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PACSystems turns five

Five years ago today, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, unveiled the first programmable automation controller, PACSystems, at “An Evening of Imagination” in Chicago, Illinois.

PACSystems is built on open standards with a portable control engine, a single development tool and a universal engineering development environment.

“Back then, PACSystems was considered revolutionary,” said Bill Estep, Vice President of GE Fanuc’s Control Systems Business. “It represented a revolutionary change in the control industry, one that enabled control convergence rather than mere integration of disparate parts and pieces. With one engine, coupled with a single development tool, users could take advantage of a powerful engineering environment for multiple applications.

“Through this innovation,” Estep continued, “ GE Fanuc PACSystems family addressed major engineering and business issues such as high productivity and communications openness. This flexible technology has helped users boost the overall performance of their automation systems, reduce engineering costs, and significantly decrease concerns regarding short- and long-term migration and platform longevity.”

The acronym PAC was first coined in 2002 by Craig Resnick, Director of Research for ARC Advisory Group, as a way to help users of control hardware better define their needs and to give the leading control hardware vendors a term to more clearly communicate the capabilities of the their products. ARC is generally credited for popularizing the term within the manufacturing industry.

Since 2003, GE Fanuc has kept up a steady stream of innovations to the PACSystems family, introducing two distinct platforms — the PACSystems RX3i and RX7i — to ensure customers had the right capabilities to meet their needs. By combining new technology with existing hardware systems, the PACSystems family has provided a seamless migration path for users who have needed to upgrade their control platforms.

“We’ve had a very successful five years with this product family and we keep improving it year after year,” said Bill Black, GE Fanuc Controllers Product Manager.

“Manufacturers and OEMs make their controller selections based on factors which lead to the lowest total cost of ownership such as adherence to open industry standards, multi-discipline control functionality, and ease of integration,” said Craig Resnick, Research Director, ARC Advisory Group. “Manufacturers expect secure, reliable interoperability between their automation products and the rest of the their enterprise. However, the tightest interoperability solution exists when automation comes from a single product versus multiple products, with a single programming and engineering tool with common tagging and a single database, which has led to the rapid growth of the PAC multi-disciplined controller and the success of GE Fanuc’s PACSystems over the past five years.

“Demand for PACs is projected to strengthen even further across all discrete, hybrid, and process industries,” Resnick continued, “as manufacturers and OEMs will increasingly specify and require PAC functionality for an ever growing number of applications.”

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