Industrial Ethernet / Distributed Control

Modern DCS powers Connected Enterprise

By Jim Montague, executive editor, Control

Dec 09, 2015

It's good to follow up and keep promises, and that's just what Rockwell Automation did at its Automation Fair 2015 and two earlier events in November at McCormick Place in Chicago.

More than 15,000 visitors attended 90 technical sessions, 19 hands-on labs and eight industry-focused forums, where they learned how Rockwell Automation and its partners and end users are turning its vision of the Connected Enterprise into specific plans and examples of tying manufacturing systems closer together than ever before with digital, Internet protocol (IP) and industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies for vastly improved efficiency, decision-making and profitability.

Connected keynote

"This year, our focus is on implementation," says Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation, who opened the Automation Perspectives media event on Nov. 17. "The Connected Enterprise is the digital enterprise, and it includes a high-performance architecture for integrated control and information."

Three core platforms—Integrated Architecture, Intelligent Motor Control, and Solutions and Services—are designed to deliver the smart, connected and secure Connected Enterprise. The need to converge IT and operations technology (OT)—the business network of orders, supplies and design with the plant-floor network of real-time data, control and safety—via Ethernet is also central to achieving the Connected Enterprise.

Beyond gaining intelligence from microprocessors and networking, Nosbusch explains that smart assets must also become self-aware by utilizing self-diagnostics and calculating energy, and become system-aware by integrating safety and security. "Our new Kinetix 5700 servo drive is self-tuning, which reduces scrap and improves energy efficiency. This is self-aware," says Nosbusch. "A system-aware example is our work with Fanuc, which ensures  automated work cell safety. Self-aware and system-aware assets, when combined with the network, make the Connected Enterprise a reality."

PlantPAx = modern DCS

Likewise, Rockwell Automation's PlantPAx DCS is based on open communication standards, breaking the mold of the conventional, closed DCS. "It's scalable, and it's information-enabled with IT-OT integration," adds Nosbusch.

For example, Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Ore., wanted to increase productivity without compromising quality. "We deployed PlantPAx with FactoryTalk Historian, VantagePoint and Logix Batch and Sequence Manager," says Nosbusch. "We cut brew cycle times in half and raw material costs by 5%, and increased brewing capacity by 25%." Among its other successful applications presented during Automation Fair 2015, PlantPAx recently:

  • Streamlined control engineering and instrumentation of more than 60,000 tags and 6,000 alarms at Metro Wastewater Recamation District near Denver, and enabled operators to use mobile interfaces to their virtual PlantPAx application.
  • Helped GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)unify its environmental and building management systems in Zebulon, N.C., which must maintain precise temperature and humidity control to ensure product integrity, and completed the upgrade without hindering production.
  • Managed viscosity, pH and temperature of raw materials in a tightly controlled butyronile process, which is part of five production lines that make nitrile-based gloves at Shandong Intco Medical in Shanghai, and is helping to expand those lines.

Served as the basic process control system for 4,100 I/O and another 840 I/O for the safety instrumented system (SIS) when El Dorado Chemical in south-central Arkansas moved an ammonia plant from Louisiana and made $600 million in site improvements.

Scheduled for release in March 2016, PlantPAx 4.0's improved engineering productivity will use an updated design environment based on Rockwell Automation's Studio 5000 Version 24 software. It combines design and engineering elements into one standard framework, where users can develop all elements of their control system for operations and maintenance, and extend from individual controllers to be a system-wide development and design tool, according to Kris Dornan, PlantPAx characterization and integration manager at Rockwell Automation.

"A splash screen allows you to get your objects into the system quickly, in a single window—a single place where you can see controllers, HMIs and servers, and set them all up," says Dornan, who presented at Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) on Nov. 16.

PSUG promotes process

Overall, PSUG attracted about 900 attendees from 22 process industries, who attended 25 customer application sessions, 23 technical sessions and nine hands-on labs.

"We must embrace the convergence of IT and OT, and use the same network technology in the factory as at the enterprise level," says John Genovesi, vice president and general manager of the information software and process business at Rockwell Automation. "We want Ethernet for peer-to-peer, supervisory and device-level communications, so we can get at the plant data, do our KPIs, and integrate the enterprise to the plant floor."

Genovesi adds these tasks can be handled with a modern, more capable DCS like PlantPAx, which is open and uses commercial technology that makes it easy to integrate third-party components from control through utility systems. "PlantPAx offers shortened development cycles, so you can upgrade portions of the system as needed instead of having to replace it all," he continues. "It's easy to integrate mobility and the cloud, and it's future-proof because it's easy to upgrade. Also, where security used to be provided by the closed system, we now need to apply modern technology for security at every level, using the best standards from IT."

For all the coverage from PSUG and Automation Fair 2015, go here.