Schneider Electric has been publicizing an implementation of the decoupled control hardware and software envisioned by the Open Process Automation Forum using IEC 61499. https://themanufacturingconnection.com/2021/02/schneider-electric-updates-ecostruxure-automation-expert-forges-strategic-agreement-with-wood/ For example, a recent post from the blog.

At last week’s Hannover Messe, Schneider Electric used its press conference to tout some updates to its Ecostruxure Automation Expert.

The press release is included below for your information, plus a bonus press release regarding a new, smaller footprint UPS.

First, a couple of notes. I listened recently to some software developers discussing the benefits and drawbacks of version numbering their software. The traditional way is to begin with version 1.0  and then increment. Of course, no one (or few?) buy version 1.0 which is typically pretty buggy. An alternative is to version number by year thus avoiding the dreaded V 1.0. Automation Expert has just been released a couple of months ago as Version 21.0. The new release discussed below is version 21.1.

Someone, I know not whom, asked a pointed question during the press conference. Schneider points to its offering following the IEC standard. The questioner wanted to know if Automation Expert was just another proprietary software with some standards baked in. The question was not answered directly. The answer given dealt with decoupling hardware and software allowing each to be independently upgraded. Good question to keep in mind if other companies dive into this water. Or—perhaps there is room for an independent software developer to jump into the fray if and when.

Automation Expert V21.1 Release

Schneider Electric released version 21.1 of EcoStruxure Automation Expert, its software-centric universal automation system. Adoption of the new technology is proving immediately beneficial for consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceutical and logistics enterprises. 

“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.

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.

Schneider Electric is also implementing EcoStruxure Automation Expert in its own Smart Distribution Center 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% less products on the error line, throughput is increased by 5.3%.

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%.

New 3-phase UPS

Schneider Electric announced the global launch of the Galaxy VL 200-500 kW (400V/480V) 3-phase uninterruptible power supply (UPS), the newest addition to the Galaxy family. Available worldwide, this highly efficient, compact UPS offers up to 99-percent efficiency in ECOnversion mode for a full return on investment within two years (model dependent) for medium and large data centers and commercial and industrial facilities. A live, virtual “hands-on” event for data center professionals and partners will take place May 4 to demonstrate Galaxy VL’s capabilities and features from Schneider Electric’s Innovation Executive Briefing Center.

With data center floor space at a premium, the compact design of the Galaxy VL is half the size of the industry average at .8 m2. Its modular and scalable architecture enables data center professionals to scale power incrementally, from 200 kW to 500 kW with 50 kW power modules, providing flexibility to grow as their business demands.

With Galaxy VL, Schneider Electric introduces Live Swap, a pioneering feature which delivers a touch-safe design throughout the process of adding or replacing the power modules while the UPS is online and fully operational, offering enhanced business continuity and no unscheduled downtime. Additionally, Live Swap’s touch safe design offers increased protection for employees who no longer have to transfer the UPS to maintenance bypass or battery operation during the insertion or removal of the power modules.

Key Benefits of the new Galaxy VL:

  • Maximize space to enable future growth: Galaxy VL is the most compact in its class, 50-percent more compact than the industry average at.8 m2, freeing up valuable data center real estate and IT space. Additionally, Galaxy Lithium-ion Battery Cabinets deliver total space savings of up to 70 percent compared with VRLA battery solutions.1
  • Save money: Galaxy VL’s modular, scalable platform enables you to pay-as-you-grow, reducing CapEx investment, operating costs, energy consumption, and TCO. Scale power instantly in 50 kW increments from 200 to 500 kW with no extra footprint.
  • Reach sustainability goals: Up to 99-percent efficient in ECOnversion mode for a full return on investment within two years in energy savings (26,280 EUR annual electricity savings). A Schneider Electric Green Premium product, it includes the option for long-lasting Lithium-ion batteries.
  • Increased Reliability through EcoStruxure3By connecting Galaxy VL to EcoStruxure—Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform—data center operators can benefit from EcoStruxure™ IT software and services. These EcoStruxure offerings enable customers to monitor, manage, and model their IT infrastructure and get service support 24/7 anywhere, anytime.
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