor and manage productivity in real time and make more insightful decisions about business priorities, such as product quality, equipment utilization and global supply-chain management to help reduce costs.

"Basically, FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI is a reporting tool that connects to multiple data sources and then coordinates that data," said McPherson. "It's been said that FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI is a like a human-machine interface (HMI) for manufacturing enterprise systems. It allows users to step back and compare, for example, temperature in a tank to work shift information or specific batch parameters."

FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI software connects to multiple data sources—real-time, historical, relational and transactional—to create one resource that can access, aggregate and correlate information via a web browser. The new application is based on a unified production model (UPM) that provides a unified view of seemingly disparate manufacturing data and gives a context for relationships among equipment, product, materials and people. The UPM organizes various manufacturing and enterprise data using commonly referenced business terms, like "equipment," "batches" or "manufacturing lots."

Access to this information improves decision-making for the manufacturing environment – from inventory to maintenance, quality to production all the way through the enterprise, including the supply chain.

"Advances in IT have been a hidden gold mine for many manufacturers. Access to data is often not the issue," added McPherson. "FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI finds, assembles and distributes information critical for smart decision-making in an information-overloaded world."

The new business intelligence software allows users to report data via many tools, including Microsoft Excel, Trend and SAP Business Objects Dashboard Builder, and view it through FactoryTalk VantagePoint, Microsoft SharePoint and other portals.

FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI is the second application from Rockwell Automation to leverage technology it acquired from Incuity Software. The first edition, FactoryTalk VantagePoint, was announced in 2008. Both editions combine data produced by Rockwell Automation's Integrated Architecture system and other third-party production systems to provide a single access point for information that can help make better manufacturing decisions. With two versions now available, manufacturers can select the most appropriate feature set for their needs.

"FactoryTalk VantagePoint was initially focused on Rockwell Automation's real-time and historical data sources, while our new FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI adds the ability to connect to a much richer range of data sources," explained Ted Hill, Rockwell Software business development director. "We can now get to any business data, such as SAP, or transactional data, basically anything in a relational database, such as an SQL server. Essentially, FactoryTalk VantagePoint and FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI both layer a Unified Production Model on top of these data sources, and this allows all users to find the information that's most useful to them."

Also, FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI can be used to address single or multiple manufacturing problems on one manufacturing line or across a global enterprise. In addition, FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI can be used to address specific manufacturing needs, like downtime reporting, status tracking or multiple control-system reporting. The software also can be bundled with services to provide a complete solution to satisfy unique vertical market needs.