PlantPAx: the Second Incarnation

Nov. 4, 2010
Ready Integration of OEM Skids and Machines Are Among Highlights of 2.0 Release.

PlantPAx version 2.0 was introduced at Rockwell Automation's Automation Fair in Orlando, this week. According to Som Chakraborti, director, process automation business for Rockwell Automation, PlantPAx version 2.0 was specifically designed to improve the capability, robustness and flexibility of the PlantPAx process automation system across several significant dimensions. "These are the important new features of the PlantPAx system," Chakraborti said.

"We've enhanced our already extensive batch portfolio, and we have provided significant support for simplified control system implementation for skids and the OEMs who produce them," Chakraborti said.

"This is real important because our very large OEM base has been asking us to produce something with only those features they need, yet that can be integrated into the PlantPAx system at the end user's facility," said Steve Pulsifer, director of market development—process for Rockwell Automation.

"It gives the OEMs what they need and never more than what they want." Rockwell Automation's Som Chakraborti on the extension of the PlantPAx architecture to support smaller process applications that the end user can easily integrate into an overall plant architecture.

Chakraborti went on, "We've also released a high-availability DCS architecture that is easy to configure and engineer. When you look at the redundant controller or Ethernet port in the engineering workstation, you don't see two of everything. You see one controller, one port—with the notation that the hardware is redundant. We've extended the concept of redundant I/O into the standard Logix platform too. This is leveraging our Triplex products into our standard regulatory control offering."

Pulsifer noted that the new generation of PlantPAx is designed to increase engineering efficiency with advanced object libraries, Model Builder and VantagePoint visualization tools. "Using pre-built automation objects and templates make it easy to produce quick, consistent process control system delivery. For our integrator partners, this improves project margin, and for our customers, it improves overall customer satisfaction."

"We can now deliver a solution that OEMs can provide to their clients without requiring unnecessary investment in products or technologies, and which are fully compliant with their installed systems," Pulsifer continued. "We've produced a large set of design tools to speed time to market in this OEM focus. Pre-designed and pre-tested architectures make sure that the end deliverable is fully supportable by the OEM, and with performance in line with their clients' expectations."

Chakraborti said, "What we've done is we've taken the discipline around PlantPAx and applied it as a coherent philosophy to a lower, simpler platform than our standard ControlLogix. This gives the OEMs what they need and never more than what they want."

"We have improved our integration of Endress+Hauser device connectivity, too," Pulsifer added, "and the combination produces a skid automation solution that we believe is unrivaled."

Chakraborti noted that PlantPAx is built on the FactoryTalk services platform and is part of the Integrated Architecture that provides connectivity for the rest of the plant. It also provides live data feeds and alarm management to the system. The high-availability alarm management system is completely distributed throughout the Integrated Architecture, rather than residing in a single database. "What this means is that the alarm management system is much more robust than other implementations, and should the customer lose a server, the most that would be out of commission is perhaps one tank or mixer."

"Really," Chakraborti said, "we have challenged our customers to remember what the ‘D' in DCS means. Our control system is truly distributed. We don't, for example, have a single large database. We have, instead, smaller, distributed databases that are completely compatible. This additional level of robustness is a significant benefit of PlantPAx 2.0. In a way, we are mimicking cloud computing with this distributed database architecture."

Pulsifer added, "What we are doing is providing a structure for ongoing optimization. Optimization should never end. It needs to be integrated into the culture, as well as being part of the automation system."

Chakraborti concluded, "We think PlantPAx is the equal of any other DCS in the world, and we frankly feel that we've gotten ahead of some of our competitors."