A Match Made in Automation

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 9, 2010 — When production lines rely highly on efficiency and precision, the slightest error from the computing systems overseeing them can result in thousands of dollars lost per minute. To keep up with industrial automation standards and the increasing demands of their customers, leading global solutions provider Rockwell Automation looks to Windows Embedded operating systems to create connected, service-oriented industrial automation solutions that help prevent downtime from negatively affecting a business’ productivity.

Rockwell deploys Windows Embedded platforms through two scenarios. The first is targeted at visualization schemes — allowing manufacturing employees to obtain detailed information regarding the products and processes occurring at any given moment throughout the day. For this, Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 is the software of choice for Rockwell’s customers. Shoshana Wodzisz, business manager, Industrial Computer and Monitors at Rockwell, detailed some of the most important features accompanying Windows Embedded software that help make people’s jobs easier, from the factory floor personnel to backend systems integrators.

“To help manage control operations, the Windows Embedded CE Hibernate Once Resume Many (HORM) feature is critical in allowing computers to quickly reboot to a known (and safe) state. The added protection that Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 provides really limits the downtime that operators may run into with other systems,” Wodzisz said.

In addition to the protection and stability delivered through Electronic Operator Interface (EOI) devices (like the PanelView Plus), Rockwell can also help customers build high-power industrial computers running Windows Embedded Standard 2009. This platform, when deployed on an open operating system, gives customers the customization features to build atop the software and add applications that are important to their day-to-day business activities. Product manager at Rockwell Automation Matthew Hansen discussed longevity and enhanced write filter as two major components customers value for their industrial computers.

“EWF and HORM really limit the interruptions that can hamper production utilization and capacity loads plant manufacturers are interacting with daily. At the end of the day, the less attention a computer requires from IT (to either repair or reimage), the more ROI the customers receive from their investments,” Hansen said.

Beyond the customization and protection filters that maintain these industrial computers, Hansen added that the connectivity capabilities also factor in immensely. From a customer perspective, the ability to quickly connect an industrial computer to a factory floor device facilitates the flow of data transfer and helps employees oversee the larger picture, especially in relation to the functionality of manufacturing equipment.

Rockwell found Windows Embedded to be a good choice for their customers due to the fact that their engineers have been working with the family of operating systems for over a decade. Hansen added that the faster time to market and ease of building images and applications for the Windows Embedded platforms have helped make software solutions for Rockwell an easy decision. Familiarity and user friendliness have surfaced as recurring feedback themes the company’s clients have outlined. Customers are continuing to approach Rockwell with requests to deploy Windows Embedded software because of the positive messages they are hearing from the developer community.

The manufacturing industry has experienced tremendous growth and evolution throughout the past decade. Although some of Rockwell’s customers want the latest and greatest, some seek to stick with what has served them best. The company strives to satisfy both ends of this spectrum — aiming to deliver products that continue the consistency and high performance that customers expect from their technologies. Rockwell intends to explore the benefits of Windows Embedded Standard 7 moving into the future and anticipates its relationship with Microsoft to continue growing.

For more information on Rockwell’s partnership with Windows Embedded, check out the Microsoft Case Study titled “Rockwell Automation Industrial Automation Solutions Rely on Windows Embedded.”

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