Bosch Rexroth held a webinar unveiling its ctrlX control platform in March 2021 that I had the pleasure of moderating. According to a press event held this week, more than 600 units have been sold.

Rexroth representative use terms like freedom, openness, next level. Preceding Rexroth down this openness path in my experience were OMAC (originally Open Modular Architecture Controller, now know for PackML), Bedrock Automation (Open Secure Automation), and OPAF (Open Process Automation Foundation). 

OMAC didn’t come up with an open controller, but it did come up with a winner for the packaging machinery market with PackML. I gave Bedrock Automation a good chance to succeed with its emphasis on security along with open automation. But as I researched for this article, I discovered its website almost stripped bare. Don’t know what happened there. OPAF has momentum building an architecture that is a “standard of standards.”

Many companies have presented revolutionary control concepts to me during my years as an editor and writer. Most are gone. Rexroth has a successful run as a motion control technology provider. I predict a solid niche for it in the machine OEM market with this technology–especially if the app ecosystem is sticky.

They call it the “smartphone of controllers” pointing to its ecosystem of apps now being provided by third-party automation companies. I’ve also seen ecosystems come and go. Perhaps one day one will find traction. Perhaps this is the one.

Here are a few morsels from this week’s press event:

CtrlX Operating System

  • Now available for third party developers
  • Linux-based operating system
  • Available for hardware from third-party providers and virtualized environments
  • Next level of openness and freedom in automation
  • Can be used on all levels – from the field level to the cloud 
  • Hardened software stack with a high degree of cybersecurity 
  • Connection to the ctrlX Store and the ctrlX Device Portal 
  • Hardware independence also makes it possible to operate a virtual control system on hypervisor platforms, in the data center, on edge servers or in the cloud. 
  • Supports app technology, web-based engineering, secure user management and the high-performance exchanging of data via the ctrlX Data Layer. 
  • The ctrlX Device Portal allows effective device management anywhere in the world.

The next level of freedom in automation

ctrlX ecosystem with app technology

  • New third-party support
  • Salesforce supports digital service concepts 
  • SICK contributes sensor data integration and sensor apps 
  • Partner world ctrlX World now includes over 60 third-party providers 
  • Other partners that have joined the ctrlX World in recent months include: 36ZERO Vision by Deutschdata Karamat und Ziesche GmbH, Dataprophet, FANUC Deutschland GmbH, Hailo Technologies Ltd., i-flow GmbH, KEBA Industrial Automation GmbH, SIMON Modellierungen GmbH, Timecho Europe GmbH, WEPALL ROBOT EASY TOOLS, S.L. and Balluff GmbH.
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