DEC is so keen to win itself a substantial presence in computer integrated manufacturing market that a licence to build a processor around the MicroVAX chip set is included in the agreement announced Tuesday with Rockwell International Corp’s Allen-Bradley Co in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (CI No 1,029). First fruits of the collaboration, claimed to herald a […]
DEC is so keen to win itself a substantial presence in computer integrated manufacturing market that a licence to build a processor around the MicroVAX chip set is included in the agreement announced Tuesday with Rockwell International Corp’s Allen-Bradley Co in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (CI No 1,029). First fruits of the collaboration, claimed to herald a new generation in industrial automation, is the Pyramid Integrator, a modular system of hardware, software and communications products. The two companies are claiming a major breakthrough in computer integrated manufacturing by combining industrial control and information management, and providing a system that allows information to be shared between plant-floor and company-wide computers, although that is what everyone in the computer integrated manufacturing market is trying to do. The Pyramid Integrator is a modular, single chassis system with three elements: the MicroVAX Information Processor – running VMS applications – is an 8Mb CPU with one DECnet/Ethernet port and a four-channel RS232 port; it can be connected to higher level VAXes via DECnet/OSI, and serves as a link between plant floor data and plant wide applications. The PLC-5/250 Programmable Controller – which is available as a stand-alone system or as part the Pyramid Integrator – provides a co-ordination point for plant floor data, before passing it on to higher level devices; it is able to perform with up to four Logic Processors. The third element is the Configurable Vision Input Module system, which provides measurement, inspection and verification, and can interface through an Allen-Bradley Bulletin 1771 remote input output rack to an Allen-Bradley PLC-3 or PLC-5 programmable controller, and is compatible all of the 1771 input-output family; it is also available as a stand alone system. Although the Pyramid Integrator is based on the MicroVAX chip set, Allen Bradley is to work independently on its own Unix-based system, and should have a Unix product for its installed base of Vista 2000 products by the end of 1989. Software company Heuristics has announced full software support for the Pyramid Integrator, and Allen-Bradley also claims that Crisp Automation, Intellution, Control Systems International and other firms are committed to releasing Pyramid-compatible software. For the first time, DEC is licensing the integration of a VAX processor for a jointly developed commercial product; apart from the VAX chip set, Allen Bradley will manufacture the entire system – including the MicroVAX Information Processor – in Twinsburg, Ohio; it will also be responsible for marketing and distribution, with DEC receiving royalties on a per unit basis. Allen-Bradley says that the Pyramid Integrator – to be released in the second quarter of 1989 – will replace current integration methods whereby manufacturers must use connections through a variety of interface products and customised software. The two companies will continue to co operate on the project, and hope to make it Manufacturing Automation Protocol-compatible by the end of the decade. The two US giants estimate that the computer integrated manufacturing market will be worth $16bn in 1989 – UKP600m in the UK – and Allen Bradley sees the Pyramid as an opportunity to diversify from its traditionally strong area of applications at the factory floor, control level into higher informat ion levels – DEC’s home territory; the two companies are hoping for early orders for the system from large automotive, petrochemical and food and beverage companies, both in the US and Europe.