Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Foxboro and Triconex looks to be on the path to health under Schneider Electric. Its annual user conference is this week in San Antonio. I‘d love to be there, but personally more important is “grandparent duty” that I’m on this week. So, I had the opportunity to talk with Gary Freburger, leader of the group, and Peter Martin, VP of marketing, to get an update and view of what I’ll be missing.

Gary Freburger began with the market rebounding due to current oil pricing. Business is starting to get strong. IA product line has done well and the process business also did well going up 6% in the first half of the year. He’s expecting majority of growth over the next two years. Schneider Electric is still investing around EcoStruxure system. Foxboro is continuing on the path they discussed with us at the last user conference—how to get more value from control systems going from “necessary evil” to value add in the eyes of customer executives. The strategy is to turn data and connectivity into a business driver. The goal is enabling better decisions and improving profitability.

Freburger discussed cooperating with OPAF for a comprehensive strategy. Then he dropped in an interesting tidbit—cooperation with AVEVA. I’ve wondered about how AVEVA with the inclusion of previous Schneider Electric software would work with the Foxboro side of things. He told me they now have and end-to-end relationship to improve time to market. He noted as oil prices dropped customers thought “what can I afford to do?” Now, all have reset expectations. As oil prices rebound, they have not changed expectations. Some interesting applications and strategies include AVEVA auto populate control system, digital twin of facility, operations feedback our systems to AVEVA’s, then customer asset management upgrade works easier.

Martin discussed how Schneider is trying to change the question—from how to do control to how do we help customers solve problems that impact business? He pointed out that they’ve been doing digitization for years. What’s new is how to drive this new approach. 40 years ago controls was a solution-driven business; then with digitization the industry went from solutions to technology-driven. The times now require a need to flip flop. Solutions oriented but with today’s portfolios taking it to a much higher level. The speed of industrial business has increased—what was stable, e.g. cost of electricity—is stable no longer. The speed means IT world can’t keep up. Built-in real-time accounting control helps plants go beyond control to profitability. Foxboro is still dedicated to taking the use of technology to the next level.

During the conference (while I am writing from the forests in southern Ohio while the grandkids are in bed), Schneider Electric announced the release of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1.With expanded capabilities and an enhanced HMI, the updated software simplifies engineering and enhances the user experience, while expanding the ability of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS to drive measurable operational profitability improvements, safely.

The EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS is an open, interoperable and future-proof process automation system that provides highly accurate and effective control over a manufacturing plant’s operational profitability. It is the only process control system that provides measurable operational profitability improvements and a future-proof architecture, enabling a measurable 100 percent ROI in less than one year.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. This includes Connected Products, Edge Control, and Apps, Analytics and Services. EcoStruxure has been deployed in 480,000+ sites, with the support of 20,000+ system integrators and developers, connecting over 1.6 million assets under management through 40+ digital services.

EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 runs on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, to provide maximum flexibility while ensuring robust cybersecurity. When planning upgrades, Schneider Electric customers can mix Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10 on the same system, allowing flexibility in scheduling and timing for upgrades. Customers can upgrade individual sections of the plant in any order, at any pace, to best accommodate plant production schedules. With Microsoft support for Windows 7 due to end in 2020, transitioning to Windows 10 allows EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS customers to benefit from the strongest operating system with the most up-to-date cybersecurity features.

Among other new and updated features, the continuously current EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 now includes:

• EcoStruxure Field Device Expert that improves efficiency, safety and profitability, while considerably reducing time for startup and restarts. It includes:

◦ Intelligent Commissioning Wizard, to reduce commissioning time up to 75 percent by automating HART device commissioning and documentation processes.

◦ Device Replacement Wizard to significantly reduce time and expertise to replace or commission HART devices, either individually or in bulk.

◦ Bundled HART DD library for increased security, faster device deployment, eradication of version mismatch and elimination of cybersecurity risks previously created by moving documents from the HART consortium web page into the system.

• New HMI Bulk Graphics Editor for increased operational efficiency and reliability by greatly reducing engineering hours and improving quality during testing. Use in major projects shows that replicating hundreds of displays with the new Bulk Graphics Editor saves months of man hours and improves quality by delivering highly predictable results. The Bulk Graphics Editor makes migrating from the classic FoxView HMI to the new Foxboro DCS Control HMI easier, requiring far fewer engineering hours, which reduces the time and cost to transition between technologies.

• Control Editors Activity Monitor for increased efficiency by improving communication, workflow and collaboration.

• Real-time asset health condition monitoring for increased reliability.

• Future-proof technology supporting the latest FTD 2.0 standard, which improves compatibility with digitized field devices from Schneider Electric and third-party vendors.

