What on Earth is Prometheus?

By Mark Delfunt, Director, InSource Solutions

Imagine a future where you can build complete process automation capabilities with the same high level tools and libraries you use today to build your HMI (Human Machine Interfaces), MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) and process Historians. Now imagine that when you first built your system, you used Rockwell controllers but now you’ve decided to switch to Siemens or Schneider controllers and all you do is re-download the process logic you created to the new controller without any re-write!

Hard to imagine, right? That’s because we live in a world where process logic is not generic – it’s specific to the manufacture of the PLC or DCS we choose. And if we change them, we have to go back to the beginning and start over. This is a huge labor burden creating significant engineering costs—usually causing users to feel handcuffed for years.

Wonderware’s new Prometheus product makes this a reality today! No – it’s not magic. Rather, it’s an innovative development tool that allows you to define process logic with high-level tools containing user libraries that you drag and drop onto the canvas, connect the lines, and download to the controller you choose. And, the same tools allow you to define the Wonderware objects for your HMI, MES, Historian, etc. without having to build relationships between the controller and the industrial IT system.

When fully mature, process engineers (not programmers) will be able to drag and drop objects representing pre-defined equipment and processes from their plants, containing logic, the security, the user interface, integration points to the ERP, and so on – onto the canvas and tell it to download and run. Does the process care whether it’s a ControLogix or S7 PLC? No – who cares? I mean – we care now because we have to. We have no choice because we have to develop all that logic in the specific programming language for the controller we’ve purchased. Prometheus offers us a vision of a world where those concerns will be a thing of the past.

While this will shock many, Prometheus allows you to download that same process logic into a $30 Raspberry Pi connected to I/O purchased from Amazon! Many will not identify with the idea of running your process on a Raspberry Pi but others do—and are already. We’re not trying to convince you which one to use, we’re saying “we don’t care;” design your system once and run it on a series of different control platforms as the circumstances dictate. By the way, the concept is not entirely new; the idea has been out there for many years but has never been mainstreamed until now.

So that’s the vision and promise for Prometheus; a development tool that will allow production and process engineers to contribute and build their systems alongside our engineering and IT buddies without a care for what hardware is beneath it or a need for specialized programming skills. Building and automating our processes without programming? Yes—our community is ready for such a tool as this and Prometheus promises to help.

If you’d like to take a sneak peak at Prometheus functionality, click here and register for a 30-minute free training session.