Cloud suite to unify manufacturing apps

July 14, 2021

“Almost every aspect of your life involves cloud in some form or fashion,” began Anoop Mohan, managing director of cloud services at Rockwell Automation. His implied question was clear: So why should manufacturing be any different?

During the ROKLive 2021 virtual conference, Mohan led a preview session for the new FactoryTalk Hub, a Rockwell Automation product suite designed to enable industrial customers across the industrial lifecycle with cloud-enabled software-as-a-services (SaaS) products driven by simplicity as the top objective.

From Microsoft Office and Adobe to your payroll system, a lot of your activities at work are already connected to the cloud, noted Mohan. According to Forbes, 92% of companies say they rely on the cloud. “And when it comes to why, there are different reasons our enterprises embrace the cloud. It’s about streamlining operations, agility, scalablity, innovation and reduced costs. In many cases, it’s building a new product. A lot of companies go to the cloud based on their individual needs.”

In the past five years, it’s primarily IT functions that have migrated to the cloud. But in the next five years, operational technology (OT) organizations will be migrating faster than IT, predicted Mohan. “A lot of our OT customers are seeing the benefits,” he said. “Cloud is what brings the IT and OT organizations together. Cloud is the unifying technology for IT-OT convergence. Cloud is going to make all organizations be IT-managed but OT-operated.”

Portfolio to expand over time

FactoryTalk Hub is a portfolio of cloud-based applications that will span Design, Operations and Maintenance capabilities. The Design Hub, including Design Tools and Vault capabilities, is available now. Operations Hub, including Remote Access, will be available next quarter. And Maintenance Hub, based on software from recent acquisition Fiix, will be added soon. “FactoryTalk Design Hub improves design productivity and collaboration with cloud-enabled tools that give context to operations,” said Mohan. “Operations Hub makes it easy to get data and manage physical assets with cloud-enabled visualization, analytics and connectivity.” 

“The FactoryTalk Hub product suite is built on Microsoft Azure,” explained Mohan. “It connects OEMs and end users across the industrial lifecycle, with one digital thread giving context across it all. And the applications all come together as one product suite.”

“FactoryTalk Vault is live and available today,” said Mohan. “It offers secure industrial file storage for your automation needs. A lot of customers are using our design products. Now we have a cloud-based destination where you can design and collaborate. It’s a secure place where you can upload your design files.”

“You can also manage file type conversions,” added Mohan. “We make it easy for you to embrace our next-generation design software.”

“But we don’t stop there,” said Mohan. “We’re continuing to add on-demand design and emulation capabilities. What that really means is you should be able to open Studio 5000 in a completely simulated environment with no more trying to figure out what laptop configuration you need. Pre-configured virtual machine images should be in the cloud for different use cases. In addition to Studio 5000, Logix Echo and Emulate3D will be available.” 

On-demand design and emulation capabilities will be previewed at November’s Automation Fair in Houston. “We’re working on a lot of products,” Mohan concluded, “and we want to make access to them easy and simple.”

Mohan’s full ROKLive presentation, entitled “FactoryTalk Hub: Cloud Products for Next Generation Industrial World,” remains available on demand through October 2021.

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