Rockwell Automation introduced the first capability of its edge strategy with FactoryTalk Edge Gateway, to simplify and accelerate IT/OT convergence.

I have been working in the area of edge gateways for about six years as a marketing consultant, writer, influencer, analyst. I thought I knew what one was when I saw it. After reading this press release several time and visiting the Website (not easy to find on the RA Web, by the way), I see that Rockwell Automation has once again redefined what I thought I knew.

This edge gateway is not a hardware product with compute, storage, networking, and the like. It is a software product designed to connect IIoT data to Rockwell’s analytics engine. Therefore, it “helps converge IT and OT”.

Explaining the reason for the product (and editing out all the superlative adverbs lacing the text), Rockwell Automation writes, “Industrial enterprises struggle to aggregate operational data from heterogeneous sources and add relevant context from the source—such as process conditions, time stamps, machine states and other production states—to the IT layer. This prevents them from uncovering insights at the enterprise level. While traditional gateway solutions fail to address these important challenges, FactoryTalk Edge Gateway goes a step above to not only enrich OT data with critical context where it matters the most—at the edge—but also delivers it in a flexible common information model to IT applications, so that industrial enterprises can derive critical insights for a competitive edge.”

FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is an important foundation of a broader edge platform offering that will include elements of pre-built data analytics models, machine learning, tailored applications, and scalable compute. It is the latest addition to the highly recognized and widely adopted FactoryTalk Analytics suite offering that addresses diverse industries and Industrial IoT (IIoT) use cases. FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is also a key pillar in Rockwell Automation’s strategy to accelerate digital agility across the industrial devices to cloud spectrum with partnerships, including PTC and Microsoft.

A leading Fortune 100 pharmaceuticals manufacturer says, “Legacy systems today are not IIoT enabled and need many different software programs to collect and organize data. With existing methods, the operational attribute values collected have different timestamps, so it is impossible to synchronize the data together. Compared to that, FactoryTalk Edge Gateway automatically stitches the data together and puts it in a payload using pre-configured information model hierarchy. It gives one solution to collect and organize the relevant data.”

FactoryTalk Edge Gateway’s data management capabilities result in up to a 70% reduction in analytics data preparation efforts for data scientists or analysts, while providing quality OT data. The underlying common information data model is orchestrated by the Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Smart Object capability and can be mapped to on-premises or cloud applications to generate predictive insights across the enterprise. FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is designed to integrate with best-in-class ecosystem solutions like Microsoft Azure and FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, and a variety of big data, IIoT, and cloud applications.

“Industrial businesses need actionable enterprise-level insights to achieve their goals. As customers continue to drive IT/OT integration and leverage operational data to drive insights, they are realizing that having the right OT data context is critical to scale their digital transformation initiatives.,” said Arvind Rao, Director, Product Management for Information Systems at Rockwell Automation. “With FactoryTalk Edge Gateway, we are dramatically reducing the time and effort required to build, maintain and enrich this critical OT context. This provides our customers with the opportunity to realize double-digit operational improvements through analytics.”

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