The energy drink RAGE (Rockwell Automation Global Energy) doesn't exist in the real world, but the premise behind it allowed Rockwell Automation to demonstrate the integration of its automation technology with PTC’s software in the wake of the companies’ recently announced partnership.
Rather than explaining how the integration of PTC and Rockwell Automation technologies can work together in the abstract, Rockwell Automation demoed a mixing and packaging operation at its 2018 TechED event in San Diego. Ted Hill, director of software product management, led the demonstration, which was based on the fictional RAGE drink.
Using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to aggregate and combine data from various device sources on the mixing and packaging lines, Hill showed how PTC’s ThingWorx visualization tool can be used to view the lines’ various devices, which included vessels for raw materials, two mixers on each line, and the individual filling and packing lines. Seeing that one of the mixers was highlighted in red in the ThingWorx software, indicating a problem with the mixer, Hill opened Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Analytics to get more information about the problem.
FactoryTalk Analytics showed Hill that the problem was an electronic overload and displayed a specific fault code. Hill used Shelby, FactoryTalk’s voice activated digital assistant, to get help in understanding what the fault code meant and how to correct it.
Hill then accessed PTC’s Vuforia augmented reality technology to zero in on the drive in the mixer experiencing the overload to address the problem. He noted that integration of Rockwell Automation and PTC technologies is not complex and can be done quickly using REST APIs.
Investigating the cause of the overload further, Hill used FactoryTalk Network Manager to view the network topology of the mixing line. Here he could see that an unauthorized change was attempted on a switch configuration and which port was accessed in the attempt to make the change. FactoryTalk Network Manager shut down the port to avoid further tampering. This level of detail in the software is enabled by the integration of cybersecurity software from Claroty. With Claroty’s ability to immediately detect network anomalies, Rockwell can notify users of a problem within 2.5 minutes on average, Hill said.
In related news, on the same day Rockwell Automation announced its partnership with PTC (June 11, 2018), Claroty announced that a syndicate of investors, including industrial operators and control system vendors, invested $60 million in Series B funding of the cybersecurity company. The round was led by Temasek and included Rockwell Automation, Aster Capital (sponsored by Schneider Electric), Next47 (a Siemens-backed global venture firm), Envision Ventures and Tekfen Ventures. Original Claroty investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Team8, Innovation Endeavors and ICV also participated in this Series B round of funding.
The packaging line featured in Hill’s demonstration was built using Rockwell Automation’s independent moving cart technology, which Hill said can move at speeds of up to two meters per second. According to Rockwell Automation, its independent cart technology eliminates the need for rotary-driven chains, belts and gears for motion control, replacing them with software and servo motors that provide linear or rotary motion in one unit. This allows for faster changeovers and the ability to deliver customized products more easily.
Addressing the demo packaging line’s quality control, Hill said, “FactoryTalk Analytics allows for a complete checking of finished product on this packaging line. It won’t ship a bad package.”
A key technology behind this claim is Rockwell Automation’s Odos 3D cameras. These integrated camera packages include advanced image sensors, sophisticated camera electronics, ultra-fast strobe lighting, external trigger connectivity, large image buffers and control software in compact, high-quality industrial housings.
“The camera’s 3D sensor looks at a cart on the line and creates a point cloud which sends data to the compute module in the Logix controller where analytics is done,” said Hill. “A bar code tells the camera what is supposed to be on cart and the 3D image it captures determines what’s on the cart to tell the controller whether the package is good or bad.”