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Edge gateway will cut data preparation work by up to 70%

28 October, 2020

Rockwell Automation has announced the first element in its edge strategy – a gateway designed to simplify and accelerate the convergence between IT and OT (information and operational technology). It says that the FactoryTalk Edge Gateway’s “unique” data management capabilities will reduce analytics data preparation efforts by up to 70%, while providing higher quality OT data.

The gateway will serve as a foundation for a wider edge-based platform that will include pre-built data analytics models, machine learning, tailored applications, and scalable computing.

Rockwell argues that industrial enterprises are struggling to aggregate operational data from a variety of sources and to 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.

Traditional gateways fail to address these challenges, it adds, but the new edge gateway not only enriches OT data with critical context where it matters the most – at the edge – but also delivers it to IT applications in a flexible common information model, allowing manufacturers to derive critical insights that can give them a competitive edge.

The edge is part of Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Analytics suite and will also be “a key pillar” in the company’s strategy to accelerate digital agility across the spectrum from industrial devices to the cloud, via partnerships such as those that it has with PTC and Microsoft.

Rockwell points out that industrial facilities contain a variety of systems and devices that generate large amounts of data at high speeds, resulting in significant data silos. Connecting these 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 data model that both IT and OT applications can understand, IT/OT convergence will remain “a far-fetched prospect”.

Rockwell says that its edge gateway will accelerate IT/OT convergence
Image: Business Wire

Many existing systems are not IIoT-enabled and need different software programs to collect and organise their data. The operational values collected have different timestamps, so it is impossible to synchronise the data. The new gateway stitches the data together automatically and puts it in a payload using pre-configured information model hierarchy, giving an integrated way to collect and organise relevant data.

The underlying common information data model is orchestrated by Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Smart Object capability and can be mapped to on-premises or cloud applications to generate predictive insights across an enterprise. The gateway is designed to integrate with platforms such as Microsoft Azure and FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, as well as a variety of big data, IIoT and cloud applications.

“Industrial businesses need actionable enterprise-level insights to achieve their goals,” says Arvind Rao, Rockwell’s director of product management for information systems. “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.

“With FactoryTalk Edge Gateway,” he continues, “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 realize double-digit operational improvements through analytics.”

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