Rockwell Automation's cloud-based software, FactoryTalk Design Studio, is revolutionizing industrial automation system design in the manufacturing industry by enabling efficient collaboration, flexibility, and compatibility among engineers, offering seamless visibility, progress tracking for projects, and providing a unified environment for integrating controllers and smart devices, making it a crucial tool for future growth.Article by Tim Barthel, Executive Vice President at Cybertrol Engineering
Exciting developments are happening in automation system design, and Rockwell Automation’s cloud-based, software-defined FactoryTalk Design Studio is one that I see having huge potential for the manufacturing industry and the way we do business. At a high level, what FactoryTalk Design Studio brings to the table is more efficient collaboration and development, flexibility and compatibility, ease of use with its web-based/cloud-based software, and increased complexity at scale.
As a former project engineer, I’ve noticed that customers want visibility into the progress of the jobs we're working on, especially for large-scale projects. They want to see when we hit the development stages of 30%, 60%, and so on. To meet these demands, we need a platform that allows a large team of engineers to work together efficiently on creating content that can be shown to the end-user while it’s in progress. Previously, the only way we were able to do that was with the actual controller that everyone would be on, making it difficult to manage and not very efficient. But now, with FactoryTalk Design Studio, we can have a large group working on various sequences in the same environment simultaneously, whether they're all together in the office or spread out remotely across the country. Having the level of collaboration and version control that this cloud-based infrastructure offers has been a game-changer when it comes to development efficiency. Even with smaller projects, the ability to stay within our Agile Scrum methodology during handoffs has been seamless.
As far as collaboration and accessibility go, FactoryTalk’s web-based platform really takes the cake as it is easy to use and accessible from anywhere without requiring installation. Everyone wants to be able to develop in the language they're most comfortable with, and FactoryTalk gives them that option. Nobody has to retrain or compromise on how they like to code to find the value in this interface, and the program's ability to constantly scan code for errors is valuable across the board. For younger engineers, in particular, the program's object-oriented nature is particularly exciting, and it's something that's going to help us quite a bit when it comes to hiring new talent. And for those who aren't comfortable working with code, the ability to switch between ladder and structured text is huge. That flexibility is going to be critical for our industry, where we have such a diverse mix of talent from those with a traditional software development background to those with a traditional maintenance automation tech background.
Something else we are thinking about at Cybertrol is building complexity at scale. With multiple controllers and communication logic between different parts of a process facility, a unified environment for managing and integrating all controllers is crucial. There’s a huge need for integrating smart devices to collect more data from the plant floor and leverage it to add value for customers, and we see that in the future of FactoryTalk; the program's focus on interconnection and integration on a floor level is going to be a huge tool for us in the future as we grow and scale.
to build and deploy faster.
Collaboration tools supporting scalable teams and varying skills.
Support for all devices providing context across the entire system.
The feedback we've had on FactoryTalk Design Studio has been very positive, and we're already looking forward to what's next with the program. For us, we see huge potential when we get this tool to the point where we can start handing it off to the end-users. Each end-user's maintenance staff will have its own set of skills and preferences, so the flexibility there will continue to be of great value. In addition, we think getting the HMIs integrated into the product will be a good step in using this for a full-blown deployment of a project, along with better integration with live PLCs and simulation tools, to create a seamless end-to-end solution for commissioning and version control. Project-to-project sharing of libraries is on the blueprint from what we understand, and we're really looking forward to that, too, particularly for data collection and sharing across multiple locations and industries.
Overall, we're thrilled to be partnering with Rockwell Automation as an early adopter of FactoryTalk Design Studio to help us meet the needs of our customers and stay ahead of industry trends. The ease of use, flexibility across skill sets, version control capability, and the potential to create a centralized space where we can monitor all of our projects even across different locations all make us super excited about where the future of automation management can go with FactoryTalk. We at Cybertrol will be eagerly awaiting all of the new developments in the tool as they are rolled out.
Cybertrol Engineering is proud to be recognized as a Rockwell Automation Gold System Integrator Partner. Learn more about our certification and capabilities here.