By Bill Lydon, Editor
The new Studio 5000 was announced during the 2012 Rockwell Automation Fair, November 7-8, 2012 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. I had the opportunity to discuss this new offering with Frank Kulaszewicz, Senior Vice President, Architecture and Software, who described this as the beginning of a major new Rockwell Automation system architecture. Kulaszewicz is responsible for the Architecture Software business including control, information, safety products, safety initiative, and process initiative.
The Rockwell Software Studio 5000 unified engineering and design environment is a framework for engineering collaboration. This is the first phase of the Studio 5000 software. The goal is to eventually have design tools that allow engineers to enter configuration and programming information only once to improve quality and efficiency. The initial release of Studio 5000 software includes the Logix Designer application for programming and configuration of Allen-Bradley ControlLogix 5570 and CompactLogix 5370 programmable automation controllers. Later versions will include applications for other engineering tasks, such as HMI development, library management for reusable components, information integration and more. Studio 5000 software takes advantage of the additional memory storage capacity in the ControlLogix 5570 and CompactLogix 5370 to provide more features in controllers including storing program comments and a controller-based alarm log.
Kulaszewicz described Studio 5000 as the beginning of Rockwell Automation’s new integrated design suite. “The first iteration,” as Kulaszewicz said, will be control editors including tags, common device management, configuration, and Logix editors. He emphasized the first big step is integrating Logix and View together into a common integrated design environment. The software supports the new intelligent PanelView hardware devices that store configuration and display information to improve recovery from communications failures.
Kulaszewicz described how this is the start of a new Rockwell Automation system architecture built on a service oriented architecture (SOA), “a bottom up build,” that will evolve over the next few years. We did not have time to explore details of Rockwell’s vision for SOA in this new architecture. Service oriented architectures are common in computing today and are a set of principles and methodologies for designing and developing software in the form of interoperable services. These services are well-defined functions that are built as software components that can be reused for different purposes.
Referring to deployment of a new architecture, Kulaszewicz noted this is a process similar to building the Logix architecture that was released 12 years ago as a gateway and then 10 years ago as a controller. There will be new ControlLogix controllers designed to work with the new service-oriented architecture starting with the L8 in 2014. The L8 controllers will use an Intel dual core CPU with virtualization to run functions more efficiently in the controller. Studio 5000 is not intended for the Micro800 series controllers that continue to have a separate software suite, the Connected Components Workbench software. Kulaszewicz explained that the Connected Components Workbench configuration software for that class of product is easier to use to meet the needs of customers that do not require all the functions of higher level Rockwell Automation controllers.
I asked about user’s issues and concerns about the tight coupling of the software and Logix controllers that requires them to pay for controller firmware upgrades when using new software features. Kulaszewicz answered that this tight coupling is a part of the Rockwell Automation design and they are working to make upgrades simpler for users.
While discussing support for OPC UA, Kulaszewicz commented, “OPC UA is on our Roadmap, we are going to support that, don’t know the exact date.” I also asked if Logix controllers will have embedded OPC UA servers and Kulaszewicz indicated this is on the future planning roadmap.
Thoughts & Observations
Users have been experiencing improved efficiencies using automation systems with integrated design environments that leverage open architecture standards. The new Rockwell Automation offerings will provide these benefits to users.
The movement to SOA is consistent with industry trends and implementations are typically based on open standards, making interoperability with other devices and systems easy. Rather than defining an API, SOA defines the interface in terms of protocols and functionality.