Rockwell Automation shares plans for process automation growth

NOVEMBER 18, 2008--Rockwell Automation (Nashville, TN, USA; has announced its roadmap for process automation that includes bringing together its end-to-end suite with a new name -- Rockwell Automation PlantPAx systems and solutions.

NOVEMBER 18, 2008--Rockwell Automation (Nashville, TN, USA; has announced its roadmap for process automation that includes bringing together its end-to-end suite with a new name -- Rockwell Automation PlantPAx systems and solutions.

"This roadmap represents a culmination of the investments we've made to extend and enhance our process technologies, systems, solutions, and services," says Steve Eisenbrown, senior vice president, automation and software, Rockwell Automation. "The PlantPAx portfolio[…] unifies our core capabilities and technologies with those of our market-leading partners, like OSIsoft and Endress+Hauser, and acquisitions, like Incuity, Pavilion Technologies, ICS Triplex, and ProsCon, under a common systems and solutions umbrella to provide even greater market innovation and value to process industry customers."

Rockwell Automation showcased the PlantPAx process automation system, a key component of the portfolio, at the Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) conference on Nov. 17 and 18, in conjunction with its Automation Fair event. The company laid out plans for continued expansion of the system based on a combination of the two core Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture technologies, Logix platform and FactoryTalk suite, and those leveraged from co-investments with partners and acquired companies.

Key areas highlighted during the PlantPAx system presentations included:

  • System engineering. With the PlantPAx system, the company's system engineering environment will offer process and batch control users a new library of reusable control objects with tools to simplify its deployment. The recently released advanced process control (APC) functions to enhance the performance of slow-response process loops also are included. A future release will include the ability to populate the system with modules from multiple plant design and engineering tools so it can be used for plant-wide control.
  • Control and visualization platforms. Control strategies and accompanying visualization are configured using modular and reusable objects, simplifying design, commissioning, and maintenance. Continued advances around system high availability serve to minimize or eliminate downtime and process disruptions caused by control system modifications. PlantPAx also delivers an evolving alarm platform that allows operators to manage native alerts, as well as those associated with third-party controlled equipment, in accordance with current industry standards.
  • Performance and process optimization. The PlantPAx system extends process optimization to include fuzzy logic, basic and advanced process loop tuning, and a model-predictive control (MPC) suite from the acquisition of Pavilion Technologies. The MPC offering from Pavilion Technologies, while an integral element of the PlantPAx system, will continue to function as a stand-alone supervisory application with DCS and PLCs from other suppliers.
  • Batch and sequencing. The PlantPAx system uses core batch and sequencing technologies. The system adheres to ISA-88 standards and presents a scalable batch control capability that includes a controller-based state machine for local sequencing applications to more comprehensive server-based batch control with material tracking and electronic batch records advantages.
  • Process safety and critical control. Further development of the company's process safety capabilities offers broad coverage of safety integrity levels (SIL) and fault-tolerance requirements. ICS Triplex is integrated with the PlantPAx system.
  • Asset management. Expansion of the company's asset management suite includes new data delivery capabilities, tools, and procedures that track assets and their performance. Version management of control assets, calibration management of process instrumentation, and valuable diagnostics for HART and process fieldbus devices are included in the offering. A subsequent release will add enhancements to the company's device configuration philosophy.
  • Plant information. The PlantPAx system allows plant-wide process data management through its historian capability. The historian offering -- based on the PI System from OSIsoft -- is integrated with the Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Integrated Production and Performance Software Suite. Further, the new FactoryTalk VantagePoint enterprise manufacturing intelligence and reporting software helps enable aggregation, analysis, and display of plant information.

In addition to these key focus areas, Rockwell Automation will demonstrate an update on its alliance with Endress+Hauser in support of pretested interoperability between instrumentation and control. The two companies also will work together to reduce project lifecycle costs such as engineering integration, commissioning, and startup.

The PlantPAx system roadmap was set through close collaboration with the company's process automation customers. Rockwell Automation maintains a process customer advisory board that cuts across a broad set of industries and provides input that drives product development decisions.

Larry O'Brien, research director, process automation, ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, MA;, says, "A big part of the value proposition to the process industries is driving out the incredible amount of customization that has traditionally been required to make applications communicate with each other from the instrument level through the automation system, operations management and business systems. Rockwell Automation has come a long way in driving out this customization through a unified suite of applications with FactoryTalk software, its acquisitions of Pavilion and ICS Triplex, and its alliances with Endress+Hauser and OSIsoft. The PlantPAx system is a big evolutionary step forward for Rockwell Automation, and essentially brings all their process expertise together."

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