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The EtherNet/IP Path to Integrated Architecture Success

Nov. 3, 2010
Rockwell Automation Touts EtherNet/IP as Key to Enabling Plant-Wide Control and Optimization

A major takeaway that Rockwell Automation wants to give visitors to this year's Automation Fair is an understanding of how the evolution of integrated architecture on EtherNet/IP simplifies networks and helps drive plant-wide optimization.

Touting EtherNet/IP as the world's leading industrial network, the Integrated Architecture exhibit (Booth #409) makes clear the mission to help enable plant-wide control, visualization and decision support, with the ability to manage discrete, process, safety, motion and drive applications on a single network. The convergence of plant-floor to the business enterprise via EtherNet/IP provides greater access to manufacturing data for making more accurate and informed decisions, while optimizing internal assets and resources, and using a standard protocol.

Addressing the complications to network integration that can result from differences between controls engineers and IT personnel, Brian Oulton, director of Rockwell Automation's networks business, talked of how the interface between traditional control engineering roles and IT department roles is changing as Ethernet blurs the distinction between IT and manufacturing.

"With Cisco, we have controls people and IT people talk about their convergence on Ethernet technology." Rockwell Automation's Brian Oulton explained the many benefits of standardizing on a single EtherNet/IP architecture for manufacturing applications."In conjunction with Cisco, we bring in manufacturers' controls people and IT people to talk about convergence," he said. "We note that they're both unanimously converging on Ethernet technology. There still might be tasks that they'll segregate, but it's all one network with logical separations, not a physical one. They're sometimes still figuring out who owns the assets or some organizational issues."

Oulton emphasized that "In the past two years when we look at the business cards of the people we bring in to speak with, they're all hybrid titles. There's cross-pollination going on."

For an Ethernet system designed the right way, you need a barrier, but it should be a firmware barrier. There's no technical reason why you need to fear having multiple networks become one network, said Ken Deken, Rockwell Automation's vice president, portfolio management, addressing the security issues mindset that many users still have to overcome.

"Our job is to make it easy for controls engineers to have a network that's high-performance, does the things they want and to have secure success," said Mike Burrows, Rockwell Automation's director, market development, Integrated Architecture. "And not have to become at IT person."

Towards that end, Rockwell Automation introduced an industrial Layer 3 switch, Stratix 8300, which extends the industrial switch family to provide VLAN and subnet routing capability using Cisco technology. The Stratix 8300 switch uses the Cisco Catalyst operating system, feature set and user interface. This helps engineers and IT professionals achieve secure, seamless integration of Ethernet applications while incorporating software and programming tools familiar to IT.

"The value we bring to the Cisco relationship is that we know how to make automation work very robustly, very simply from scratch," added Burrows.

In addition to external switches, Rockwell Automation is designing products with embedded Ethernet switch technology. Ethernet embedded technology helps enable machine builders to use a device-level ring topology that produces a single, fault-tolerant network.

The company also announced expansions to the Rockwell Automation Integrated Motion on EtherNet/IP portfolio, introducing new variable-frequency and servo-drive solutions with Integrated Motion on EtherNet/IP technology: the Kinetix 6500 servo drive and the enhanced PowerFlex 755 AC drive. When used with the ControlLogix programmable automation controller, these products provide high-performance, closed- and open-loop drive control using EtherNet/IP.

"This means you no longer need a dedicated motion network," said Burrows. "Users can combine high-performance drives, I/O, smart actuators and any other EtherNet/IP-connected device on a common network, helping to simplify machine design, operation and maintenance."

Demonstrating the need to deliver real-time information, Rockwell Automation announced upgrades to the FactoryTalk ViewPoint and Historian software applications. FactoryTalk ViewPoint provides access to real-time plant floor operations data simply by logging onto an Internet browser. As a Web-enabled HMI application, it extends the access to FactoryTalk View displays and dashboards to users anywhere. The latest FactoryTalk Historian software offers extended machine-level data collection, expanded data storage and improved connectivity via a more robust EtherNet/IP connection.

Increasing its focus on scalability and modularity through investments in motion and safety, Rockwell Automation has this year introduced two programmable automation controllers in the CompactLogix form factor, the Kinetix 300 EtherNet/IP indexing servo drive and the PanelView Plus Compact.

As part of the company's end-to-end, scalable, high-availability solution, Rockwell Automation offers ControlLogix redundancy firmware version 19.50. Ideal for applications with redundancy requirements, it provides support for Ethernet I/O, Ethernet device-level ring topology, 1715 redundant I/O with redundant Ethernet adapters and builds on RSLogix 5000 v17 features.

An enhanced mechatronics solution offers better information integration, explained Jose Melo, manager, product marketing, Kinetix Motion Control. The latest mechatronics design portfolio from Rockwell Automation offers machine builders improved optimization and collaboration for complex machine designs.

"From a design standpoint, we're enhancing and adding continually our Motion Analyzer 5.0 design tool, used by machine builders to help select the best electrical and mechanical combination for their application. It now provides an enhanced interface with SolidWorks 3D CAD software." The latest version offers an intuitive workflow and user interface and more industry standard indexes.

Rockwell Automation has produced a podcast entitled "Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Integrated Architecture" that further discusses these products and solutions as well as information about its latest controllers, new tools to help manufacturers upgrade control platforms and visualization solutions that can provide market-leading functionality. Listen to the podcast at http://phoenix.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=196186&p=irol-newsarticle&ID=1491177

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