Potentially viable start-ups are rare in the industrial automation space. Recently Russ Fadel, Rick Bullotta, and John Richardson did it with ThinkWorx an Internet of Things oriented software they sold to PTC. That was their second effort having previously sold Lighthammer to SAP.
Now we have Albert Rooyakkers, CTO and inventor, and Bob Honor, president and former VP at Rockwell Automation and GE Intelligent Platforms, releasing a new industrial control system and company—Bedrock Automation. This company was introduced to Manufacturing Connection readers last December.
This is a tough area for an entrant. I’ve watched the rise and fall of PC-based control from back in the late 90s. Rockwell Automation and Siemens are so entrenched in the market. The next tier is solid with AutomationDirect, B+R Automation, Beckhoff Automation, Mitsubishi, and Schneider Electric.
When you develop a product for a crowded market, you basically have to execute one of two strategies. Either you think that the products have reached commodity status and that you can make them better, faster, cheaper (at least the last two). Or, you totally disrupt the industry by bringing out something that does what others do better—and adds some significant new features and benefits.
Bedrock Automation executives believe they have accomplished the latter. The design begins with built-in cyber security. Its patented architecture features a pin-less, electromagnetic backplane. It addresses “virtually all control applications with fewer than a dozen part numbers, reducing cyber attack vectors, cutting lifecycle costs, and simplifying engineering, commissioning and maintenance.”
“Starting from a blank sheet of paper while inventing and deploying advanced semiconductor, mechanical design, cyber computing and communication technologies has resulted in a completely new automation platform. The future is now,” said Bedrock Automation CTO and Engineering VP, Albert Rooyakkers.
Commitment to simple, elegant design is a core tenet of the system. Bedrock delivers I/O, power and communications across the pin-less electromagnetic backplane with a parallel architecture that supports ultra fast scan times regardless of I/O count. The removal of I/O pins improves reliability and increases cyber security while forming a galvanic isolation barrier for every I/O channel. This innovative backplane also allows installation of I/O modules in any orientation and location for “unprecedented” flexibility in I/O and cable management.
Secure I/O modules use layers of advanced technology to deliver software-defined I/O for universal analog, discrete, Ethernet and Fieldbus signal types. A secure power module is functionally and physically coupled to the backplane to deliver single and dual redundant cyber secure power for the control system. A secure universal controller can run virtually every application independent of size or control task: discrete, batch, continuous, or multivariable control from one device that supports as few as ten, to as many as thousands of I/O points. No longer are separate programmable logic controllers (PLC) and distributed control systems (DCS) required.
“As cyber threats to all industries grow, traditional control system vendors respond by adding cost and complexity to their legacy technology. With deep roots in both automation and semiconductors, and unburdened by legacy, Bedrock Automation has created not only the most cyber secure system available today but we have also established new benchmarks for performance, scalability and affordability,” said Bedrock Automation President, Bob Honor.
Layers of protection
Replacing pins with an electromagnetic backplane is one of many layers of cyber security protection that Bedrock Automation has implemented. Additional cyber security layers include:
- A real time operating system with the highest safety (SIL 4) and security (EAL6+) rating of any RTOS available today
- Cyber secure microcontrollers with encrypted keys and TRNG embedded in all system modules including the controller, power supply and I/O
- All modules encased in anti-tamper metal that is impenetrable without metal cutting tools
- Authentication extending throughout the supply chain, including third party software and applications
Adding so many layers of protection to a conventional DCS, SCADA RTU, PAC or PLC would add cost and complexity and degrade performance. With Bedrock, they were built in from the start.
“Brown Engineers is excited to join the Bedrock revolution. Clients in our focus markets of electric, water, and sewer utilities, are increasingly concerned about cyber security and are confident that installing Bedrock will give them peace of mind to tell their ratepayers and their board members that they are taking every precaution to protect their processes. Brown Engineers demonstrates its continued commitment to keeping clients on the forefront of technical innovation,” said Dee Brown of Brown Engineers, an industrial systems integration firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Open, flexible engineering
Bedrock delivers an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) based on an open IEC 61131 software toolset that supports embedded OPC UA. The IDE enables users to develop, operate and authenticate control for a vast array of PLC, SCADA and DCS applications. Fewer components means fewer panel layouts and wiring diagrams to contend with. Software configurable I/O can be changed in the field with the click of a mouse. Ninety percent fewer I/O module types means fewer spare parts to keep and manage. Such innovations contribute to reducing overall engineering design costs by up to 33 percent.
“Bedrock is the first unique platform to enter the control market in the last 15 years. It diverges radically from the typical platforms and is superior in terms of processing power, redundancy, scalability, security and cost efficiency. We plan to use it as a point of differentiation for our business,” said Chris McLaughlin of Vertech, a Phoenix-based industrial systems integrator.
Pricing and availability
The Bedrock control system is available now in baseline configuration starting at $20,000 MSRP. A growing network of world-class system integrators and automation solution providers is available to provide local sales and support.
For more information about the Bedrock revolution, download the first white paper in the series: Revolution – Chapter One: The Backplane.