Automation Fair never ceases to be a whirlwind of technology and ideas and this year was no different. There were key themes that I think would surprise none of us, such as Smart Manufacturing, the Connected Enterprise, and Smart Machines, but behind each of those themes are products and technology that make them happen.
Interested in knowing a little about what is coming your way? Thought so – here you go, our Automation Fair 2017 round-up for Machine Builders and System Integrators!
AUTOMATION FAIR 2017
The showcase in Houston this year brought major launches in Visibility, Safety Controllers, Controllers and MicroControllers that were on display. These included the new PanelView 5510 and 5310 with its integrated programming environment, the L8 series of safety controllers for both the CompactLogix and the ControlLogix, scalable compute modules providing a Windows or Linux processor side by side with your automation processors and a new capability extension with the Micro870 controller.
Building on that were some neat products from Encompass partners as well, such as the eWON Flexy 205 bringing secure remote access and data logging into a small footprint and with 4G cell capability and Belden’s SpaceSaver cabling line providing up to 53 percent improvement on their tried and true “classics” line.
Let’s look at each in a little more depth:
Micro870 and CCW v11.01 for Programming: The upcoming release of the Micro870 provides the most horsepower and memory capacity to the Micro800 family yet. Carrying two times the capability of the rest of the line, it may quickly become the go-to for current users of the MicroLogix 1400. Timing: February/March 2018.
Is the new CCW programming environment stopping you from using this cost-effective solution for your stand-alone machines? The Version 11 of CCW will be released in February, but fear not, Feature Pack 1 or Version 11.01 is set to release in May 2018 and will introduce a Logix theme which will look and feel similar to RSLogix 500 programs, making it easier to copy programming code, and transition into the CCW environment. You will be able to copy and paste up to 100 rungs of logic from a RSLogix 500 program directly into CCW v11.01. Not only will the interface look similar, ASCII work flow programming, drag and drop, and instruction sets are all getting a major overhaul. In addition, you can switch between the IEC style programming theme and the RSLogix 500 theme.
Safety and Safety Controllers: Automation Fair 2017 brought with it a showcase for on-machine safety as well as safety controllers. From the physical safety component, smart machines continue to prevail and here it is no different. Rockwell was showcasing GuardLink, which for those that haven’t familiarized themselves with it yet is essentially an intelligent cabling system. Designed for systems with multiple input devices wired in a series, gone are the days when you had no idea what just tripped the system, without pulling an aux back! With GuardLink, you can connect your devices, get a Cat4 system, a system that does its own pulse testing, and have full visibility into the status of your safety devices. Not only will that “intelligence” be fed back, you have visibility along your machine of status. Timing: Q1 2018.
In addition, the Logix L8 series of processors are expanding their offering. More details have emerged regarding the GuardLogix 5580S and CompactGuardLogix 5580S safety controllers which are on their way too. These processors bring with it scalable safety levels for the first time. SIL level 2 is now achievable with just the processor and SIL level 3 is possible with the safety buddy. Timing: February 2018.
Scalable Computing: Imagine what you could do if you could harness the power of ControlLogix side-by-side with Windows or Linux. Well get ready – it is here! The single slot Compute Module (1756-CMS1B1 for Windows, CMS1C1 for Linux) is launching in December and high speed access to the ControLogix processor via the backplane. Stay tuned because a CompactLogix version (5480) is slated for mid-year 2018 as well. More information right from Automation Fair. Timing: Dec 2017 for CLX Compute, July 2018 for CompactLogix 5480.
Operator Interfaces: You may have heard of the PanelView 5500 or 5300 over the last few years but more than likely you have stuck by the PanelView 7 family. After hearing what the Product Managers had to say, we might suggest the time is right to start checking this family out. With an expected release date of December 2017, the PanelView 5310 is the next generation and brings with it an upgraded, integrated programming environment of ViewDesigner v4 which allows engineers to enter configuration information once and use it for the entire automation design. Want to hear more? Factory Reps will be out visiting us in February, let us know and we’ll bring them to you! Timing: December 2017.
1492-P Push In Terminal Blocks: Rounding out the Terminal Block options Rockwell will be launching a third series of Terminal Block optionswith a full line of Push-Ins to accompany the existing Screw In and Spring Clamp. This includes a new power distribution block we were a fan of and 350 additional part numbers coming within the next 90 days. Timing: January 2018.
Last, but not least, the Rockwell Automation Encompass Partners had some pretty neat things on display as well. Here are a few our favorites:
SpaceMaker Cables by Belden: Speaking of wiring terminal blocks, Belden was showcasing the SpaceMaker, a new line of cables specifically for machine builders and panel shops. With outer diameters up to 52 percent smaller than the traditional line, and the ability to make tighter end radiuses, we think you’ll love these. Distance is limited but there are many varieties available that are the new equivalent to the “classic” cables you already love –8760, 8760 9740, 8463, etc., etc. (essentially hook-up wire and shielded/unshielded multi-conductor). Oh, and they are also suitable for NFPA79 applications – very nice. They sent us home with a bunch of comparison cables so let us know if you’d like to check them out.
eWON Flexy 205 Secure Remote Access: Remote Access has been a valuable feature many machine builders have been including when machines go out the door the last few years. It saves on travel time for troubleshooting and provides a potential service revenue stream. In addition to the popular eWON Cosy, the Flexy enables users to monitor vital KPIs and collect machine data for analysis and predictive maintenance. The only challenge? A significant size footprint. The Flexy 205 offers a new two slot footprint that makes the Flexy much more desirable. In addition, eWON just launched 4G options for the Flexy – from both Verizon and AT&T/T-Mobile. Timing: January 2018.