IPP&T Magazine Online

Advances in automation software are revolutionizing manufacturing

April 13, 2021   Don Horne




Schneider Electric has released version 21.1 of EcoStruxure Automation Expert, its software-centric universal automation system, and the adoption of new technology like this is proving immediately beneficial for the food process manufacturing sector.

“EcoStruxure Automation Expert v21.1 is an important milestone in our journey to help manufacturers achieve the step-change advancements possible with a digital-first approach to industrial automation,” said Fabrice Jadot, senior vice president, next generation automation, Schneider Electric. “Today’s operations need to react quickly to fluctuating market and environmental dynamics and rapidly mitigate potential risks. By separating the hardware and software lifecycles, EcoStruxure Automation Expert enables automation applications to be built using asset-centric, portable, proven-in-use software components, independent of the underlying hardware infrastructure. This software-centric approach delivers unprecedented cost and performance gains and frees engineers to innovate by automating low-value work and eliminating task duplication across tools.”

GEA is one of the largest technology suppliers for food processing and a wide range of other industries. The company focuses on technologies, components, and sustainable solutions for sophisticated production processes in diverse end-user markets where time to market and agility is essential. EcoStruxure Automation Expert greatly simplifies the integration between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) creating new agility for GEA and its customers.

“Bringing IT and OT together is our vision at GEA, and EcoStruxure Automation Expert is helping us deliver what we promise to our customers,” said Matthias Wiemann, head of automation and controls – software BU separators, GEA. “Working together on these projects with Schneider Electric and EcoStruxure Automation Expert provides us with the faster time-to-market and flexibility that critical industries like food and beverage and pharmaceuticals need.”

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Master Systèmes, an industrial automation system integrator and Schneider Electric Master Alliance partner, is using EcoStruxure Automation Expert to increase the agility and flexibility of one of its cosmetic customer plants.

“EcoStruxure Automation Expert allows us to modernize legacy automation systems to an Industry 4.0 solution in a managed, low risk and agile way,” said Maurice Re, director of automation, Master Systèmes. “This is a game-changer for us. EcoStruxure Automation Expert’s advanced engineering tools will help us reduce the time to develop an application and supports easy integration of IT technologies, including predictive maintenance. This translates into faster time to market with an easier to maintain solution for our customers.”

Schneider Electric is also implementing EcoStruxure Automation Expert in its own Smart Distribution Centre in Shanghai, China to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Because the software is decoupled from the hardware, modifying the conveying line to adapt as flow requirements change is easier and more cost-effective. With EcoStruxure Automation Expert, identifying the root cause of failure and troubleshooting is four times faster. And with 45 per cent less products on the error line, throughput is increased by 5.3 per cent.

“EcoStruxure Automation Expert provides a smooth integration of third-party software so now we can seamlessly adapt our operations by reconfiguring our processes to increase throughput,” said Mourad Tamoud, chief supply chain officer, Schneider Electric. “Having a holistic view across the full system using one single point of reference increases our maintenance efficiency through faster failure identification and response in our Shanghai Smart Distribution Centre.”

Next-generation technology

Among other advancements, EcoStruxure Automation Expert V21.1 includes: enhanced cybersecurity, diagnostics, discovery and commissioning features, and expanded libraries and language support.

In addition, improved integration with AVEVA System Platform ensures EcoStruxure Automation Expert customers can take advantage of AVEVA’s market leading software for supervisory, enterprise SCADA, MES, and IIoT applications with minimal engineering overhead. One study showed the EcoStruxure Automation Expert and AVEVA combination reduced engineering efforts by over 50 per cent.

Universal automation is the world of plug and produce automation software components enabled by the IEC61499 standard.

“EcoStruxure Automation Expert is changing the game for industrial automation and demonstrates Schneider Electric’s commitment to universal automation,” said Jadot. “We continue to invite industrial developers everywhere to create their own software components and solutions based on the IEC61499 standard, which can easily interoperate with EcoStruxure Automation Expert.”


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