The scenario

An automotive supply company with manufacturing facilities across Ontario faced a common but often overlooked problem with their approach to asset management. Due to the lack of a unified tool and centralized system, their current assets were not held to the level of security or organization required for such high value and sensitive materials.

Specifically, they had multiple copies of control system programs, support documents, and other assets located on various devices with limited backups and no version history. As a result, users were frequently unsure if they were using the most up-to-date version and had little ability to view changes or revert to previous versions if they ran into issues.

The company was vulnerable to disaster or asset loss and required an asset management system that organized everything into a single, unified location, made it easy to see version history and changes to assets, and increased security through permission-based privileges and controls.

The requirements

The automotive supplier had several requirements which were identified by JAE Automation over the course of the project.

  • Automatically ensuring equipment was using the most up-to-date assets
  • Organizing all assets into a single, accessible location
  • Enforcing version control so that users could go back and identify changes
  • Implementing a vendor agnostic solution that worked with third-party assets
  • Increasing security through permission-based privileges
  • Enabling disaster recovery through automatic and secure backups

The engagement

JAE Automation was working with the automotive supplier at one of its facilities when JAE identified the need for a better approach to asset management. Up until then, the company did not fully understand the risks and potential vulnerabilities of their current system and did not realize the shortcomings they had in the way they managed their assets.

JAE Automation worked closely with the facility to determine their requirements and develop a proposal, which was then delivered to the head office with the goal of having it adopted and deployed across all facilities.

The IT department was closely involved throughout the project to help ensure the solution not only met their current needs but would also be able to evolve and grow alongside the company as their needs changed.

The solution

As a Recognized System Integrator for Rockwell Automation, JAE Automation recommended that the automotive supplier implement Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk® AssetCentre across their manufacturing environment. FactoryTalk AssetCentre provides companies with a centralized tool for automatically securing, managing, versioning, tracking, and reporting automation related asset information across the facility, with limited additional management, oversight, or input required from employees.

The solution provides secure access to the system and makes it possible to track users’ actions, automatically track firmware versions, automatically create backups, and manage historical versions of the asset. It is vendor agnostic and supports third-party assets not produced by Rockwell Automation, making it flexible and suitable for the customer’s current assets.

The results

FactoryTalk AssetCentre allowed the automotive supplier to have all their programs in one place. The system would monitor the controller for changes, perform a backup so that AssetCentre had the most recent version, and provide a notification that changes existed and were backed up. Users were able to view version history, see how changes impacted the performance of the asset, and revert to previous versions if required. Automatic backups mitigated the risk of a disaster or other loss of critical and valuable assets, and the introduction of permissions and privileges increased security.

The solution was deployed at all the company’s manufacturing facilities. It simplified the asset management process, reduced the risk of loss, and ensured equipment was using the latest programs.