Integrated Architecture Is Platform for Manufacturing Convergence

Nov. 19, 2008
The Convergence of Control and Information

Rockwell Automation’s Integrated Architecture leverages one multidisciplinary control engine, one development environment, one common networking protocol and one service-oriented architecture for integrated plant-wide control. “It is the convergence of control and information,” said Steve Ludwig, commercial programs manager, automation control and information group, for Rockwell Automation.

“The Logix platform and Integrated Architecture serves end users and OEMs,” Ludwig explained. “If you’re an end user, you’re probably more focused on IT convergence. If you’re an OEM, you’re going to focus on control discipline convergence.”

In a tour of the Integrated Architecture booth on the Automation Fair exhibit floor, Ludwig pointed out some of Rockwell Automation’s newest contributions to manufacturing convergence.

“We’re producing new ‘ease of use’ tools and products to make implementation of the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture core systems even easier.” Rockwell’s Automation’s Steve Ludwig explained how the company’s platform offering is helping its customers to more easily capitalize on Manufacturing Convergence.

“We’re producing new ‘ease of use’ tools and products to make implementation of the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture core systems even easier,” Ludwig said.

Some of these include the Dynamix and Safety Accelerator toolkits, new network Reference Architectures, Process System Characterization and migration enablers for legacy competitor systems. These tools were modeled after the highly successful Kinetix Accelerator toolkit for motion control applications and help users understand, plan and configure their systems.

“In addition, we’ve produced usability tools like our standard reference architecture for industrial networks, which we developed with our partner Cisco Systems,” he said.

On the product side, Rockwell Automation is introducing new Panel PCs in high and standard performance configurations, as well as a higher memory-availability Logix5565. The new L635 Safety Controller comes with a built-in metal forming instruction set, with applicability for food and beverages. “It makes forming cans easier,” Ludwig said.

Another featured product is the Logix XT line of controllers, with availability in April 2009. The XT stands for extreme temperature, and the active controller components are separated on the backplane by passive vented faceplate segments that enable operation from -20 °C to +70 °C. “The XT is designed specifically for rugged environments like process plants and offshore rigs,” Ludwig said.

“Mobility is a significant aspect of convergence,” Ludwig added, “especially since operators often need to be outside the control room. FactoryTalk View SE and FactoryTalk ViewPoint are cases in point. FactoryTalk ViewPoint’s first version is read-only for monitoring only,” he said. “It runs on tablet PCs like the cool new Panasonic CF-U1 and others,” he said, “and next year we expect to be able to make ViewPoint bidirectional.”

Integrated Architecture means that robotics and motion control applications and process control applications can all be done on the same platform with common development tools and common training. “We’ve introduced some new Logix devices to compliment our mechatronics toolkit,” Ludwig said. “For example, our L4 CompactLogix controller has integrated motion control solutions built in. This aids OEMs immeasurably.”

“Integrated Architecture means increased throughput, ease of design and energy efficiency,” Ludwig said. “Our PowerFlex motor controls are designed for integration with our Logix platform, and they can reduce energy usage considerably. Rightsizing machines and using direct drive electric motors instead of pneumatics can save as much as 23% over conventional designs,” he concluded.

“Integrated Architecture, because it has a common set of tools, helps handle the global employee shortage. Users can train on one system, maintain one system, handle a single knowledge base and lower their MRO cost, all at the same time.”