Rockwell Automation’s New FLEX 5000 I/O Modules Helps to Bring Greater Productivity and Flexibility to a Connected Enterprise

By Craig Resnick

Company and Product News

Rockwell Automation introduced a new Allen-Bradley FLEX 5000 I/O platform, designed to help its customers create smarter, more productive and more flexible industrial control systems.

The new platform is designed to provide higher-speed connectivity and expanded bandwidth to deliver increased amounts of data back to the controller, which can help to better future-proof control systems for a Connected Enterprise.  It is built on a 1 Gigabit architecture with communications supporting Device Level Ring (DLR), linear and star topologies.  A future release will support Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) for a redundant network topology.

Both OEMs and process operations can also use the new FLEX 5000 I/O modules to help improve productivity.  Engineering time can be further reduced with more simplified wiring and design, and installation can be further eased with a more flexible architecture that includes vertical and horizontal mounting and copper and fiber media options.  Hardware requirements can be further minimized during installation because the modules are designed to operate in more extreme environments, ranging from oilfields in the arctic cold to mines in extreme heat (-40 C to 70 C operating temperatures).

During production, the modules can also help to reduce costly and unplanned downtime, especially in continuous process-control applications.  Removal and insertion under power (RIUP) allows technicians to replace existing I/O, and an online change capability allows configuration of new I/O, both while the system continues to run.  In addition, the flexibility to configure alarms, events and diagnostics at the channel level helps to further drive maintenance efficiency.

A wider range of safety modules will be available for the FLEX 5000 I/O platform in a future release.  Users will be able to further meet their specific safety requirements with modules that are TÜV certified for use in safety applications up to SIL 3 and PLe, Cat. 4.

The FLEX 5000 I/O family is designed for increased security to help companies better protect their assets and their brands.  The platform helps to further enable the more secure convergence of industrial and enterprise systems when using more open, standard and IT-familiar Ethernet networks.  This is a result of deploying a defense-in-depth security strategy with firmware encryption, birth certificates and secure boot functionality.

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