Update: One error of typing noted in the second paragraph–my brain was thinking GreenPrint, but my fingers went their own way.
One speaker noted it was the largest Rockwell Automation Process Solutions Users Group (PSUG) ever, which I later confirmed at 640 registered attendees. While one might thing that everyone would come from consumer packaged goods (CPG) or perhaps pharmaceutical companies, I saw name tags from oil & gas and pulp & paper companies. Another indication of the seriousness of Rockwell’s growth in this industry segment.
The first announcement of PSUG was that Ken Deken, vice president of product portfolio and the executive charged with developing the process business, is retiring. Ralph Carter who has been heading the information software group since joining Rockwell with the acquisition of Pavilion two years ago will assume responsibility for heading the process automation business along with his software duties.
John Nesi, vice president of market development, presented Rockwell’s position on Plant-wide Optimization–sure to be one of this week’s themes. Nesi first told the group that Rockwell has been investing in four specific areas–process, software, safety and solutions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Plant wide optimizations includes integrated technologies and solutions designed to gather information and deliver it to appropriate systems and people. He addressed key points of challenge for attendees that included globalization, sustainability, productivity and innovation. Specifically he linked sustainability and productivity into Sustainable Production and a new service from Rockwell–Industrial Greenpoint, a patented service designed to help customers achieve their sustainability goals.
ARC Advisory Group Research Director Larry O’Brien presented attendees with several challenges his research has uncovered in the process industries. These are people (recruitment, training), safety (building a safety culture), plant-wide optimization (information), installed base (migrating to modern control), operations and COTS.
Som Chakraborti, Process Business director, presented an overview of the process business and a technology roadmap of where the company has come from over the past five to six years. There is no doubt that the company has progressed a long way in the process business on its way to becoming a serious competitor in the market. He also announced new products including Release 2.0 of PlanPAx, Rockwell’s distributed control system solution. New features include high availability, greater device integration and asset management, design productivity, batch and sequencing control advances and operations productivity.
Some of the new features include:
  • System High Availability — New capabilities include EtherNet/IP network support for redundant systems and Device Level Ring network topology that provides a highly available EtherNet/IP network without any additional infrastructure costs. A new I/O line — based on ICS Triplex technology — adds redundant I/O capability for the system. PlantPAx System Release 2.0 also includes new diagnostics and error checking to help operators and maintenance personnel identify and resolve the root cause of a problem before disrupting production.
  • Device Integration and Asset Management — The PlantPAx system already had connectivity options, including Hart, Profibus-PA, and Fieldbus Foundation. PlantPAx System Release 2.0 expands on these offerings adding the integration and asset management of other devices in the system, such as intelligent motor control centers, variable frequency drives, condition monitoring and power control components.
  • Design Productivity — Evaluation of the typical DCS configuration workflows has revealed a number of steps that can be simplified or accelerated. This includes initial sizing and architecture design, the creation of reusable engineering and template objects, and engineering and deployment tools for objects and diagnostics in the PlantPAx library.
  • Batch and Sequencing Control — New batch server software adds capabilities such as intelligent recipes, improved runtime user control, expanded data collection and reporting, and enhanced material management.
  • Operations Productivity — The PlantPAx approach to operations productivity is a three-tiered solution. At the most basic level, the Rockwell Automation historian collects key process data from within the controller chassis or via a server at the site level. Data is then analyzed in an information and decision support portal. This portal provides appropriate information about the production system based on user role. Then, as the third tier, PlantPAx System Release 2.0 offers optimization solutions. This optimization leverages advanced control techniques for single loops or unit operations or more advanced model predictive solutions for an entire line or plant area.
PlantPAx System Release 2.0 is available in the first quarter of 2011.
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