Automation unveiled an aggressive program to improve the performance and
compactness of its Integrated Automation solutions at the recent Automation
Fair in Orlando. The result is a product roadmap, with more than 50 new
products to be released in the next 12 months, that strengthens Rockwell's
offerings with a focus on improving plant-wide efficiency and machine builder
"People ask us, 'What comes after Logix?' which is the core of our integrated architecture. The answer is that, 'Logix comes after Logix,' and we continue to add new capabilities," says Michael Burrows, market development director at Rockwell Automation. "We're at a threshold where we are reinvesting and growing every core aspect of the architecture."
"What we are continuing to do is to build out the Logix controllers to make them faster, and scale them to make them smaller. As the controllers become smaller, we are building more performance and capacity into the newer versions of Logix," he says. "We are adding motion on Ethernet/IP and those types of advanced features to build out the platform while still maintaining the customer's work, expertise and knowledge."
The thrust of new product introductions is concentrated on the concept of manufacturing convergence driven by two primary value propositions. The first is plant-wide optimization primarily targeting Rockwell's end user and large global customers. The second area is the increasingly growing importance of machine builder performance, and new technologies that will help the machine builders differentiate themselves into their marketplace.
"These two unique focuses are influencing our technology roadmap from different angles but we end up with one technology set because of it," says Burrows. "We are re-investing in our technology with a series of new products, but the focus is on increasing the capabilities of the core architecture."
The core of Rockwell's integrated architecture is multi-disciplined control, driven by the Logix engine. The basic concept is one control engine that provides process, safety, discrete and motion control all in one platform. Burrows says that Rockwell is still the only automation company executing on a vision that includes fully integrated safety, motion and process in one control platform and one program.
A new podcast highlights the "Top 10 Integrated Architecture Enhancements" showcased at the recent Automation Fair, November 3-4 in Orlando. To learn about these new offerings, listen to the podcast.
Below is a summary of developments to expect in the next 12 months with Rockwell Automation's Integrated Architecture.
- EtherNet/IP is the principal focus of new networking solutions, providing an ability to manage discrete, process, safety, motion and drive applications on a single network. ODVA recently extended the EtherNet/IP specifications to include CIP Motion technology for delivering the speed, sophistication and precision demanded by motion control applications.
- Expansions to Integrated Motion on EtherNet/IP portfolio include new variable frequency and servo drive solutions with Integrated Motion on EtherNet/IP technology: the Allen-Bradley Kinetix 6500 servo drive and enhanced Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 755 ac drive.
- New visualization solutions give users access to a common environment and real-time information needed to make better business decisions. A specific example is the new Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus 6 human-machine interface that offers 512 Mbyte of RAM/Flash memory and Windows CE 6.0 operating system, which removes the run-time memory limits for significantly faster refresh rates and more on-device storage.
- New software for delivering real-time information. Enhancements to the FactoryTalk View Machine Edition support the PanelView Plus 6 launch. In addition, Site Edition now includes redundancy for alarms and events to improve functionality for high availability needs, and to provide users with more immediate access to real-time and stored data.
- Increasing focus on scalability and modularity. Rockwell plans to expand its scaled offerings by enhancing the capabilities of its CompactLogix controllers, Kinetix servo drives and its visualization family.
- High availability expansion includes the ControlLogix L7 family of controllers which offers significant performance improvements and provides faster cross-loading for redundant systems. Fault-tolerant I/O provides SIL 2-rated redundant input and output modules including analog outputs that support redundant Ethernet adapters, with no additional programming required.
- Latest controllers offer improved performance. The new ControlLogix 5573 and 5575 controllers have enhanced memory and processing capabilities.
- New Stratix switches help effectively manage real-time control and information flow. Like the Allen-Bradley Stratix 8000 switch, the new 8300 switch uses the Cisco Catalyst operating system, feature set and user interface. In addition to external switches, Rockwell is designing products with embedded Ethernet switch technology using a device-level ring topology to produce a single, fault-tolerant network.
- New tools in the migration solutions program help reduce many of the costs, risks and complexities involved with PLC, visualization and software migration projects including migrate from Allen-Bradley PLC-5 and SLC 500 controllers, PanelView Standard and RSView32.
- Enhanced mechatronics solution offers better information integration. Updated Motion Analyzer 5.0 software, used by machine builders to help select the best drive-motor-actuator combination for their application, now provides an enhanced interface with SolidWorks 3D CAD software.