Emerging trends in plant operations management

Congratulated at Rockwell Automation Fair on a just-inked agreement to put OSIsoft's PI System into Rockwell's FactoryTalk suite, OSIsoft founder and CEO Pat Kennedy's immediate, characteristically gruff response was to say, "Now we have to make it work." With PI System, OSIsoft made the market for data historians, and Rockwell—especially since ex-GEer Kevin Roach's arrival as...

12/01/2006


Congratulated at Rockwell Automation Fair on a just-inked agreement to put OSIsoft's PI System into Rockwell's FactoryTalk suite, OSIsoft founder and CEO Pat Kennedy's immediate, characteristically gruff response was to say, "Now we have to make it work."

With PI System, OSIsoft made the market for data historians, and Rockwell—especially since ex-GEer Kevin Roach's arrival as VP for Rockwell Software—has taken real steps to develop, acquire, and extend a plant IT infrastructure for production and performance management. So no lack of will really is to be expected.

Rockwell, with revenues of $5.5 billion, also has successfully melded an automation vendor's profile with that of a software provider. It starts with a seemingly simple statement Chairman and CEO Keith Nosbusch made at the event, "We have two product lines: Logix, an open control platform; and FactoryTalk, a plantwide production environment."

All else—and it's a lot—follows from this. Rockwell grew 11 percent in its last fiscal year, and earnings increased 19 percent.

"Rockwell has been our primary controls provider for 15 years," says Neil Stuber, a consultant engineer with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. "We're now confident that Rockwell has a standards-based, stable environment for production management that can help us close the gap between the enterprise and plant operations."

Announcements at Automation Fair for FactoryTalk, Roach says, besides the deal with OSIsoft, include availability of ProductionCentre, which leverages the Datasweep MES acquisition for visibility, traceability, and quality; and availability of FactoryTalk Integrator for enterprise connectivity, and FactoryTalk Portal for a single enterprise portal adapted to manufacturing—both incorporating IBM WebSphere middleware technology.

What's happening is formation of competing plant application suites, each having its own SOA-based infrastructure, giving manufacturers opportunity to manage data comprehensively while rolling out applications incrementally. The approach is well-suited for the multiplant engagements common to an age of globalization.

Note that Invensys Wonderware also is calling the portfolio of applications built around its ArchestrA infrastructure a "production and performance management suite."

The OSIsoft PI System, incorporated into FactoryTalk, will collect control-system data for sophisticated analysis and reporting. A tiered, distributed historian strategy puts an embedded PI server at the device level, tuned for high affinity with Rockwell hardware, to collect data for transmission to PI servers at either the plant or enterprise levels, where it is joined by other data streams, including from third-party devices.

"It's a smart way to get data from the Rockwell devices, and materially contributes to formation of an active manufacturing intelligence layer. It also fits in with our goal to give users as much PI as they need to get the answers they want," says Gregg LeBlanc, OSIsoft director of technical strategy.

OSIsoft's strength is in process industries. Shipping on the Rockwell platform, "opens up a discrete manufacturing market, where Rockwell dominates, that we're not servicing widely today," says LeBlanc.





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