Modernizing Industrial Automation System Design

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August 9, 2022

By Adam Gregory, Software Commercial Leader, Rockwell Automation

Does your company have a plan to modernize its development platform and collaboration tools for industrial automation applications? Companies across the globe are on a digital transformation journey to improve efficiency and reduce cost, investing in a range of new and relevant manufacturing design technology solutions. About 88% of manufacturing firms have a plan to modernize their development platforms, where 49% of the firms have already started on plans and 39% plan to start modernizing their systems within two years.*

The software used to design and develop control systems is one area where designers are recognizing that innovation is critical in adapting to changing demands, and forward-looking firms have been some of the earliest to shift towards cloud-native, software-defined solutions. The push to the cloud is typically motivated by trying to meet one or more of the following desires:

I wish we could:

  •    –   Spend less time on managing our software versions and infrastructure, and more time delivering projects.
  •    –   Improve our project development efficiency by using more modern software development principles.
  •    –   Standardize our development effort with libraries of reusable content that are easily deployed and updated.

Rockwell Automation is creating software that makes achieving these goals a reality with FactoryTalk® Design Studio™ software. Delivered as part of the FactoryTalk® Hub™ suite, FactoryTalk Design Studio is a cloud-native software product focused on system design, built from the ground up to be available anytime, anywhere. Starting with controller development, FactoryTalk Design Studio is advancing the goal of integrating modern software development practices with tried-and-true industrial automation workflows, enabling teams to work more efficiently and create the next generation of automation systems.

How does building modern software development practices into FactoryTalk Design Studio improve your design efficiency?  We’re starting with object-oriented principles to boost modularity and increase the effectiveness of your efforts. Modular design simplifies complex projects by organizing content into chunks of code that can be designed and maintained independently. Now you’ll be able to scale your development practices from connecting objects of very small, routine-level content, to multi-functional objects that can contain multiple routines and programs, and even other objects! Imagine a world where you’re building your applications based on what your encapsulated objects are doing, rather than coding line by line! 

Now that you’ve entered the world of modularity and object-oriented programming, you’ll need modern tools to manage the instantiation of those objects. How can you write the most intelligent code that can be reused from project to project, and how can that reuse be optimized? With FactoryTalk Design Studio, we are solving that problem by giving you integrated library management.

Using integrated libraries, you no longer have to leave your design environment to define reusable content, and you don’t have to copy and paste from a template project that doesn’t automatically update. Now you can reference and manage your library of objects from the same software environment where you’re building your project. You’ll be able to reference these libraries of content from multiple projects, allowing you to inherit updates automatically, and standardize your development efforts. Of course, library updates will all be version controlled, allowing you to choose which projects receive updates, and when those updates will occur. No one likes unplanned downtime due to an unexpected project update!

Cloud technology is the key to delivering modern design solutions. That’s why we’ve built FactoryTalk Design Studio to be cloud native. This means that all services run directly on our cloud platform, and there’s nothing for you to download, install or manage. Managing software versions to ensure that everyone gets updated at the same time, with the latest security patches can be a time-consuming and costly process. By running completely in the cloud, FactoryTalk Design Studio software removes these concerns to enable your team to better focus on designing and delivering innovative products. Just open your browser and start working with the latest and greatest software.

As companies face new challenges in becoming more agile and productive in their design processes, Rockwell Automation is providing a clear path to better software management and improved workforce productivity. Beyond modernization, learn more about how FactoryTalk Design Studio is helping teams collaborate and overcome their most pressing challenges here.

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