Rockwell Automation unifies software architecture

Oak Brook, IL. - Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis. has been working to retool its varied software offerings by migrating existing and patterning new code to its FactoryTalk infrastructure, company representatives explained to Control Engineering editors on Jan. 23.


Oak Brook, IL. - Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis. ) has been working to retool its varied software offerings by migrating existing and patterning new code to its FactoryTalk infrastructure, company representatives explained to Control Engineering editors on Jan. 23. The multi-million-dollar, three-year effort aims to improve interoperability among shop-floor solutions, ease data sharing among enterprise applications, and offers flexible data sharing for users seeking collaborative e-manufacturing solutions.

For Rockwell Automation, the initiative has meant moving sometime disparate software together with numerous open standards and platforms, starting with 30 compliant Rockwell Software products by March 2002, says John Baier, director, software architecture, Rockwell Software (Mayfield Village, O.).

For customers, Mr. Baier says, it means a Rockwell Automation architecture, where third-party software can work more easily as part of the software or system, going beyond OPC compliance, to incorporate Microsoft as well as UNIX, Linux, and Sun platforms, S95, SQL and Oracle database compliance, XML web services, and connections to ERP systems. A consistent format that enables applications to integrate seamlessly across their overall enterprises, which provides information transparency and connectivity to suppliers and customers. FactoryTalk's common language describes automation systems and processes (with S95), which helps users cut implementation times and achieve interoperability. This move also provides an easier means for Rockwell Automation Global Manufacturing Solutions, or other system integrators, to implement these new tools with existing platforms.

Mr. Baier, as director of software architecture, says his role in the migration has been a bit of coach and referee to ensure smooth transitions throughout Rockwell Automation and with outside partners. Having a standard architecture also should help customers streamline information needs - less than 20% of end-users have tight data integration, connecting manufacturing information throughout the organization, he says.

FactoryTalk's components include:

  • Directory, a common address book of factory resources that are automatically updated across FactoryTalk-enabled applications;

  • Live Data, which provides enterprise-wide access to real-time data;

  • Audit, which maintains a comprehensive record of any changes to the user's manufacturing system, to help with FDA Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations - Part 11 (21 CFR Part 11) regulations, for electronic records and electronic signatures;

  • Data Model, which delivers common terminology to describe manufacturing using the S95 standard; and

  • Portal, which allows global access to production data and reports from an Internet browser or related remote devices.

The components have become part of or work with RSBizWare, RSLinx, RSLogix, and RSView, ControlLogix, and Allen-Bradley PLCs, with the same tagging conventions, easier configuration, data transfer, and information access. Consistent use of standards allows Rockwell Automation to connect more readily with non-Rockwell Automation products.

Don Lazzari, director of marketing, MES solutions, Rockwell Software (Sewickley, Pa.), says that FactoryTalk will get 'the right information to the right place, at the right time, in the right form, throughout the enterprise, globally.'

More is available from Rockwell Software at .

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