Wonderware's ArchestrA framework, designed to provide the core infrastructure for automation application development, was launched in South Africa at the Futuristix-Wonderware User Group Conference earlier this month (13-16 April 2003). Its makers say that the ArchestrA framework provides new levels of ease of use, scaleability, project productivity and extensibility for products and solutions developed on this platform.
"ArchestrA is as significant to the industrial automation community as Windows and .NET was to DOS," says Mike le Plastrier, MD of Futuristix-Wonderware. "Long ago, Wonderware recognised the need to enable different application components to run seamlessly on top of a common infrastructure. This would allow application developers to concentrate on making the best use of their domain expertise rather than spending redundant time and effort on the 'plumbing' underlying the application. Developers would only need assembly or configuration skills rather than sophisticated programming skills for developing automation applications. ArchestrA is the result of this intense development effort. Named as a combination of the words architecture and orchestra, this new operating framework is a common set of infrastructure services rather than an off-the-shelf product."
ArchestrA saves both control and process or production engineers from having to know the ins and outs of developing the core technologies common to virtually all automation applications. Its new design and development environment offers the ability to handle event-based processing, scripting and calculation. ArchestrA provides standardised ways to manage alarms and events, data logging and, in parallel with Windows, security management. It enables integration with and data acquisition from all types of field control and sensor devices and it uses inter-object communications and name service management to simplify tasks. It automatically provides version management and control capabilities as well as centralised licence management, deployment, system diagnostics and administration.
"By using ArchestrA's plant-centric, Component Architecture Model for their system design, application developers can reuse engineering from project to project, often using as much as 70% of the engineering developed for previous projects in their new projects," continues le Plastrier. "Taken together, the new features of ArchestrA allow companies in all industries to stay competitive in an Internet time warp, in which product life cycles are growing ever shorter and end-user customers are demanding custom products that can be brought to market more quickly. The ArchestrA framework allows application developers to shorten their product development cycles, manage continuous improvements throughout a project's life and truly make products evolutionary over their lifetime. Rather this, than the conventional and discontinuous 'plug-the hole' approach to application development and maintenance."
Following the introduction of ArchestrA is the release of the first new and enhanced components to the FactorySuite A2 range of solutions that will make effective use of the power of this framework (the 'A2' indicates the presence of the ArchestrA architecture). This will launch another significant phase in FactorySuite's evolution in the industrial automation market space.
Next month's issue will include an interview between Darren Smith of Technews and Mike le Plastrier - do not miss it, it is set to be very interesting.
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