Rockwell Automation announces strategy to close business and plant information system gap

By Control Engineering Staff October 24, 2005

As a further indication that the integration of plant and business information systems is becoming a greater imperative for manufacturers, Rockwell Automation has announced plans to extend its manufacturing execution system (MES) offerings via a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and bring the company’s software product offerings into a single integrated suite referred to as Rockwell Software FactoryTalk.

Over the past few years, FactoryTalk has been the name used to refer to Rockwell Automation’s MES level of software designed to enable companies to share manufacturing data and common services to reduce the time required to design, deploy, and maintain integrated automation systems.

According to Kevin Roach, vice president of Rockwell Software, FactoryTalk is the name now used to refer to the company’s integrated suite of scalable, modular, and standards-based production performance software applications with tight integration to the Logix control platform, as well as connectivity to third-party and legacy systems. At present, plans for the FactoryTalk suite will include:

FactoryTalk View—real-time SCADA and visibility software;

FactoryTalk Logix 5000—automation design and control;

FactoryTalk Historian—enterprise-wide data collection

FactoryTalk Quality—enterprise quality and compliance;

FactoryTalk Tracker—production execution; and

FactoryTalk Simulation—planning, simulation and optimization.

In the first quarter of 2006, a new version of Rockwell software RSMACC Asset Management Software (change control, security, and compliance) and FactoryTalk Integrator (business system connectivity) will be available. As the company releases new versions of its Rockwell Software, Propack Data, and Arena offerings, those products also will be incorporated into the Rockwell Software FactoryTalk suite.

“Through the Logix control platform, Rockwell Automation demonstrated its ability to bring together multiple control disciplines, such as process control, batch control, drive systems, motion control, discrete control, and safety, under a common architecture,” Roach said. “We intend to deliver that same value through the multiple production disciplines in the FactoryTalk plant-wide information software suite.”

FactoryTalk production disciplines include:

Performance and visibility: for creation and display of key metrics and content in the context of operational effectiveness, including overall equipment effectiveness analysis, human-machine interface, reporting, and online analytical processing. Products available today in this category include RSBizWare PlantMetrics and RSView.

Production management: products in this category include software for order execution, tracking, and interactive manufacturing process control. Current offerings include RSBizWare Scheduler, RSBizWare Batch and Propack Data PMX.

Asset management: applications such as RSMACC allow optimization of maintenance and plant operations through risk mitigation procedures, including diagnostics, calibration, and real-time monitoring, as well as auditing equipment and network health to improve overall resource availability.

Quality and compliance: products for automated quality control, assurance and analysis, SPC/SQC, specification management, and regulatory reporting. Offerings available today include RSBizWare eProcedure and Propack Data PMX SkillTrack.

Data management: software for automated and manual data management, including event, process and production, archive, third-party connectivity, plant models, master data (recipes and specifications), document storage, aggregation of multiple sites with synchronization, and recipe management. Current offerings in this category include RSBizWare, RSSql, RSLinx and RSBizWare Historian.

Design and configuration: includes enhancements to software, such as RSLogix 5000, used for the design and implementation of discrete, batch, process, motion, and safety applications controlled by software leveraging the Logix control platform. This discipline also includes Arena simulation applications.

The FactoryTalk SOA is a common set of software services that includes security, diagnostics, auditing, data model, licensing, real-time data, historical data, configuration, and alarms and events. According to Wikipedia (, an SOA is a software architectural concept that defines the use of services to support the requirements of software users. In an SOA environment, nodes on a network make resources available to other participants in the network as independent services that the participants access in a standardized way.

Due to the loosely coupled nature of SOAs, security has been an issue for these architectures at the enterprise level. Roach says that Rockwell is addressing FactoryTalk SOA security issues with a specific focus on plant floor issues. Toward that end, Rockwell has developed security partnerships with several customers, Roach says, to test the integrity of the SOA for current and future releases of products to the suite before they are made available.

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David Greenfield, editorial director, Control Engineering ,