Rockwell's Process Industry Strategy - New DCS Architecture

Rockwell's Process Industry Strategy - New DCS Architecture

 
By Bill Lydon - Contributing Editor
 
Rockwell’s Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting was held the two days prior to Automation Fair. Attendance increased 10% with over 500 attendees (including Rockwell employees) representing 186 companies from 29 countries.
 
Logix Architecture for All Industries & Applications
Rockwell’s message to DCS users is very direct - the Logix architecture can meet all control and automation requirements from discrete to process control. The Rockwell vision is that the Logix architecture is a unified platform for all automation and control applications process users may have. Based on the Manufacturing Perspective 2009 event, Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting, and investor meetings, process control is clearly where Rockwell is focused for the majority of the company’s growth.
 
In the year-end earnings conference, Keith Nosbusch reported Rockwell’s progress in the process industries, “year over year we are only 8% down in process which is substantially better than the company in general.” And Nosbusch reported the company had, “significant process wins in FY 2009.” Nosbusch noted, “…we are now recognized by process customers as a DCS provider.” 
     
Nosbusch discussed key Rockwell differentiators including, “Logix generates and stores much of the critical real-time data used in manufacturing; it truly is a data server on the plant floor.” He also explained, “Our FactoryTalk service, connectivity and common data model are highly differentiated advantages that customers value as they move from home grown solutions to open standards.”
 
Main Automation Contractor
Rockwell believes that to compete on large and corporate projects they need to be a Main Automation Contractor (MAC). Rockwell stated that they are deploying their Main Automation Contractor (MAC) strategy globally, with their acquisitions including those in Europe, China, and Canada.   The company’s process control position is also strengthened with over 50 new solution integrator partners.
 
Unified System Vision
Rockwell’s big idea and assertion is that process users who adopt PlantPAx can eliminate their DCS and have one unified system. Adoption of PlantPAx by traditional DCS users requires they buy into the system architecture, including an EtherNet/IP backbone distributed database in Logix controllers, and FactoryTalk software. The potential gain is a single system architecture to serve all plant functions including discrete, motion, batch, and traditional DCS.
 
 
Network Strategy
Regarding network architecture, Som Chakraborti Business Director, Process Business stated, “Rockwell’s strategy for networks is on multiple fronts. We are adopters of open standards such as EtherNet/IP and ControlNet. At the same time, process customers and users have a variety of device networks that we have to integrate with our architecture - Leading networks such as Profibus PA, Foundation Fieldbus, HART, and increasingly wireless HART. Rockwell architecture supports all these protocols and will expand as an interface to an EtherNet/IP based backbone.”
 
 
Som Chakraborti noted, “Of course this journey is not over but this is a significant milestone in our activity as we make Ethernet the single plant wide network.” Endress+Hauser just introduced the first of many products with tight integration to the Rockwell Architecture.
 
Foundation Fieldbus or EtherNet/IP?
The introduction of the Endress+Hauser Promass 83 Coriolis Mass Flow Meter with EtherNet/IP connectivity, including tight integration with RSLogix 5000 and FactoryTalk as a network, may be just the beginning of further integration of process devices with EtherNet/IP. The EtherNet/IP interface gives users direct access to device data without additional configuration or programming.   The RSLogix 5000 programming environment treats the Promass 83 the same way as any I/O modules - intelligent sensors or actuators on EtherNet/IP with an add-on profile that creates pre-defined tags.   FactoryTalk View global object is also available which can be used for SCADA HMIs or networked computers. This level of integration simplifies engineering and configuration.
 
PlantPAx Software
Rockwell continues to refine the software libraries and add templates and other enhancements to make DCS users comfortable with the systems.  Rockwell has a Process System Characterization Lab at their Ohio offices that is continually creating and refining PlantPAx reusable libraries to provide standard Logix objects with corresponding visualization objects to accelerate project engineering.
 
Rockwell is committed to process device configuration using Field Device Tool (FDT) technology.   The FactoryTalk AssetCentre process device configuration software uses FDT technology to standardize the communication interface between field devices and systems.
 
Migration Interfaces
Rockwell offers a number of migration strategies for some DCS systems today.
 
Provox - Provox I/O scanner module that resides in a ControlLogix rack.
 
ABB Bailey Infi 90 or Network 90 - Online Development module for ControlLogix (cATM-BLY90) connects to the Bailey system through an ABB Bailey CIU interface.
 
Honeywell IPC 620 I/O Scanner - ControlLogix module interfaces Honeywell IPC 620 I/O from TDC and TPS systems.
 
 
Comments & Thoughts
Rockwell has experienced growth in process control applications with PlantPAx. Rockwell has made various attempts to grow in the process control market for over 10 years. The PlantPAx investments and acquisition strategy shows a focused, determined process industry management commitment. Rockwell reported investment of over $500 million dollars in building process control solutions and indicated that investments will continue.
 
Rockwell’s vision of a single system architecture for discrete, motion, and process is distinctly different than the idea of “hybrid controls” since it is a unified architecture.
 
Leveraging knowledge with libraries throughout the world requires a certain critical mass of domain experts that Rockwell is building with employees, acquisitions, and partners. Recent acquisitions include Caribbean Integration Engineers, Silver Tech (a division of ICS Triplex), Xi'An Hengsheng, ProsCon, and Rutter Hinz.
 
Major success will likely depend on two key factors - industry acceptance of the unified architecture and Rockwell’s ability to add people with deep domain expertise.
 
The challenge Rockwell faces is to gain acceptance from mainstream process control users. The majority of PlantPAx adopters to date have likely been early adopters of new technology and ideas.
 
I am not endorsing PlantPAx but my suggestion to DCS users, as with any new technology, is to take a hard look and “kick the tires”.
 
I am very interesting in your thoughts as you explore PlantPAx.  Please contact me with any comments.