24 Jul 2024


AI module plugs into controls to spot production problems

Rockwell’s AI module helps industrial workers to predict production issues and improve processes without needing to learn new skills

Rockwell Automation has announced an add-on module for its ControlLogix controllers that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect production anomalies and alert workers so they can investigate or intervene. The FactoryTalk Analytics LogixAI module fits into a controller chassis and streams control data over the backplane to build predictive models. It can monitor production operations continuously, detecting any anomalies.

The module – known earlier in its development as Project Sherlock – reduces the burden of existing analytics technologies that require deep expertise of both data science and industrial processes.

“The FactoryTalk Analytics LogixAI module makes predictive analytics more accessible to help more workers make better production decisions,” explains Rockwell product manager, Jonathan Wise. “The module learns your ControlLogix application and tells operators and technicians when things are changing in unexpected ways. This can help them get ahead of product quality issues and protect process integrity.”

For example, the module can help operators to spot performance deviations in equipment such as mixers that could affect product quality or lead to downtime. It can also be used as a virtual sensor. Instead of workers taking a reading – such as the humidity of a packaged food product – the module can analyse variables from line assets such as sprayers, dryers and burners to predict the value, virtually.

Workers can be notified of problems by alarms on an HMI or dashboard. In the future, the module will help them to focus their problem-solving activities, or to automate process optimisation.

The module is the latest addition to Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Analytics portfolio which includes its FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices, that learns about an automation system’s structure to tell users about problems with individual devices. The new module expands on this by learning about an automation system’s application and helping to identify anomalies in the way it is operating.

The products work individually but, in future iterations, will benefit each other. The FactoryTalk Analytics platform aggregates multiple sources of data, allowing users to discover new insights. FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices and the LogixAI module will both be data sources for the platform in the future.