Reflecting trends I see in consumer-oriented platforms, Rockwell Automation has added custom-device plug-in capability to its FactoryTalk AssetCentre v6.0 asset management software. System integrators can now develop re-usable plug-ins to connect the software to unlimited third-party devices. For manufacturers, this connectivity expands monitoring, backup and recovery capabilities for their critical automation-related assets.
Just take a look at some of the latest developments from Facebook. They are telling media companies and others that the audience is there, on Facebook, so develop apps to reach that audience (owned, by the way, by Facebook).
This is not an exact analogy, but Rockwell has great market share of automation and control in North America and is competitive in Asia. Its software business, while not so dominant, is competitive. Therefore, it makes sense to offer this expansion for asset management.
FactoryTalk AssetCentre software is an asset management tool that allows manufacturers and industrial operators to centrally manage controllers and other automation-related assets. It archives asset configurations on a regularly scheduled basis, tracking changes and providing a point of return for faster recovery following an unscheduled downtime event. Archived asset configurations can also be saved and used as a “golden copy” configuration, allowing customers to pinpoint exactly what should be running in their automation layer and compare it with what is actually running.
“The FactoryTalk AssetCentre software now provides extensive access to equipment across an entire automation system,” said Mohit Singhai, product manager for Rockwell Automation. “Additionally, plug-in definitions created for one third-party device can be re-used with other devices or even in other automated industrial systems to help speed up commissioning and deployment.”
The software also archives user actions and changes. This allows operators or technicians to audit any changes that have been made to more easily identify a problem’s root cause, such as when a temporary code fix to keep a line running leads to an unanticipated downstream issue. Regular comparison reports can also inform operators of any discrepancies that might be occurring between an asset’s last saved configuration and its current parameters.
FactoryTalk AssetCentre software provides configurable levels of security. Administrators can establish role-based data access and activity limitations, and monitor individual user activities.
In addition to the new custom-device, plug-in capability included in the v6.0 software release, independent agent-group functionality has also been added. It allows users to place interrelated programs or agents into groups and then independently configure each agent group as needed, which allows for more scalable and flexible architectures.