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2 March, 2021

Rockwell aims to provide software bridge

01 June, 2000

Rockwell aims to provide software bridge

Rockwell Automation has launched an initiative aimed at providing the software tools to link factory-floor operations with corporate business systems. The Manufacturing BusinessWare initiative will offer a suite of modular tools which, says Rockwell, will offer benefits such as improved efficiency, better asset management, and more effective quality control.

According to Steve Smidler, vice-president for sales and marketing at Rockwell Software, integrating the real-time world of manufacturing with the transaction-based world of business systems requires more than a simple connection. The raw data has to be turned into usable information and often needs to be analysed and manipulated.

He says that Rockwell is taking a different approach to the suppliers of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. Many companies have spent billions of dollars on ERP installations but have not been happy with the results, Smidler reports. "To justify the expense of ERP, you have to make real-time connections to the automation level," he says.

Smidler argues that one of Rockwell`s key strengths is that it is moving up from the control environment, rather than down from the business level as most ERP suppliers have done. "We know how things happen on the shopfloor," he says. "We see our value as being able to merge, purge and process data."

"We are not getting into the ERP market," Smidler emphasizes. "Our goal is to interface to ERP systems." He says that the market Rockwell is targeting is already worth $2-16bn (depending on how you categorise it) and is growing at 25-45% a year.

Rockwell is following the model for enterprise-to-control-system integration being compiled by the Instrument Society of America. The ISA`s SP95 committee, including users and suppliers, is drawing up a standard defining the models and terns used in this form of integration. Initial RSBizware tools include:

• Historian, for collecting, analysing, visualising and reporting data;

• BatchHistorian, for optimising batch production;

• ComplianceTrack, for managing compliance processes;

• PlantMetrics, for monitoring production performance to pinpoint reasons for inefficiencies; and

• Scheduling, for creating production schedules

Further components will be provided by Systems Modelling, a US-based developer of scheduling, simulation and modelling bought recently by Rockwell. Initially, the company`s market-leading scheduling package, Tempo, will be incorporated into the BizWare portfolio.

In the UK, Rockwell has chosen MCS Industrial Software as the first of series of enterprise integrators that will provide integration, consultancy and support services for the BizWare products.

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