“The Connected Enterprise” Dominates Rockwell Automation TechED 2017

By Craig Resnick

Technology Trends

Rockwell Automation held its 20th annual TechED (formerly RSTechED) for a record number 2,200 end users, system integrators, distributors, partners and machine builders interested in how solutions related to “The Connected Enterprise” solutions can help manufacturers and other industrial organizations optimize production data, increase yields, reduce energy costs, build secure networks, and ultimately increase revenue and profits. TechED featured over 170 discussion sessions, training classes, and hands-on labs categorized by control, information, networks and security, process, safety, systems, technology and services, and visualization, as well as application and case studies.

Blake Moret presents at TechED

Rockwell Automation President and CEO, Blake Moret, kicked off the event by clearly spelling out a five-step journey that its customers can use to begin the journey to “The Connected Enterprise:” The are to first identify a desired business outcome, then get an outside perspective, assemble a team, implement a pilot program and, finally, scale for expansion.

Next, Rockwell Automation Senior Vice President, Frank Kulaszewicz, who runs the Architecture and Software business, discussed the drivers that are delivering major productivity and profit benefits to manufacturing. These include increasing operational productivity, asset reliability and maintenance, and risk management.

We heard about available information solution capabilities. These ranged from remote and on-premise cloud to edge devices leveraging Rockwell Automation’s integrated architecture and its EtherNet IP-enabled network to connect to smart assets. According to the company, customer benefits of The Connected Enterprise include a faster time to market for manufactured products, improved asset utilization, lower total cost of ownership, and more effective enterprise risk management.

Embedded in The Connected Enterprise story are scalable execution systems and analytics software, along with solutions for mobility and collaboration, as well as connected services. Members of Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk TeamONE demonstrated this using newly released tools for instant device analytics and plant-floor collaboration. The tools included the company’s new FactoryTalk TeamONE Standard Edition app and a new FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices appliance. Both are designed to leverage the connections across industrial operations already established by the smart devices used by plant or distributed workers. Designed to be off-the-shelf offerings, these new tools require minimal configuration. They focus on helping solve common maintenance problems faster to reduce unplanned downtime, improve reaction time for maintenance teams, and further assist decision makers with health and diagnostics analytics for industrial devices and systems.

The new Standard Edition of the FactoryTalk TeamONE app is focused on helping manufacturers reduce mean time to repair. This new edition adds an alarm module, enabling teams to collaborate using live alarm details and enables users to view all active alarms. They can also view, share, and post new details to improve team collaboration by adding context with alarm information. Alarms requiring immediate action can be shared with specific team members or posted to the entire team for group management and resolution. As a smart node, the FactoryTalk TeamONE app requires no server, device-to-cloud gateways, or IT setup for manufacturers to deploy to support their digital transformation. The app is currently available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. The new Standard Edition is a paid yearly subscription and expands the features available in the free edition.

The FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices, helps avoid downtime and improve productivity by proactively identifying device health. By providing a connection to power and a local control system network, this hardened application detects automation devices on the network without disrupting operations, providing specific calls-to-action, instant device displays, and a machine-learning-based chat bot…all available from within the appliance. The appliance learns what is important to users by continuously analyzing the devices on the network and delivering recommendations to help maintenance and engineering teams reduce unplanned downtime and more quickly repair systems. The Devices Appliance can detect and perform a basic analysis on any EtherNet IP device and has detailed analytics for over 2,000 Allen-Bradley devices. The first year’s subscription is included for each appliance.

These are some of the first subscription offerings from Rockwell Automation related to The Connected Enterprise. To further streamline the adoption process, the company is using a new e-commerce portal to manage the new offerings. All subscriptions and management can be handled within a single, self-service portal. These new products are targeted at producers going through a digital transformation that seek modern tools that do not take too long or too much investment to deploy.

With all the sessions, training and hands-on labs going on over the five days of TechED, it is always insightful to attend the application and case study presentations to see real-world examples of how The Connected Enterprise solutions are being deployed and the initial results. We heard about:

  • ARC Resources, an oil and gas producer that is optimizing artificial lift and gas flow measurement on aging assets by deploying a connected production solution

  • Arkansas Steel, where deploying a FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI solution automated data aggregation and reporting of data has increased yield by at least 3 percent

  • Enbridge Energy, which is gathering and managing data from pump sites across North America by deploying a scalable historian system to automatically interpret and integrate tags from hundreds of field controllers

  • First Solar, which has deployed the FactoryTalk Gateway Cloud to connect the plant and enterprise information to eliminate back-up servers, cutting IT costs by millions of dollars

  • Land O’Lakes, which has layered a virtualized FactoryTalk information software solution to avoid potential downtime for cheese production

  • RedViking battery-free automated guide vehicles that leverage FactoryTalk to offer on-board power, measurable data on OEE, MTBF and MTTR, and the ability to connect AGVs into enterprise information systems

  • StoraEnso, which has deployed advanced sequencing, alarming, and reporting to enable operators to control nuisances and deviations through the modular sequencing capabilities, reducing alarms to boost uptime.

  • LEWA Bioprocess, which has transitioned to an integrated control and information solution to help ensuring regulatory compliance and consistency

  • Givaudan, which is using ThinManager to roll out over 100 HMIs, cutting install time from days to minutes, nearly eliminating HMI failures and downtime and adding the capability to shadow operators while troubleshooting

  • Great Lakes Brewing, which has implemented modern alarming techniques that cut startup time and give maintenance actionable information on failures

  • Jack Daniels, which has transitioned to a scalable, secure plantwide CPwE architecture to cut downtime, improve diagnostics, and connect enterprise and process networks

  • Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, which is improving regulatory compliance and system reliability and leveraging FactoryTalk analytics software to realize a 5-year ROI, simplify regulatory reporting, and solve pressure control issues to save millions of dollars

  • Midwest Farmers Cooperative, which is automating a new ag terminal with an EtherNet IP backbone, enabling detailed process monitoring and visualization, compliance reporting, preventative maintenance, secure remote access for support, and an information infrastructure that ties into enterprise systems and can expand into other sites, applications, and mobile devices

  • SPH Sine Pharmaceutical Laboratories, which is standardizing and tracking its microbe-building and solid preparation processes to reduce human error, meet new regulatory requirement, and boost productivity to prepare for Made in China 2025

  • And Sonoco, which has upgraded to a quality system based on FactoryTalk Historian SE software that acquires and aggregates real-time and static test data for its quality data scientists to compare test results and eliminate manual, paper-based archives and reporting.

In summary, TechED (along with Automation Fair), provides Rockwell Automation with a great opportunity to communicate and demonstrate its vision and educate its customers about where and how to further embrace advanced analytics capabilities in the context of their own applications and challenges to make the most of the automation and control system assets they have and create a plan for the future.

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