Wrapping up news from Rockwell Automation’s series of events Nov. 13 through 16. Several of us were reflecting on the Automation Fair show floor. A couple of things were noticeably downscaled. There was not a large display on machine control. In fact, one editor commented that it appeared that Rockwell was emphasizing process automation over factory (discrete) automation. I’m not sure I’d take it that far, but for sure if you were looking for packaging machinery applications and engineers, you had to dig hard.

Integrated Architecture is the keystone of the Optimized Plant strategy for Rockwell. The significant introduction this year expansion of what they call scalable control architecture into the mid-range of control. The company is well known for high-end controllers. It also manufactures a line of micro controllers. The expansion into mid-range will help it compete in the increasingly competitive machine builder market. Oh, I notice that Rockwell has returned to the “programmable automation controller” or PAC nomenclature. Last year spokespeople were a bit ambivalent about the term. Products incorporating the latest EtherNet/IP protocols from ODVA were in abundance, especially with CIPMotion and CIPSafety. CIPEnergy is getting closer.

The expanded Rockwell Automation portfolio features:

CompactLogix 5370 Series of PACs – Provides standard and integrated motion on EtherNet/IP in a single controller – using the same configuration, networking and visualization environment as ControlLogix-based systems.

Allen-Bradley Kinetix 350 Single-Axis EtherNet/IP Servo Drive eliminates the need for a separate motion network. This new drive will also feature a power range up to three kilowatts.

Rockwell Software RSLogix 5000 Design and Configuration Software – A single development that integrates Rockwell Automation control and information products on a single network including: process, batch, discrete, drives, safety and motion.

To provide manufacturers with a complete plantwide network solution, Rockwell Automation teamed up with Cisco Systems, Panduit and Fluke Networks on products, design guidance, tools and expertise.

The migrations portfolio has expanded to include an Installed Base Evaluation tool with Lifecycle Analysis. This tool assesses risks by identifying product obsolescence and provides actionable intelligence to help make data-driven decisions about conversion enablers. In addition, the StepForward Program offers a set of tools to facilitate a phased approach to migrations, including conversion and selection tools, as well as consultation, planning and training services.

Software

FactoryTalk VantagePoint 4.0 provides enhanced connectors and preconfigured reporting content for Logix programmable automation controllers, FactoryTalk Historian, FactoryTalk Metrics and FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix, enabling reporting around common equipment types. This new release also enables production intelligence for PlantPAx process automation system customers by providing prebuilt reports and a visual model of the process library. FactoryTalk VantagePoint also includes direct connectivity to third-party historians and control systems, allowing customers with a heterogeneous plant floor to make better decisions and have easier access to their data.

The application is based on a unified production model (UPM) that aggregates disparate manufacturing data and gives context for relationships among equipment, product, materials and people. The unfortunate part of UPM at the moment is that it does not yet support OPC UA, but that feature may be coming.

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