Automation Fair never ceases to be a whirlwind of technology and ideas and this year was no different. There were similar themes as last year, Connecting your Enterprise and Harnessing Data with Smart Machines and Smart Manufacturing, but this year there seemed to be a lot more technology ready to help you deliver on those ideas. Interested in knowing a little about what is coming your way for 2018? Thought so – here you go, our update on what’s new for 2018 for our Manufacturing Customers!
Safety and Safety Controllers – Automation Fair 2017 brought with it a showcase of on-machine safety as well as safety controllers to debut in 2018. 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 series, gone is the day when you have no idea what just tripped the system. Without pulling an aux back you just don’t know. With the GuardLink system 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 light visibility along your machine. Timing: Available Now!
More details to come but the L8 series of processors are on their way too. In both CompactGuardLogix and GuardLogix options, these the L8 series of 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 with the Safety buddy. Timing: February/March 2018
ControlLogix Compute Module – Imagine what you could do if you could harness the power of ControlLogix side by side with Windows or Linux. Well get ready – because it is here! The CLX Compute Module (1756-CMS1B1 for Windows, CMS1C1 for Linux) is launched in December and combined with RSLinx Enterprise or Classic, this CLX chassis card provides a virtual backplane between systems. Stay tuned because a CompactLogix version (5480) is slated for mid-year 2018 as well. Here is a video with more information right from the experts at Automation Fair. Timing: December for CLX Compute, Q3 2018 for CompactLogix
Versaview Industrial PCs – With phased releases throughout the second half of 2017, this was our first chance to see the entire line of new Industrial PCs in its full glory. The family of open architecture industrial PCs, new thin clients, and flashy edge-to-edge all-glass displays did not disappoint. Add to that solid state storage, intel quad core CPUs, a Windows 10 IoT 64-bit Enterprise OS, wide screen, and multiscreen options up to 22 inches – it seems to be worthy of checking out (yet still the line remains fanless and maintenance free – read: no batteries!). Here is a two minute video with a little more insight from the Product Manager from Automation Fair. Timing: Available Now!
Flex 5000 – This next generation of remote I/O is arriving in March of 2018. With the ability to support both safety and regular I/O on one backplane, more module choices, standard -40 to 70C ratings, conformal coating options, pop out terminal bases, gigabit backplanes, built-in SFPs, plans for future PRP support, etc. etc., this looks promising. The first base release, is planned for March, then more modules and safety in May, then later in the Fall we will see some additional unique options. Check out this teaser video to learn more. Side note though: V31+ and L8 processors only. Timing: throughout 2018
Data, Data, and More Data – Last year Rockwell presented a concept of phased smart machine/smart factory solutions that ran across the spectrum from Diagnostic Solutions -> Descriptive Solutions -> Predictive Solutions -> Prescriptive Solutions. The higher you go on that spectrum the more the machine takes over in understanding and decision making rather than the human team members.
The start of this journey for Rockwell was “Shelby,” the code name for the prototype which débuted last year at Automation Fair. Now, this year, the concept became reality as Factory Talk Analytics (Shelby’s “real” name) was made available. Factory Talk Analytics is currently focused on offering solid, unsolicited diagnostic information and development is happening on a rapid basis. We saw tons of ideas at Automation Fair 2017 about how this can be used and undoubtedly how it will help maintenance and engineering teams but we still love this video to give you an idea of just what we mean:
Panduit No-Battery, Maintenance Free UPS – Surprisingly, without a lot of fanfare Panduit released a pretty spectacular no-battery DIN Rail mount UPS a year or so ago. While we had heard rumors of this, at Automation Fair they were showing off this product but with an extended capability of up to 100W. We love it. They boast it has two times better ROI and 50-70 percent lower cost of ownership and we believe it. The number one problem we’ve encountered with UPS solutions, as critical as they are, is bad batteries. This solves the issues and seems worth it. More to come. Timing: January 2018
… Side note: Panduit was also showcasing a set of cabling products that make migrating a traditional MCC to an Ethernet MCC pretty easy, some neat one inch patch cables to eliminate cable management (see top of the pic), and a 900 MHz wireless temperature, humidity, and vibration monitoring solution called Synapsys. As information comes out on each of these we’ll be sure to let you know.
Spectrum Universal Industrial Gateway – Launching in Late Q1 2018, the Spectrum Industrial gateway could be a game changer. Boasted as a headache-saving single solution for connecting multiple devices with multiple protocols, we are indeed intrigued. These look to be coming in two or four port options and are being beta tested in February. Protocols include Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP, Modbus RTU, Modbus ASCII, DF1 (both PCCC and CIP), PPI, and ISOTCP.