In the plant controls arena, IMT Fluid & Gas Flow Journal earlier this month reported on Honeywell’s new introductions to its Experion process automation systems. Now Rockwell Automation has releases the latest version of its PlantPAx system, which the company has improved visualization and new skid-integration capabilities.
PlantPAx integrates process control, power, information, and safety into one standard-based architecture. The scalable platform, which can go from a single controller to a distributed set of equipment, suits plant design flexibility but can be have highly specific system architecture with defined system elements and specs.
The system’s new sequencer tool enables companies to easily automate process procedures, perform system modifications, and sequence actions directly through human-machine interface (HMI) faceplates. If a process change is necessary or an abnormal event occurs, a user with privileges can modify the sequence directly from the HMI screen, rather than wait for a control system expert to modify the procedure code.
“The new PlantPAx sequencer tool eliminates the need for custom-coded configurations to automate procedures for continuous processes,” explained Jason Wright, Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx product manager. He added that the interface better helps operators see and understand information and thus make procedures repeatable and easier to track.
The latest PlantPAx system has a comprehensive HMI toolkit for effective display design and enhanced standards-based alarming. A FOUNDATION Fieldbus integrated host system, it also features an enhanced independent workstation (or network station) that offers companies more flexibility in plant design – especially when integrating skids into multiple plants worldwide.
“There is an industry trend to leverage process skids for quicker line and plant expansion to help reduce time-to-market,” Wright said. “However, integrating these process skids into a traditional distributed control system (DCS) can create complexities and increase costs. In fact, for a traditional DCS, integration accounts for 50 to 60 percent of the project costs for end users.”
The new PlantPAx allows a skid-based controller to be added as a native controller, enabling skids to share user accounts and security settings without losing skid application independence. Rockwell Automation also has modular programming guidelines, system libraries, and productivity toolkits for process users.
Rockwell Automation also offers virtualization for reduced server footprint and utilization, simplified software administration, greater uptime, and hardware consolidation. Its pre-configured Virtual Image Templates are supplied via USB hard drives, and can be dropped into PlantPAx. They are compatible with VMware’s vSphere. The templates are Engineering Workstation, Operator Workstation, and Process Automation System Server.