Anaheim, CA - More than
6,000 attendees have come to the Rockwell Automation Fair, which kicked off in Anaheim today, to see
first-hand the latest automation technologies and services from Rockwell and
its partner companies. Software and design tools continue to evolve and grow as
a key part of the engineering toolkit.
One theme Rockwell hopes to
get across to the engineers swarming the aisles here is the benefits of a
multidisciplinary approach to machine design and the tools and products it has
developed to help facilitate a more integrated design environment.
"One of the things we
recognized in the past was that mechanical, electrical, controls, and software
engineers worked on their part of the design. Then they threw it over the wall,"
says Michael Burrows, director of marketing development for Integrated
Architecture, smiling and noting that he saw it work that way once as an EE manager
early in his career.
When the process works that
way, says Frank Kulaszewicz, vice president and general manager, Control
Visualization Business, the design cycle is inefficient, with an over-reliance
on physical prototypes to prove whether the design actually works. "It's an
expensive and time-consuming way to engineer a system, and it's difficult to
optimize the design as a whole. Another side effect is that engineers tend to
over-design their aspect of the system."
The idea of one design tool
- in Rockwell's case the RSLogix
5000 control system and configuration software - with interoperability with
software such as CAD and a library of specific toolkits for functions such as
motion control and process control, says Burrows, creates an immediate
efficiency with less of a learning curve. "Engineers can learn a competency, as
opposed to a discipline," he says. "And they are able to perform more
simulations of their designs earlier in the process. That leads to better machine
designs much earlier in the process."
Building upon this
philosophy, Rockwell continues to extend its offerings. Noteworthy is the
recent update to its Motion
Analyzer Software, which engineers use to create a mathematical model to
size and select an optimized motion system, which now provides interoperability
with SolidWorks 3-D CAD software. This new capability will allow an engineer to
create a profile in Motion Analyzer and visualize it in SolidWorks.
Significantly, the motion
profiles from Motion Analyzer can now be exported directly to the RSLogix 5000 programming
software. "Engineers can now take the digital design of the motion system and
add the controls and electrical to it faster and with less programming," says Victor
Swint, vice president and general manager, Motion Control Business. "Now the
companies who have been saying that they cannot optimize their designs really