Trends in automation software: Smarter, safer, more sustainable productivity

An integrated software architecture can help bring a machine online 30% faster. Production engineers can use one control platform for multiple processes and reduce switchover time by 25%, according to Rockwell Automation executives at RSTechED 2012.

By Mark T. Hoske June 21, 2012

Using an integrated software architecture helps bring a machine online 30% faster and reduce switchover time by 25%, according to Rockwell Automation executives at the 15th annual RSTechED 2012 in North America. For the Monday, June 11, kickoff keynote session, three Rockwell Automation software executives noted recent software trends. (One trend is the need for additional automation software training; they said 12 more such events were planned globally over the next 12 months.)

About 1,500 attendees had the opportunity to choose among 150 sessions at RSTechED, organizers said. That amounted to 750 hours of training, which would take a person 29 days to complete, they noted.

Frank Kulaszewicz, senior vice president of the architecture and software group, based in Singapore, said Rockwell Automation’s focus is to create products and solutions that allow customers to be more productive. Over the next 10 years, the world will grow by 1 billion people, and the middle class will surge, bringing huge new markets for manufactured goods, Kulaszewicz said.

Other observations, paraphrased from Kulaszewicz’s comments follow.

Five years ago, wires were needed everywhere. Now Ethernet networks are on all new devices, and new wireless technologies are being introduced. Partnerships continue with Microsoft and Cisco.  

Virtualization is offered in preconfigured bundles this year. We’re applying the cloud to the industrial work environment with security, reliability, and performance. We just completed a pilot with a customer. We’re working on a smarter, safer, and more sustainable environment. Productivity is key. Consumer products are changing how we do our work. Innovation is about the “what,” and you control that. Things you learn here will help you take innovation back to your organizations. I get to see the innovations you drive as I visit customers. Examples include M.G. Bryan Equipment Co., an oil and gas industry supplier, which offers trucks full of advanced equipment that works in very remote locations, without much visibility. Regular maintenance is needed, and M.G. Bryan is applying a new solution leveraging the cloud for these high-value assets. Original equipment manufacturers are applying proactive maintenance support.

In another example, Cynar Recycling Ltd. uses plastics to fuel its plant with a modular and repeatable skid solution.

Kevin Zaba, vice president and general manager of the control and visualization business, reviewed the latest innovations in the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture portfolio and how those translate into new products. Zaba recognized super users of integrated architecture (several dozen, perhaps, sitting up front, with the same T-shirts). The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture has been available for 10 years, he noted, also explaining the following.

The Integrated Architecture system and design tools allow customers to bring a machine online 30% faster. Production engineers can use one control platform for multiple processes, and reduce switchover time by 25%. Maintenance persons can find and fix problems before a machine or line shuts down. Executives can make better decisions with real-time information.

About 10 years ago, we wanted to integrate control systems.

Now we have an automation environment full of innovations: new controllers, visualization, I/O, motion, process, discrete, and safety—all integrated, providing smart, safe, and sustainable manufacturing for your companies.

The smart, productive, and secure Integrated Architecture system can provide an optimal manufacturing environment.

A smart environment can be created in a multifunctional automation core.

A productive environment can be created with collaboration among engineering and operations.

A secure environment can be provided with contemporary protection and greater assurance, support layered security, and future-proof EtherNet/IP (Ethernet protocol from ODVA). Rockwell Automation offers security from multiple perspectives, protecting intellectual property and the control system in a smarter, more productive, and secure environment.

New levels of integration are offered. A standard environment has the broadest range of third-party devices via data-sheet profiles. Premier integration experiences are based on add-on profiles, with partners such as Endress+Hauser. Optimal automation environment functions are embedded via Core Profiles. It is simpler to directly embed profiles into a controller.

Zaba also previewed future software releases. These include:

– RS Studio 5000 software, with expected release at the Rockwell Automation Automation Fair in Philadelphia, Penn., Nov. 7, 8. This modular framework for engineering collaboration offers plug-ins for PAC visualization and Motion Analyzer software, combined in one design environment and supported at three levels: standard, premier, and optimal.

– Allen-Bradley ControlLogix 5570 offers L7 Intel multicore technologies.

– Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 5370 midrange system launched this year, with a more scalable footprint and three new controllers, L1, L2, and L3.

– Allen-Bradley Stratix 5000 family of switches will expand with a reduced Stratix 5700 footprint, integrated control, network services, motion control, safety, and energy.

– Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5000 is the next step in integrated motor control, with broad scalability, space savings, and high performance, along with innovations in the electrical bus. Added energy savings will be available with mechanical innovations, and savings in wiring and installation. More functionality will be embedded.

– Allen-Bradley PanelView 5000 will include a new graphics and design environment, with data intelligence services across the automation environment.

John Genovesi, vice president and general manager of information software and process business, said the company is expanding its Integrated Architecture into the process control and software space.

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory is a medicine manufacturer in India that built a green-field plant, expecting to make multiple drugs in one facility, meet regulatory compliance requirements, and eliminate paper at legacy plants.

Information and automation systems can be purchased from one supplier and provide pre-integration. Rockwell Software PharmaSuite pharmaceutical software suite for enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and Plant PAx for batch control solutions.

Plant PAx can be optimized for less variability and is built on the Logix and Integrated Architecture from Rockwell Automation. Having one control, networking, and information architecture can speed design, ease maintenance, decrease training, and lower inventory. Data can be transformed into information to make better and faster decisions to improve productivity of a plant, providing improved visibility into processes. Customers, such as Sara Lee and others, explain how they use these tools to drive continuous improvements and proliferate process data.

Customers have similar processes that are dominated by custom-coded in-house applications that are extremely expensive to build and maintain. New tools are configurable rather than programmable, with libraries across a common execution center.

CPGSuite, PharmaSuite, AutomotiveSuite, and FactoryTalk ProductionCentre are manufacturing operations management (MOM) software tools (the next-generation name for MES).

Customers have explained how expenditures are justified via reduced costs, revenue increases, more cash generation, and less inventory. Unexpected benefits include greater operator understanding and less training. All customers have said they would move forward with investments in information software, Genovesi concluded.

– Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, can be reached at


Determination in software engineering—Sugar Ray Leonard offers advice for automation software users, system integrators, and engineers, as a guest keynote at the Rockwell Automation RSTechED 2012 conference.  

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.