Here is news from a press release I just received from Schneider Electric (which dubs itself the global specialist in energy management) which has introduced a unified supply chain management solution for the hydrocarbon processing industry.

This new product appears to be a major step on the road laid out at the old InFusion launch by Invensys in Boston several years ago. I knew that the vision was ambitious. The gradual release of products is not a surprise–except that it is releasing product just after acquisition by Schneider. That in itself is good news.

Built on its Spiral Suite platform, the new offering closes the value gaps left by poorly integrated legacy tools. By improving collaboration across the refinery, Spiral Suite software helps traders, planners and schedulers make reliable decisions, manage risks and ultimately increase profitability.

“Spiral Suite promises to transform the refinery business environment from being a place where hundreds of people work in isolation—not seeing or understanding how their bits of individual work contribute to the whole—to a place where workers first see and understand how their decisions impact others and then cooperate to collectively unlock the maximum value of their economic forecasts,” said Ravi Gopinath, Ph.D., executive vice president, Schneider Electric Global Solutions, Software Business. “It improves understanding and cooperation between traders, planners and schedulers and replaces several disjointed point solutions with a single, easy-to-use application.”

Spiral Suite users can contribute to and add value to one another’s decision making without the risk of overwriting data or causing downstream processing issues at the plant. Combined with powerful, intuitive visualizations, everyone is able to view, understand and respond to incidents. All refinery activities are supported within a single, highly intuitive environment, and accurate, up-to-date information is available across the business. Planners can see future scheduling constraints; schedulers can assess their decisions against commercial impact and operational feasibility. Users from different disciplines and locations are now able to work together effectively to create the most flexible, optimal plan for any set of circumstances, unlocking potential cost savings and margin improvements that could total millions of dollars each year.

According to Schneider, Spiral Suite’s SaaS deployment model, off-the-shelf integration and ease of use mean the application can be learned within days. Legacy point solutions can be replaced quickly and simply, without incurring the high cost of implementing or maintaining data transfer. Inadequate, unsupported integration bridges are removed, as is the need for application experts and extensive training courses, which lowers total cost of ownership. Data from in-house and external systems can be made available automatically within workflows, and people from across the business can work in parallel to build the supply chain model within weeks, without needing to know matrix math. [Gary’s note: This paragraph comes from the press release. There is no mention of how this happens. I’ll flesh out this information next week at the Schneider Software User Conference in Orlando.]

Spiral Suite takes advantage of the advanced features of modern processors, exploiting multi-core and cloud environments to generate results in seconds and then presenting them in a way everyone can understand. Users can explore the business and operational implications of millions of scenarios and receive real-time feedback on how their changes would impact the rest of the supply chain. Integral cargo tracking and assay management mean crude oil quality variations can be analyzed within minutes, rather than weeks, to swiftly assess their financial impact on the business, as well as any potential operational and reliability issues prior to purchase. The software also automatically reconciles all available data and performs backcasting to understand how and why there are deviations to the plan.

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