In June, DMC attended Rockwell’s ROKLive 2022, a three-day conference in Orlando, Florida where attendees learned about Rockwell’s plans for the upcoming year and their new products. Our engineers got the chance to participate in some demonstrations that let them get their hands on this new technology.
Informational Sessions and Hands-on Demonstrations
Elizabeth Hill Reed, one of the attendees, attended several info sessions to learn about Rockwell’s upcoming products, but she was most excited about their recent merger with Plex Systems.
“Rockwell acquired Plex Systems to add to their stack of integrations,” Reed said. “They’re focusing, not only on having an automation layer with the PLC and HMI, but focusing on industry 4.0 and interconnectivity with having a system that can store all the data, analyze it, and give you a feedback loop to improve the process. They have an out-of-the-box MES platform that can be quickly spun up and provide value to clients a lot sooner, so you can use Plex to try out concepts quickly and then scale it out.”
Reed believes that this merger will cause them to see more Plex Systems.
“I think we'll start to see more Plex Systems out there. It was interesting to see what it's been used for in the past,” Reed said. “I’m more excited for how it's going to scale out with the merger with Rockwell.”
Keith Janson, another DMCer who attended the conference, focused more on Rockwell’s Distributed Control System (DCS), PlantPAX – something he’s excited to implement in future projects.
“Rockwell’s product piggybacks off their PLC infrastructure – which is fairly unique for the industry,” Janson said. “It leverages itself nicely in the market as being a lower barrier to entry, but, from DMC's perspective, it's a lower barrier for us to operate in that space and to leverage those assets Rockwell puts out there. PlantPAX is something DMC could leverage and is an active focus we're trying to implement. I’m really looking to build and expand our competency with it.”
While they focused on different areas, what made both DMCers excited was Rockwell’s new Optix HMI; Janson and Reed got to get a sneak peak of the Optix software in a breakout session where Rockwell demonstrated the new functionality.
“Getting to see [Optix] firsthand and what they were doing was one of the most interesting things for me,” Janson said. “[Rockwell] is going to a web-based solution which is where the rest of the industry is going. We were probably some of the first hands-on experience with it.”
New Products and Technologies
Another highlight for Janson was learning more about containerized DCS solutions.
“Something Rockwell had in place for a while is this concept of containerizing these implementations. Currently, the options for download are non-customizable, so — while you can download a Batch server or PASS server — there’s still quite a bit of configuration to get it integrated and up and running. The goal for the future is to get to the point where you essentially ‘build’ these machines in a wizard and it spits out a tailor-made solution,” Janson said.
If he ever needs a batch server or an engineering workstation, Janson says she could essentially go to a Rockwell website and enter in the names and all the information to get one
“It spits out those virtual machines, I throw them into the hypervisor, and we're off to the races. It should be as close to plug-and-play as possible,” Janson said. “It's not at that point now, but that's the goal. That's very exciting.”
While DMCers attended the conference during the day, they took the opportunity at night to explore the area around Universal Studios, which wasn’t far from the conference.
“Keith and I went to dinner outside of the park every night,” Elizabeth said.
Meanwhile, Keith stayed an extra day to visit Universal Studios.
"I went to Universal’s Islands of Adventures," Janson said. "I was excited to try Hagrid’s Wonderful Creatures Motorcycle ride. Highly recommend!”
Janson was greeted by this robot when exiting the elevator.
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