A Better Machine for the Connected Enterprise

Integrated Architecture Enhancements Facilitate Easier Connectivity With Implicit Security

By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief, Control Global

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At this week's Automation Fair, presented by Rockwell Automation in Houston, the Integrated Architecture booth was stuffed full of new products, from food-grade servo motors, drives and converters to the upgraded Allen-Bradley Dynamix 1444 Series system for condition monitoring, now with EtherNet/IP, and more.

Seven existing Allen-Bradley ControlLogix isolated analog input/output (I/O) modules have been re-architected into three new designs with increased channel count, higher precision, faster response time and new interface capabilities. A newly enhanced FLEX I/O analog module, for example, is now HART 7.0-compliant, with an independent HART modem on each channel.

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The Armor GuardLogix controller extends the Allen-Bradley ControlLogix platform to the on-machine space as a SIL 3 safety controller in an IP67 form factor. The Allen-Bradley GuardLogix controller has dual redundant Ethernet ports, allowing replacement of devices without stopping production. The GuardLogix controller is available with the new Allen-Bradley 1732E ArmorBlock dual-port Ethernet Quick Connect module,, which can power up and establish a network connection within 500 milliseconds.

Security was also highlighted in the booth with security appliances, managed Ethernet switches and wireless hotspots. "Plant level security has become an integral part of the Integrated Architecture," said Rockwell Automation's John Pritchard, global market development manager for Integrated Architecture. "We used to say, just put it behind a firewall. But now we realize that, as they say, 'It's more likely Alice than malice' will cause a security incident. So we've put together a cell and zone security architecture with the help of Cisco and our Allen-Bradley Stratix product lines."

Highlighted in the Integrated Architecture booth was a LACT skid made by Trigg Technologies. LACT, according to Pritchard, stands for "Leased Automatic Custody Transfer" and is a cloud-integrated replacement for paper invoices for oil well owners. "Previously, the driver would pull up, pump the oil into his truck and write a paper invoice which would be left in the mailbox on the site. About once a month, somebody would come by and collect all the invoices," Pritchard said.

"We are using intelligence enabled by cloud technology to transform an industry," said Ronnie Riggs, co-owner of Trigg Technologies. Incorporating a Coriolis mass flowmeter and a sediment and water detector, the LACT skid provides improved accuracy in billing, diagnostics monitoring, a condition-based monitoring interface and "a high-water content alarm that, after three tries, turns off the well pump."

Using a tailored version of Rockwell Software VantagePoint visualization software, and with the data resident in the cloud, users can see measured variables, diagnostics and product quality on the VantagePoint dashboard.

B. J. Walker, Rockwell Automation solution architect for Integrated Architecture, said, "This is an example of how the Connected Enterprise can turn data into information, contextualized information into knowledge, and even knowledge into institutional wisdom."

Riggs said, "The Trigg LACT enabled by the cloud drastically cuts measurement error, human error and billing delays." Walker agreed. "It's reduced the average billing cycle from 30 to 60 days to 7-10 days, and using the Coriolis mass flowmeter gives users higher-accuracy flow information and density information that quantifies water in oil."

Pritchard noted, "Trigg has had some lessons in human factors as well. They found out after analyzing the time some drivers spent on site that it matters where they put the LACT skid. Sometimes drivers had to back up to it, where in other locations, they could simply pull alongside."

"We feel like we've found the ‘easy button' for custody transfer," Riggs said.