What if data integration had originated and succeeded starting from the factory floor? In that dream world, the leading problem in manufacturing would not be the presence of thousands of point solutions from hundreds of vendors, says Kevin Roach, vice president, Rockwell Software. "And factory managements would not be confronted with interfaces everywhere -- without an upgrade path. Best of all, assuming integration success, managements could easily access a single version of the truth."
Instead, back in the real world, Roach is showing the way -- presenting a path to real-time integration of information between manufacturing and business systems. His solution is FactoryTalk, an integrated suite of software that embraces both services and applications.
"With increased demand on manufacturers to improve quality, reduce costs, increase productivity and meet regulatory compliance, the integration of the factory floor with information systems is no longer a luxury -- it's a strategic imperative," Roach says.
"The integration of the factory floor with information systems is no longer a luxury -- it's a strategic imperative."
The design intent: tight integration with the Rockwell Automation Logix control platform, as well as extensive connectivity to third-party and legacy systems. Roach says the goal is to give customers insight into manufacturing operations and help them execute business strategies that optimize production.
The scope of the challenge is quantified in an IBM study that indicates that 60% of CEOs "need to do a better job capturing and understanding information rapidly in order to make swift business decisions." The study revealed that 42% of transactions are paper-based with 85% of the information unstructured. The result, notes Roach, is that 30% of management's time is spent searching for relevant information and that 40% of IT budgets are spent on integration.
FactoryTalk applications will run on the FactoryTalk service-oriented architecture -- a common set of software services that include security, diagnostics, auditing, data model, licensing, real-time data, historical data, configuration and alarm and events.
"Through the Logix control platform, Rockwell demonstrated its ability to bring together multiple control disciplines under a common architecture. We intend to deliver the same value through the multiple production disciplines in the FactoryTalk plant-wide information suite."