This week in Philadelphia at Automation Fair, Rockwell Automation is showing its commitment to helping its customers make sense of industrial data. The company’s recent partnership with PTC, for example, is only accelerating the automation company’s foray into the heart of The Connected Enterprise, spawning analytics dashboards that draw insights from many disparate data sources that talk a range of different languages.
Indeed, the scalable power represented by the company’s FactoryTalk Analytics solution enables manufacturers to meet the dynamic demands of the marketplace, such as increasingly customized consumer products.
“Not only do manufacturers have to be really on top of quality and compliance, they have to manage greater variety,” explained Paula Puess, global market development manager, information solutions, at Rockwell Automation. “It’s not just how much they can make, but how many different kinds they can make.”
Batch-size-one manufacturing becomes easier in a digital environment. “Align Technology, for example, use our MES platform and digital printing to make dental braces,” said Puess. “They’re able to batch-size-one yet be compliant because they’ve digitally transformed their operations.”
Powered by PTC’s industrial software, FactoryTalk InnovationSuite opens new digital possibilities that manufacturers can tap. “A majority of plants are still running aging equipment that might not have a network connection,” explained Puess. “We can now put sensors on that equipment and still get data.”
Rapid, purpose built IIoT application development
The PTC partnership, in particular, delivers a range of new connectivity options, Puess added. “We can rapidly connect users to data and information from plant floor equipment and systems. We can understand the performance of those assets through one consolidated source. Two different systems–say, one from Rockwell Automation and one from a third party—can be normalized on the platform. This data is displayed through applications that look the same.”
And once data from disparate sources is gathered into one platform, FactoryTalk Analytics can deliver unified insights to any variety of applications. “Purpose-built applications for users are all about making the operators’ and the users’ lives easier,” said Puess. “It’s focusing on the person using the application—the form factor matters. Maybe it’s in a headset or on an HMI or watch. Let’s make it easier for the user.”
Application development is very intuitive on the platform, explained Puess. “It doesn’t take tons of data scientists,” she said.
One of the important new capabilities is augmented reality. “It’s a digital representation of a physical asset,” explained Puess. “I have a machine and I have a full digital representation. Some of the most common applications now are predictive maintenance and real-time performance monitoring for things like OEE and energy.”
Another exciting new change for the analytics offering is the decision to begin selling it as a subscription model. “It comes with a customer success manager, so there’s also the technical support,” explained Puess. “The customer success manager meets with a customer every three months. We want to be sure they’re getting the most out of it. We’ll onboard the customer and be involved in the development process,” Puess said. “The customer success manager will always be by their side.”