Rockwell Automation offers improved era of plant optimisation

1 min read

Rockwell Automation says that manufacturers and machine builders will be able to optimise their plants and machines more efficiently and effectively if they use its latest integr4ated architecture.

Launched at the organisation's massive Annual Automation Fair – now in its 20th year in the US and attracting more than 12,000 manufacturing professionals – the new offerings essentially harness EtherNet/IP to simplify network architecture and deliver high-performance control to smaller applications. Rockwell execs showed, for example, an expanded range of Allen-Bradley CompactLogix programmable automation controllers (PACs), servo drives, I/O and visualisation tools aimed specifically at smaller applications. High-performance features such as integrated motion, safety, EtherNet/IP connectivity and re-usable development tools are the main points – giving users the same flexibility, reduced development time and ease-of-use potential as larger scale systems from Rockwell Automation. Now, for example, applications with fewer than 200 I/O can get integrated motion on EtherNet/IP, safety and standard control, on the new CompactLogix 5300 PAC. And using this PAC with the new Allen-Bradley Kinetix 350 servo drive provides co-ordinated motion over a single network, EtherNet/IP, so simplifying the network by eliminating separate motion networks, while also providing a high-performance, cost-effective solution for low-axis machines. High availability is also easier and simpler, following the unveiling of expanded fault tolerance in critical control applications – with new capabilities including redundant I/O, alarm and event server redundancy, network resiliency and faster controller cross-loading. And enhanced tools should also make it easier for manufacturers to upgrade control platforms – with Rockwell acknowledging the fact that automation components, software and systems comprise major capital investments and that plant needs to keep running – so users need protection when it comes to migrating systems. The keys here are: Rockwell's Installed Base Evaluation tool, with lifecycle analysis, which is claimed to assess risks by identifying product obsolescence, and so guide decision making; and its StepForward programme, which includes further tools to assist with phased migrations. These include conversion and selection tools, as well as consultancy, planning and training services.