Rockwell Automation recently released PlantPAx® 5.0, the latest DCS platform, will reduce the architectural footprint with fewer servers and more powerful controllers, drive consistency with embedded process instructions in the controller, streamline workflows with an improved development experience of system attributes, provide robust analytics for real-time decision-making, and align with international cybersecurity standards.
A modern DCS should enable producers to achieve plant-wide control and optimisation, maximise operations, achieve high availability, reduce costs, and increase production. Additionally, a modern DCS can help address three major challenges faced almost universally by producers and manufacturers:
Addressing the challenge of productivity – How can producers best innovate when disparate systems throughout the enterprise create bottlenecks and inefficiencies? The sheer amount of information from supply chains, plant assets, and business systems can overwhelm teams trying to function in real-time or create a new concept. Rapid improvements in technology enable producers to access more information than ever for decision-making purposes.
Doing more with less to help the bottom line – Production teams must do more with less to meet budget expectations throughout their plant’s lifecycle. Operators must find ways to gain the visibility and control needed to reduce unplanned downtime, prevent quality issues, and eliminate waste from production. Producers are looking for plant-wide automation that is easily updated and supported, and technology must help the plant remain in continuous operation.
Reducing operational risk – Risk is everywhere and takes many forms respective to your network infrastructure, the backbone of your system. Even when contingencies are considered, unforeseen events can impact safe and reliable plant operations. As producers identify factors that contribute to unplanned delays, downtime, product safety, and worker safety, they require systems that can navigate dynamic conditions and that enable them to aggressively respond armed with information. As threats shift from operational risks to external actors, control systems need to be strong yet adaptable.
The significance of PlantPAx 5.0, a system that has a smaller footprint that is easier and faster to deploy, provides real-time data and analytics for informed decision-making, and is supported throughout its entire lifecycle is not lost on producers. Those in batch, hybrid and heavy industries can benefit from a DCS that is purpose-built for plant-wide control and able to serve larger and more complex operations securely.
A few of the features of PlantPAx 5.0 are as stated below:
Data, analytics, and insights that enable real-time decision-making – This includes visualisation and dashboards for operations that provide production and operator KPIs, sight to abnormal situations like alarm logs and unexpected downtime events, and a modern approach to HMI graphics.
Support for a system over its lifecycle – Beyond the initial purchase and commissioning, user will continue to get customised support for years to come. That includes access to subject matter experts, field services, support contracts, and long-term product availability.
Workforce solutions – From remote access and mobile devices to training for the shift from specialist to generalist, the modern DCS can help address common workforce issues. It provides an enterprise-wide view, so staff is not needed onsite, and encourages the shift from reading and memorising manuals to being able to access expert help as its needed.
Cybersecurity for systems – Adhering to cybersecurity standards and certifications for standards such as ISA99/IEC 62443 should be the expectation for any producer.
At its highest level, digital transformation is a foundational and potentially radical evolution for producers in the industrial space. Embracing new technologies will fundamentally change how one do business – for the better.