Rockwell intros “predictive analytics without a data scientist” to cover the skills gap
The drive to make advanced industrial analytics more accessible is gathering pace. Rockwell Automation has just released a new articificial intelligence (AI) module for “predictive analytics without a data scientist”, as it seeks to make advance the digital transformation of industry, despite a general lack of data skills in the work place.
At the end of March, German firm Software AG released a “game-changing” self-serve analytics tool of its own to put IT powers into OT hands. The new solution, Analytics Builder, is effectively a skin for Software AG’s Apama streaming analytics product, which packages-up its capabilities as a set of modular ‘building blocks’ and extends its use to the shop floor, and beyond the realm of data scientists.
Software AG has warned the skills gap will harm growth, for those seling industrial-change, and for the global economy at large, which is placing increased hope and trust in digital technologies.
The World Economic Forum reckons 133 million new jobs will be created through deployment of AI tools by 2025, even as 75 million jobs are displaced. At the same time, it reckons there will not be enough skilled workers to fill the vacancies.
Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation appears to be attempting the same as Software AG, by presenting an industrial analytics solution that can be used by machine operatives on factory floors. Its new FactoryTalk Analytics LogixAI module, for Rockwell Automation’s own ControlLogix controllers, uses AI to detect production anomalies and alert workers so to investigate or intervene, as necessary.
“Industrial workers can now more easily use the data from their equipment to predict production issues and improve processes with their existing automation and control skill set,” the company said in a release.
“Many existing analytics technologies require deep expertise in both data science and industrial processes. This add-on module reduces that burden by doing the job of a data scientist. It fits directly into a control chassis and streams controller data over the backplane to build predictive models. It can continuously monitor a production operation, detecting anomalies against its derived understanding.”
The module can help machine operators to spot performance deviations in equipment like mixers that could affect product quality or lead to downtime, said Rockwell Automation. It can also be used as a virtual sensor. Instead of workers taking a reading, like the humidity of a packaged food product, the module analyses variables from line assets like sprayers, dryers, and burners to predict a measurement, virtually.
Workers can then be notified of problems by configuring alarms on a human-machine interface (HMI) or dashboard. Future features of the module will go further, helping workers focus their problem-solving or automate the optimization of a process.
Jonathan Wise, product manager at Rockwell Automation, said: “The LogixAI module makes predictive analytics more accessible to help more workers make better production decisions. 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.”
The LogixAI module is the part of Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Analytics portfolio, which also includes FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices.