Rockwell Automation has introduced the first capability of its edge strategy with FactoryTalk Edge Gateway, to simplify and accelerate IT/OT (information/operations technology) convergence.
Industrial enterprises struggle to aggregate operational data from heterogeneous sources and add relevant context from the source — such as process conditions, time stamps, machine states and other production states — to the IT layer. This prevents them from uncovering potentially game-changing insights at the enterprise level. While traditional gateway solutions fail to address these important challenges, FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is said to go a step further, to not only enrich OT data with critical context where it matters the most — at the edge — but also deliver it in a flexible common information model to IT applications, so that industrial enterprises can derive critical insights for a competitive edge.
FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is an important foundation of a broader edge platform offering that will include elements of pre-built data analytics models, machine learning, tailored applications, and scalable compute. It is the latest addition to the highly recognised and widely adopted FactoryTalk Analytics suite offering that addresses diverse industries and Industrial IoT (IIoT) use cases. FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is also a key pillar in Rockwell Automation’s strategy to accelerate digital agility across the industrial devices to cloud spectrum with partnerships, including PTC and Microsoft.
Today, industrial facilities are made up of heterogeneous systems and devices that generate voluminous data at very high speeds — resulting in significant data silos. Connecting the dots across these industrial data silos by building relevant OT data context is critical for generating higher value actionable insights. Furthermore, unless the industrial OT data is packaged into a logical data model that both IT and OT applications can understand, IT/OT convergence remains a farfetched prospect.
An unnamed Fortune 100 pharmaceuticals manufacturer is quoted by Rockwell as saying, “Legacy systems today are not IIoT enabled and need many different software programs to collect and organise data. With existing methods, the operational attribute values collected have different timestamps, so it is impossible to synchronise the data together. Compared to that, FactoryTalk Edge Gateway automatically stitches the data together and puts it in a payload using pre-configured information model hierarchy. It gives one solution to collect and organise the relevant data.”
FactoryTalk Edge Gateway’s data management capabilities result in a reduction of up to 70% in analytics data preparation efforts for data scientists or analysts, while providing higher quality OT data. The underlying common information data model is orchestrated by the unique Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Smart Object capability and can be efficiently mapped to on-premises or cloud applications to generate predictive insights across the enterprise. FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is designed to integrate with best-in-class ecosystem solutions like Microsoft Azure and FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, and a variety of big data, IIoT, and cloud applications.
“Industrial businesses need actionable enterprise-level insights to achieve their goals. As customers continue to drive IT/OT integration and leverage operational data to drive insights, they are realising that having the right OT data context is critical to scale their digital transformation initiatives,” says Arvind Rao, director, Product Management for Information Systems at Rockwell Automation. “With FactoryTalk Edge Gateway, we are dramatically reducing the time and effort required to build, maintain and enrich this critical OT context. This provides our customers with the opportunity to realise double-digit operational improvements through analytics.”