I spent more time and took far more notes at the Operational Intelligence stand on my tour of Rockwell Automation’s annual fete, Automation Fair, than any other–even Integrated Architecture which I reported last week.
One reason was a press release that I received regarding a “co-invention” between Rockwell Automation and Microsoft on a mobility solution. This will become a great enabler of the Connected Enterprise according to the release. Unfortunately, when I studied the release, I couldn’t figure out what “it” was. Probably too many companies and too many marketing managers trying to get their two cents in resulting in too many nice-sounding but vague words 😉
Thanks to Ryan Cahalane, director of software product management, and others, I came away with enough of an understanding to see how potentially valuable this project could be.
Let’s start with mobile devices. Workers at all levels are bringing them to work whether IT is ready or not. When you own one, you want to use it. So, why not leverage commercial technologies developed by Microsoft (its Project Thali) with industrial application and robustness from Rockwell (Project Stanton).
The toolkit enables Rockwell Automation offerings with a consistent web-based user interface for a specific device; tablet, smartphone or desktop and now includes a prototype app, dubbed Project Stanton (@Project_Stanton).
Operational Intelligence From Logix
The second technology I wish to discuss is the latest release of FactoryTalk VantagePoint 7.0. Rockwell Automation says, “For manufacturers, making swift use of big data just got easier. The addition of import and configure mobile-based work flows in the FactoryTalk VantagePoint enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) v7.0 software enables the one-time configuration of a manufacturing intelligence solution.”
This software provides users a seamless way to access their Logix-based data by providing a simple, guided work flow to store and visualize information. Everything from installation, configuration and visualization has been enhanced and consolidated – so users can interact with their Logix-based control data from their device of choice: PC, tablet or smartphone. To promote intelligent decision-making, the new work flows enable authorized users to store and visualize specific data views and trends, and easily share these views with collaborators across the enterprise.
“The FactoryTalk VantagePoint experience now provides access to manufacturing information faster than ever,” said Angela Rapko, product manager, EMI Software Portfolio, Rockwell Automation. “For users, this more cohesive and intuitive experience is a significant step forward. The less time operators spend configuring systems, the more they can focus on how their plants are actually functioning. We have truly reduced the time to trend data with this release.”
Additionally, FactoryTalk VantagePoint software will now silently install with FactoryTalk Historian SE software from Rockwell Automation. Upon completion, the user will be greeted with a VantagePoint mobile Web page, including the new import and configure options.
From any PC or tablet, a user can browse through the FactoryTalk Directory server to an online controller; select the tags from which they aim to collect associated data; and configure scan rates and additional historian parameters. Once this process is complete, the selected tags are stored in the FactoryTalk Historian solution and automatically configured for the FactoryTalk VantagePoint software. By simultaneously configuring tags, a user within the VantagePoint mobile work flow makes a few simple selections in order to begin collecting data, and creating dashboards and trends.
Also new, FactoryTalk VantagePoint v7.0 software offers SQL Server Express with install. This removes complex licensing options from the install process.