Rockwell Automation Streamlines Plant-Wide Integration

Nov. 3, 2010
A Range of Rockwell Automation Tools Is Making Integration and Visualization of Plant-Floor Data and Business Information Easier than Ever

The key to Smart Manufacturing, said UCLA chemistry professor and CIO Jim Davis, in his keynote speech at Rockwell Automation's Manufacturing Perspectives event, is integrating the information flows from the plant floor to the enterprise.

That's the direction Rockwell Automation is taking with its information software strategy. Building on the products it has acquired from Pavilion, Incuity, Interwave and other acquisitions, Rockwell Automation is defining an Integrated Plant Information System to complement and complete its integrated plant control system.

Mike Pantaleano, Rockwell Automation regional manager, information software, points to the company's historian architecture. Because of the FactoryTalk services platform, the historian and the alarm manager can reside in the controller chassis or in the control layer above the controllers. The fact that the historian can live in the controller means that it can serve as a "process flight data recorder," Pantaleano said. "And by using an object model and templates, we can provide our integrators with very strong toolsets to do things like display visualization."

Pantaleano introduced Fred Bossard, CEO of Aurora Industrial Automation, who showed the visualization systems he's building for his customers, including breweries. "We're doing a project for Full Sail Brewing Company right now to provide deep visibility into their processes. We're using ViewPoint and VantagePoint to produce web-based visualization screens that they can access on any PC or any HMI. Here, take a look at this iPhone screen," he said.

"Take a look at this iPhone screen." Fred Bossard of Aurora Industrial Automation, demonstrated the broad range of web-based visualization applications his company has developed using Rockwell Automation tools.Pantaleano showcased Rockwell Automation applications for a variety of business systems created from a large set of tools that Rockwell Automation has assembled. From the toolset acquired from the Incuity acquisition, dashboards are easily created for OEE, uptime, KPIs and many more business variables.

One of the keys to the robustness of the software is the process data model. "We've been able to model many processes from many industry verticals, and all the user has to do is run the model. And using User Defined Types and other tools from the PackML standard, the information layer automatically picks up data from the controller I/O and historian," Pantaleano said.

Customers don't have the time or the inclination, and sometimes don't have the ability to write custom reports from the process information system. Rockwell Automation's "Metrics" product provides over 50 pre-packaged report templates for many different types of report in many different industrial verticals.

"The important thing about using the common data model the way we do," Pantaleano said, "is that when you change stuff on the plant floor, the information model doesn't break. This is a very important feature—increased robustness of the information connectors."

Don Hart, vice president of marketing for Rockwell Automation's Pavilion subsidiary, talked about the importance of model-predictive control (MPC) in the Rockwell Automation integrated Information Software program. "The feedback we're getting from our customers is that having a high-powered MPC component is critical to achieving the optimization results they need to become more productive and create more value."

Hart and Ric Snyder, a senior product manager at Rockwell Automation, made the point that the PlantPAx model builder is based on the Pavilion technology. "This means that we can take live data into Pavilion," Snyder said, "and we get that live data straight from the Logix platform, and we can serve that live data to any part of the PlantPAx information system. Plus, it works faster than OPC because we are using Pavilion's native connectors. And," he went on, "we can do that from a variety of competitive control systems as well."

Hart noted that Pavilion is working toward running full MPC with optimization in the controller. "Running computational MPC at 100 millseconds or faster opens up some applications that MPC was thought to be too slow to handle," Hart said.

Mike Gay, Rockwell Automation's industry segment lead for the consumer packaged goods market, noted that the tiered historian, the Pavilion data solutions and the high availability hardware and firmware that PlantPAx has introduced "allow us to create applications that solve real business problems, instead of creating products for our integrators and customers to find ways to apply."