The value of analytics as a strategy to realise profit in process operations

Rockwell Automation PlantPAx® 5.0 DCS improves productivity, drives profitability, and reduces risk

The value of analytics as a strategy to realise profit in process operations The value of analytics as a strategy to realise profit in process operations The value of analytics as a strategy to realise profit in process operations The value of analytics as a strategy to realise profit in process operations The value of analytics as a strategy to realise profit in process operations


Rockwell Automation is enhancing the efficiency, reliability, and cybersecurity of connected mining operations with its latest iteration of the PlantPAx distributed control system (DCS).

"PlantPAx DCS technology has enabled miners to improve uptime, optimise throughput, and reduce variability," said Steven Clohessy, South Pacific software and control lead, Rockwell Automation, "The technology has been used to help combat sustainability issues by better managing reagent, energy, and water usage."

Besides helping to increase plant performance, the PlantPAx system can reduce average time to repair through integrated alarming functionality, automatic diagnostics capability and enhanced plantwide system visibility.

"Mining end users recognise the value of analytics as an essential strategy to realise profit in their process operations," continued Clohessy.

The PlantPAx system has purpose-built frameworks that easily connect live and historical data from the plant into reporting, as well as analytical tools that use workflows aligned with the process strategies that control plant operations to enable extended experiences, such as augmented reality (AR). It allows for extensible and scalable analytic packages that leverage predictive and prescriptive models for process applications such as soft sensors, anomaly detection, or model predictive control.

The PlantPAx system is based on four core principles:

  • Plant-wide Control and Optimisation: The PlantPAx system uses a common automation platform for seamless integration between critical areas of a plant. Benefits include common platforms, seamless information flow, ease of management, and lower total cost of ownership.
  • Scalable and Modular Architecture: A wide range of architecture options for increased flexibility are provided with the PlantPAx system. This means easy integration without replicating data, faster time to market, and scalable system capabilities such as HMI, batch management and data collection.
  • Open, Information-enabled, and Secure: The PlantPAx system is based on open communication standards leveraging EtherNet/IP as its backbone. As a result, secure real-time information is readily available throughout the enterprise for better business decision-making.
  • Flexible Delivery and Support Network: Users can select the optimal implementation and support team based on their needs with a PlantPAx system, with the long-term confidence that the investment is protected with support from Rockwell Automation. 

Increased flexibility

The flexibility and scalability of the of the PlantPAx platform allows for several different configurations. The same platform can be used for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), process skids or large distributed architectures. For modular plants, with some pre-planning, multiple systems can be engineered and tested in different locations and brought together as one integrated control system.

"The functionality improves the overall effort to integrate the balance of plant and OEM packages into the process control layer and the enterprise as a whole. A characterised PlantPAx system with validated architectures that scale no matter the application size ensures predictable behaviour and provides a reduction of risk when designing, executing, and investing in a modern-day process control system," said Clohessy.

PlantPAx mining examples

PlantPAx has been used in a broad range of mining applications, where it has delivered benefits including:

  • New copper mine achieves KPIs: A new greenfield copper mine chose the PlantPAx DCS for its new copper in-situ leaching production facility, to ensure delivery on-time and on-budget. The site is projected to produce more than 2 billion pounds of copper in 24 years, or $175 million per year. With an initial cost of $69 million, the project will pay back within five years.
  • Gold miner reduces control system risk: A leading gold producer was able to improve plant control, visualisation and reporting capabilities with its mining solution using PlantPAx. Acknowledgement of alarms is user and time-stamped and logged, which protects operators from being reproached for ignoring essential warnings, while at the same time, improving accountability. This improves overall plant safety, especially at the mine, where cyanide alarms and other safety warnings are critical indicators.

PlantPAx benefits

Rockwell Automation's PlantPAx system is designed to help industrial producers positively impact plant operations across the full operational life.

Mining customers desire a system that offers the benefits of a modern experience without the burdens that come with a traditional DCS. The PlantPAx system innovates the modern DCS in the following areas:

  • Reduced Footprint: Dedicated process controllers extend the Logix family capabilities with cutting-edge processing power and capacity to reduce the complexity of PlantPAx architectures. This footprint reduction also reduces total cost of ownership of the system throughout the lifecycle.
  • Drives Consistency: With native process instructions embedded in the controllers, project teams can adopt approaches to control strategies that drive consistency for individual projects or multi-site deployments.
  • Streamlined Workflows: Development teams will realise savings in the configuration of instrumentations, alarms, and diagnostic system elements. Operators will have the extended ability to view underlying control logic in a safe and secured manner.
  • TÜV-Certified for Cybersecurity: To help mitigate risk, PlantPAx system architectures are TÜV certified to the international standard ISA-99/IEC 62443-3-3, which provides guidance on the implementation of an electronically secured system.
  • Analytics Enabled: The PlantPAx system has purpose-built frameworks that easily connect live and historical data from the DCS into reporting and analytical tools. This allows extended experiences, such as AR, and easy integration with scalable analytics packages.

The PlantPAx framework includes templates to assist with rapid deployment of the system. This includes prebuilt code generation libraries, virtualised workstation and server templates, and pre-validated architectures to simplify design and development.

"One of the core features is a library that is fully managed, maintained, and supported by Rockwell Automation. This allows for reduced implementation costs when putting the system together, as the control strategies and object libraries are provided out of the box with proven and validated functionality. By reducing the lifecycle cost of the system and lowering operational risks, we are continuing to find innovative ways to bring more value to end users," said Clohessy.

"The system is built for flexible delivery, and we encourage optimal implementation based on each application's specific needs. No matter where you are on the lifecycle journey of your mining operation, we can help guide you through it," he concluded.

Find out more about Rockwell's PlantPAx DCS, and how it can help your mining operation here.