I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. More on Schneider Electric in my next post. One of two ‘Open’ press releases from this year’s Forum.

This news is from Rockwell Automation. It evidently has decided to get involved with OPAF this year. You may wonder why. This statement from SVP software and control Brian Shepherd provides a clue. “We appreciate and understand our users need for products and systems that integrate well together and allow for collaboration of edge and cloud data sources. Through working with organizations like OPAF and OPC, we will continue to invest in our systems, products and services for market-leading interoperability, longevity and performance.” 

I imagine at some point we may see an open edge device or even controller from Rockwell Automation. For now, the company touts OPC-UA integration into some products along with supporting MQTT and REST. This is a good start.

Here are four examples Rockwell provided of its new emphasis on openness:

  • PlantPAx’s control platform, based on the company’s Logix Controllers, now natively supports OPC-UA, facilitating direct data sharing with edge and cloud applications. Additional connectivity options are available with MQTT and REST.
  • Embedded Edge Compute Module, which provides a compute surface within the Logix environment, enhances plant-wide connectivity through OPC-UA, MQTT, and REST API communication.
  • FactoryTalk Optix, a scalable platform that can be used in PlantPAx to provide native support for OPC-UA to allow operations, maintenance, and plant personnel to visualize various information originating across the enterprise.
  • The combination of PlantPAx and FactoryTalk DataMosaix provides a leading industrial Data Ops platform that supports OPC-UA, provides contextualization of data from multiple sources. The data models can be used to support pre-built Energy, Batch and Asset optimization solutions from Rockwell Automation or to accelerate development of custom solutions.
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