Transforming Physical Operations with Digital Technologies

Transforming Operations with IIoT Technologies

By 2020, industrial producers are on track to exceed 50 billion connected devices across their enterprise, along with multiple IIoT applications that depend on them. This rapid proliferation comes with challenges. Companies need a better way to integrate devices, applications and systems in their industrial enterprise before they can maximize key benefits such as accelerated productivity, improved asset management and reliability.

Rockwell Automation and PTC recently announced a strategic partnership to accelerate growth for both companies and enable them to be the partner of choice for customers around the world who want to transform their physical operations with digital technology.

The partnership leverages both companies’ resources, technologies, industry expertise and market presence and drives technical collaboration across the organizations as well as joint global go-to-market initiatives.

In particular, PTC and Rockwell Automation have agreed to align their respective smart factory technologies and combine PTC’s award-winning ThingWorx® IoTKepware® industrial connectivity, and Vuforia® augmented reality (AR) platforms with Rockwell Automation’s best-in-class FactoryTalk® MESFactoryTalk® Analytics™ and Industrial Automation platforms. The result will be an unparalleled integrated information solution that will enable customers to achieve increased productivity, heightened plant efficiency, reduced operational risk and better system interoperability.


Enabling Digital Transformation

The integrated Rockwell Automation and PTC platform provides users across industrial companies with insight into operations from a ‘single pane of glass’. For example, a food processor that switches between recipes often has many different requirements for quality control, measuring out ingredients and managing process speeds. The platform can provide insight into any operational detail – from the original order to the assessment of a flow meter – by extending visibility to systems inside and outside the facility.

The platform allows producers to build IIoT applications quickly and connect to data from automation devices and applications spread across the enterprise. That also facilitates the ability to build a complete site overview showing the status of assets from raw material tanks to packaging machines. A plant manager at the food processor, for instance, can review a single line at a facility to better understand how the process has been running. The manager can also add insights to the overview, such as process alerts or the status of a current batch.

Combined with advanced analytics, visibility into operations is enhanced with insights that improve how individual users understand and respond to opportunities in real time. From the site overview, for instance, the plant manager can perform a self-serve drill down into the line, searching an automation asset to determine if there is a risk of unplanned downtime.

During their drill down, the manager can access advanced analytics based on what information the manager expects to see. Through intelligently fused data, the platform creates any number of intuitive dashboards – called storyboards – that can be shared and viewed from anywhere in the enterprise. A storyboard then provides a deeper understanding – in context and real time – of the asset by analyzing how it has performed to date and if that has impacted order fulfilment.

Benefits of Connecting

Digital technologies provide a wealth of opportunities for industrial companies right where their information is born. However, too many opportunities have been missed because data management is difficult and creating analytics can be even more taxing. What is turned into useful information is a fraction of what is in your enterprise.

The benefits of connecting an enterprise’s IIoT applications go beyond providing complex analytics and valuable insights on a single screen. Predictive analytics help to solve issues before they arise. For example, should the food processor enter a work order that involves a tank with a nearly faulty asset, the order would trigger further actions, prompting a maintenance user to resolve the issue as well as providing work instructions to guide the repair process.

Integrating augmented reality (AR) technology also allows users to simplify their interaction with operations. Any user, such as the food processors maintenance engineer, receives instructions that are visualized with 3D animations. Upon arriving at the tank, the engineer will see instructions specific to the situation, such as the asset with a potential issue and the steps they should take to fix it. Not only does this help keep the process running, it also reduces the potential for workforce error.

A Tool That Grows with You

As connectivity and computing power continues to spread throughout the industrial enterprises, availability of data has revolutionized how companies solve issues and adapt to changes. Your analytics platform should be able to grow with your business. After all, your business is constantly changing, and your digital-transformation journey is an ongoing one that regularly brings modern technologies into operations.

To make decisions when and where they matter most, new capabilities offered through FactoryTalk Analytics reduce hurdles to unleashing information. These capabilities open up access to ad-hoc analytics and performs advanced analysis by pulling structured and unstructured data from virtually any existing source in the enterprise. The FactoryTalk Analytics platform is scalable, processes data from edge devices where the data is created and can intelligently fuse related data. 

This new advanced analytics platform from Rockwell Automation can grow with your hardware and software ecosystem. All these capabilities — greater flexibility, simple searchability and scalability — work toward the same goal: To make sure your team always has access to relevant data to solve challenges as they arise. And isn’t that how analytics should be in the era of big data and connectivity?

Learn about the new generation of analytics software from Rockwell Automation.

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