Schneider Electric reveals vision of industry future

Schneider Electric

Monday, 07 June, 2021

Schneider Electric reveals vision of industry future

Digital transformation leader Schneider Electric is on a mission to make the industry of the future possible for all, introducing its Industries of the Future vision — an industry-wide call to action urging industrial enterprises to embrace universal automation, sustainable efficiency and digitalisation to boost global economic recovery and advance manufacturing and process industries.

With impressive sustainability credentials, the global manufacturer has an end-to-end network of smart factories and distribution centres, including three designated by The World Economic Forum as Advanced Lighthouses.

Schneider’s next-generation framework and winning formula for industrial settings is based on three core pillars: universal automation, sustainable efficiency and software-centric automation. Together, these create a firm foundation for protecting biodiversity and improving health and safety, while also enabling real-time data sharing and remote operations — resulting in step-change improvements in productivity and cost savings.

“As we strive to recover from the impact of the pandemic, improve productivity and drive sustainable agendas, industry has a golden opportunity to become a central pillar of global economic recovery,” Schneider Electric’s Executive Vice President of Industrial Automation Peter Herweck said.

“Industrial automation helps build stronger eco-efficiency and a more innovative and resilient ecosystem. Today’s industrial innovation is driven by powerful software and data analytics that increases both productivity and sustainability. With net zero factories now possible due to increased computational power and connectivity, as well as advanced digital supply chains, ecology and progress are no longer at the opposing ends of the environmental spectrum.”

Schneider Electric’s newest industrial solutions — including EcoStruxure Automation Expert, EcoStruxure Power and Process and EcoStruxure Plant Advisor — are based on its EcoStruxure platform, bringing the benefits of universal automation, sustainability and software to the market.

Universal automation

Schneider Electric has challenged industry to advance the underlying technology model to meet modern agility and resiliency demands. ‘Open automation’, as it exists today, is not open enough, as companies are bound by automation solutions that prioritise vendor lock-in rather than innovation. By contrast, ‘universal automation’ is the world of interoperable, ‘plug and produce’ automation software components, enabled by the IEC61499 standard.

Portable application software is an essential enabler for next-generation industries, capable of unlocking step-change improvements in efficiency and sustainability that were impossible a decade ago. EcoStruxure Automation Expert is Schneider Electric’s first offering based on the universal automation vision.

The benefits of universal automation are demonstrated by Schneider’s strategic relationship with Wood, a global leader in delivering automation solutions. The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding agreement to provide Wood’s automation and control group access to Schneider Electric’s IEC61499-based technology. This is helping Wood to deliver innovative automation solutions to its global energy and industrial customers.

Sustainable efficiency

As the pathway to net-zero factories protecting biodiversity, empowering workers and improving productivity, Schneider Electric has called on manufacturing and process industries to approach production with a sustainable mindset. According to BloombergNEF, industrial digitisation supports corporate sustainability, promotes decarbonisation and circularity, reduces material waste, prolongs equipment lifetime and enables better emissions monitoring. EcoStruxure Power and Process empowers manufacturers to drive sustainability across the world’s most energy-intensive sites. Using industry-leading software from AVEVA and Schneider Electric, users can connect assets across the full lifecycle, resulting in one real-time view of projects and/or operations.

By embracing innovative technologies alongside achievable sustainability goals, companies can easily accommodate new business opportunities while also conserving energy and safeguarding the natural environment. For example, Schneider Electric helped Argentina’s largest refinery develop and easily integrate the smallest footprint solution in the market for continuous energy improvement.

Software-centric automation

Faced with the continuing disruption of the pandemic and ever-changing customer requirements, Schneider Electric has underlined the importance of software. EcoStruxure Plant Advisor is the next evolution of the company’s IIoT digital plant management. Based on results from pilot projects, EcoStruxure Plant Advisor could generate up to €2.8 million/year of improvements for a typical €100 million manufacturing site.

Tomorrow’s challenges will not be addressed with new hardware but will require the intelligent application of software-based technologies. This digital paradigm has the potential to provide unprecedented operational capabilities and support new business opportunities for all industrial stakeholders.

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