Technologies Of The Year -- Entek XM Series

Rockwell Automation's asset-management solution combines machine monitoring and protection into an open-standards, distributed system.

Manufacturing companies are looking for more ways to maximize existing resources, and many are using asset-management technology to boost return on investments in plant equipment. Industrial automation company Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, has raised the bar on asset-management solutions with the 2002 introduction of the Entek XM Series. According to Rockwell, Entek XM's sweet spot is the combination of machine monitoring and protection into one system that is less expensive and easier to use than current systems. Rick Schiltz, vice president of capabilities and engineering for Rockwell, says that limited staffs and budget restrictions are keeping many companies from taking a preventive tact to asset management. A survey Rockwell sponsored in May 2002 shows that only 15% of companies are using a predictive strategy to manage machinery. Research based on IndustryWeek's North American Best Plants program illustrates the value of predictive maintenance: The top plants since 1992 used reactive maintenance an average of only 25% of the time. Predictive maintenance was reported in use nearly 70% of the time. These plants averaged machine availability of 96%. Still, says Schiltz, many plants are unable to use predictive maintenance because they can't gather enough machine-related information effectively. "Many are checking their equipment quarterly because they have so much equipment," he says. "They need more information, but upgrading is too costly." Rockwell touts Entek XM as a breakthrough response to this because of its:

  • Distributed design: The Entek XM measurement devices can be placed alongside machinery and sensors, cutting down on the need for wiring dedicated exclusively to monitoring and protection. Rockwell says the system uses as much as 80% less wiring -- a substantial cost savings.
  • Modular and integrated design: The Entek XM system can be mounted on standard rails (DIN rails) common in manufacturing plants. No special racks, power sources or cooling systems need to be added. The company says Entek XM uses half the panel space of traditional systems -- another cost savings. Also, Entek is based on open standards and is interchangeable with other DeviceNet products. (DeviceNet is an industrial automation network. The Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA) is an independent organization that oversees and manages the DeviceNet specifications. Entek XM is ODVA certified.)
  • Scalable: The system can be added little by little or all at once. It's easy to move the modules or add models. In place, Entek offers real-time and near-real time information for monitoring and protection that can be distributed enterprise wide. "The XM Series' ability to capture fault data across a network is something we're keenly interested in applying," says Angela Berger, plant reliability engineer at Dakota Gasification Co., Beulah, N.D. (a beta test site for Entek XM). "This information is a critical diagnostic tool for optimizing faults and minimizing future downtime."
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