The promises of today's virtual clouds and IT-linked businesses may sometimes seem a little hazy and insubstantial, but the next-generation, high-performance Integrated Architecture and components from Rockwell Automation bring these concepts down to earth and into focus to deliver big gains on the plant floor.
"This physical foundation is connecting everything from smart machines to real-time data and analytics, visualizing applications and production line performance, and enabling users to make increasingly better decisions for greater efficiency and profitability," said John Pritchard, global market development manager for Integrated Architecture at Rockwell Automation.
Pritchard and a small army of colleagues presented the "Building the Architecture for the Connected Enterprise" at the Integrated Architecture exhibit on the opening day of Automation Fair 2015 this week at McCormick Place in Chicago.
One exhibit centerpiece using Integrated Architecture was the CL175 continuous cartoning machine from Cama USA Inc. Pritchard reported the machine is the result of a multiyear partnership between Cama and Rockwell Automation.
"Our new, high-performance Integrated Architecture is where The Connected Enterprise gets jobs done." John Pritchard, global market development manager for Integrated Architecture demonstrated its benefits during an exhibit tour at Rockwell Automation Fair 2015 on Nov.18.
As a result, CL175 employs new iTrak intelligent track and transport system from Rockwell Automation that has mover units on the track that can be independently controlled for greater efficiency.
"Changing box sizes on cartoners traditionally requires lots of manual adjustments and hours of time, but size changeovers with CL175 are instantly done via menus and software, which saves users huge amounts of time," said Pritchard. "At the same time, this machine takes up half the footprint of former versions, which adds to its overall lifecycle savings."
CL175 uses a variety of Rockwell Automation components and solutions, including Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5500 servo drives with advanced safety functions, as well as pneumatics from Festo. The machine's iTrak system is controlled by an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix controller, and it communicates via EtherNet/IP protocol.
"Integrated Architecture uses all-EtherNet/IP networking to link I/O, controllers, HMIs, motors, motor controllers and other devices. This architecture is where The Connected Enterprise gets jobs done, manufactures products, maintains uptime and improves overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)," said Pritchard. "We and Cisco also developed reference architectures for applying EtherNet/IP, segmenting and securing networks, and helping engineers and plants managers organize their networks.”
New architecture cornerstones
To help other control and automation developers and users achieve similar performance gains, Pritchard added that Rockwell Automation is launching several new products to support its high-performance Integrated Architecture. These solutions are headlined by the new ControlLogix 5580 controller family, which features multicore microprocessors, combined Ethernet cards and processors, and 1-Gbps, front-mounted Ethernet ports.
"At this show, and using the same demo code, ControlLogix 5580's multicore processor lets it perform math instructions in structured text 20 times faster than the prior, one-core version," explained Pritchard. "So tasks like motion control that used to be very tough are much easier now. For example, where the former version could run 35 axes in a 1-millisecond (msec) scan time, ControlLogix 5580 can run 125 axes in a 1-msec scantime, which is a 350% improvement. This can be very useful as more production lines, robots and other devices need to be coordinated at high speeds on increasingly integrated production lines and equipment enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT)."
The second major Integrated Architecture product launched at the exhibit is the high-performance Allen-Bradley 5069 Compact I/O, which achieves a screw-to-screw (STS) time of about 0.28 msec, where its predecessor had a 5 msec STS time. Pritchard reported that STS is the time from when an input signal is received to when it’s written as an output by a controller.
"Going from 5 msec to 0.28 msec adds up to 12-13 times better performance, which can be a big help to high-speed rejection stations and other applications that need to make rapid decisions," added Pritchard.
Finally, the third big Integrated Architecture release is the new Allen-Bradley Stratix 5400 1-Gbps Ethernet switch, which supports ControlLogix 5580 and 5069 Compact I/O.
"All three of these products are tangible examples of Rockwell Automation's new, high-performance Integrated Architecture," said Pritchard. "This is where the rubber of The Connected Enterprise really meets the road."
Sleek HMIs and screen development
To help developers, integrators and users visualize all the increased performance gains they're getting from the high-performance Integrated Architecture, Princhard added that Rockwell Automation is also launching two new families if HMIs—PanelView 5000 graphic terminals with a new graphics engine that supports scalable-vector graphics, and PanelView Plus 7 graphic terminals with the same graphics engine as PanelView 6 graphic terminals to help smooth integration on upgrade projects.
"PanelView has new physical hardware with a low-profile appearance that includes a metal bezel frame, radiused corners and gray, metallic, powder-coated finish," said Pritchard.
To give its on-screen displays equal punch, Rockwell Automation has added three new applications to its Rockwell Software Studio 5000 development environment to help engineers speed development of automation systems as they design connected enterprises.
These applications include Studio 5000 View Designer for building HMI screens; Studio 5000 Application Code Manager for managing and reusing libraries of code; and Studio 5000 Architect, which is an environment where users can create topographic representations of their I/O, controls, racks and other devices; set up specifications and parts allocations; assign controller inputs and outputs; and perform many other design tasks.
"The design experience with Studio 5000 is much better because its whole library of smart objects make it easier to design applications and assign tags, and do it with less manual effort than before," added Pritchard. "Users can also use Studio 5000 to collaborate on control design projects, and then compare and merge changes. Most importantly, it also has a bulk engineering and library management capability that, for example, lets users create the controls for one tank, automatically generate instances for 10 other tanks, and assign the appropriate I/O for them in the right sequences. This also means a lot less manual effort for users."