The future of automation: our insights from ROKlive EMEA 2024

As a Gold System Integrator for Rockwell, a couple of our Rockwell experts attended the ROKLive EMEA 2024 conference in Madrid – a must-attend gathering that showcased Rockwell’s latest innovations in automation and digital transformation. As professionals with a strong Rockwell background, we were keen to attend the various sessions and gather as much information as possible, to utilize new expertise to (even) better serve our customers. Here’s a rundown of the most notable insights and takeaways.

 

PlantPAx & control systems

The first session focused on PlantPAx® Bulk Configuration alongside ACM. While ACM offers significant potential for streamlining processes, the application in the context of standardized tank terminals might not yet fully leverage its advantages.

The session on Resilient Control Systems offered an overview of High Availability solutions such as PRP, DLR and application redundancy on PASS Servers. Though informative, it didn’t offer new knowledge for our expert team.

However, the Introduction to ThinManager, including FT Optix Deployment Options, was a game-changer. The ability to run browser sessions in docker containers on a thin client instead of on RDS was particularly innovative, offering significant savings on RDS servers.

 

 

Roklive EMEA Rockwell labjpg

FACTORYTALK & ASSET MANAGEMENT

On the second day, we took a closer look at FactoryTalk® Optix™, Rockwell’s answer to Ignition. This cloud-based platform seemed easy to use and is backed by significant investment from Rockwell. Although Ignition might currently be ahead, Optix’s integration capabilities with third-party vendors (Omron, Siemens, Twincat, OPC UA, Ethernet/IP, etc.) make it a strong competitor.

The FT Design Studio session showcased a not-yet-mature but promising package for future cloud-based Logix designing, complete with an AI co-pilot by 2024 that could generate ladder/structured text code – an exciting prospect for the future of automation coding.

Exploring FactoryTalk® AssetCentre v14 revealed advanced features over current versions used by our clients, such as improved asset inventory management and backups for FTView.

 

Controllers & software architecture

The innovations in Logix controllers, particularly the new 5580 GuardLogix Controller, caught our attention on the third day. The upcoming inclusion of an OPC UA server in PLCs for ControlLogix, GuardLogix and CompactLogix from version 36 was also a highlight.

The session on System Software Architecture provided clarity on server choices and limits, which will be crucial for future-proofing projects, especially regarding the maximum number of HMI clients.

 

Cloud solutions & engineering libraries

The conference wrapped up with an introduction to FactoryTalk® Vault™ and FactoryTalk® Twin Studio™, underscoring the inevitability of cloud-based workflows. While not yet suitable for current operations, they hold promise for the future.

The PlantPAx® Engineering Using Process Libraries session, with a focus on PlantPAx 4.x and 5.x, was a hit, revealing that from version 34, you can run a second instance of the FTLinx data server on the PASS server, doubling the A&E capacity to 20.000.

 

Recap ROKLive EMEA 2024

The conference was a mix of current realities and a glimpse into the future of automation. While some tools and features are ready to be used immediately, others require a watchful eye for their maturity and integration into our existing workflows.

The potential for AI in automation design and the shift towards cloud-based solutions were recurrent themes, signaling a shift that all of us in the industry must be ready to embrace.

Roklive EMEA Rockwell engineers