• New migration path, along with the new HMI Bulk Graphics Editor, simplifies the transition from existing FoxView HMI displays to the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 HMI platform for a continuously current and future-proof system. An upgrade migration path is available from previous Control Software Versions 5.x, 6.x and 7.0. After upgrading, users can tap into newer technologies that improve productivity, cybersecurity, efficiency and profitability.

Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Schneider Electric Foxboro Products Offer Enhanced Visibility Into Plant Profitability

Using technology to help plant managers and plant teams make their plants more profitable. In fact, they can even track and prove their profitability enhancements.

The Foxboro User Group met this week in Foxborough, MA at the company headquarters. Aside from the opportunity to meet with a number of company executives for in-depth discussions, there were two significant news releases. And, by the way, Foxboro claims a 100% return on investment with its new DCS in less than a year.

Why it’s important: This signals the culmination of a lot of strategic thinking at Foxboro about helping operators and others in a plant make decisions based on profitability as well as operating parameters.

First the new DCS.

Schneider Electric has improved the capabilities of its EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, the company’s flagship distributed control system. EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled, open and interoperable system architecture and platform.

With patented, customizable real-time accounting (RTA) models built in, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS not only allows the industrial workforce to evaluate the real-time financial performance of an industrial operation directly at the equipment asset level, it also empowers them to more easily identify the impact their actions and decisions have on the profitability of the operations they control. The RTA models can be manipulated and adapted to suit a variety of industrial operations across multiple segments, enabling a wide range of customers to reap far more value from their existing systems.

“For the most part, by the time business managers receive their monthly updates from whatever enterprise resource planning systems they use, the information is no longer relevant to the operational business decisions they need to make, or should have made,” said Peter Martin, vice president, Innovation and Marketing, Process Automation, Schneider Electric. “The EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS breaks the mold because our RTA models help control value asset to asset, all the way up the enterprise. By aligning process control with the hierarchy of the plant, we can provide far more visibility into the financial performance of every plant asset and asset set. That allows plant personnel to understand the impact their decisions have on the business and business leaders to understand the impact their decisions have on the operation, in real time.”

Along with the RTA models, the continuously current EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS features high-capacity, high-availability control processors; more powerful, fit-for-purpose I/O; intuitive, role-based engineering tools; and enterprise-wide analytical tools and capabilities. Additionally, its hardened cybersecure design and secure integration with the company’s market-leading Triconex safety systems protect the facility’s critical assets and allow for continuous production. Moreover, its automated, enterprise-wide, real-time condition monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities minimize unplanned shutdowns, maximize uptime and lower maintenance costs by 30 percent or more.

EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS works in tandem with EcoStruxure Profit Advisor, Schneider Electric’s new software solution that applies the company’s RTA models to help the industrial workforce diagnose and analyze the profitability of processes throughout the plant. Whereas EcoStruxure Profit Advisor connects to any process historian to mine both historical and real-time data, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS takes the next step by building the algorithms into the process controllers themselves, thereby extending real-time accounting capabilities to every point in the process.

Maintenance Advisor

Of great interest to maintenance and reliability organizations, but also plant managers, is the improved Maintenance Advisor and Condition Advisor. Working in tandem, these bring information from the field relative to the condition of assets. This information can be used for information or integrated into workflow for actions.

The company’s new EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor software, with embedded EcoStruxure Condition Advisor, bridges the gap between operations and maintenance, providing predictive maintenance and decision support for plant-wide assets.

Delivered in a single unified dashboard, EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor monitors the real-time health of plant-wide assets to detect abnormal operating conditions. It then automatically provides actionable, easy-to-understand alerts with the proper context, along with potential reasons for the abnormal condition and possible actions to rectify it.
New EcoStruxure Condition Advisor for OPC DA enables real-time, automated condition monitoring of any OPC DA-compliant asset, such as intelligent electronic devices, motor starters and drives. This new capability complements existing Condition Advisors, which monitor the condition of Fieldbus Foundation, HART and Profibus process instruments.


Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Siemens User Conference Highlights Connectivity, Visibility

Siemens Automation held its annual Users Conference the end of June at the Boca Raton Resort in Florida. Digitalization comprised the underlying theme, however connectivity technologies highlighted the important announcements and discussions.

MindSphere holds the top place as the most important Siemens technology at this time. Users and Siemens professionals highlighted two use cases at the conference both centering on condition monitoring / predictive maintenance.

The other connectivity announcement concerned PCS 7, the Siemens DCS. The company unveiled new I/O featuring Profinet connectivity. The new, denser I/O includes a user-configurable product, as well as traditional digital and analog modules. Ethernet connectivity featuring Profinet held center stage in the press announcement.

Siemens introduced MindSphere to me at Hannover 2016. Its evolution has been swift. Now dubbed an Internet of Things platform, it includes a set of APIs and libraries. It includes an “App Store” open to 3rd party developers in addition to Siemens apps. If you are a developer, just register and app and pay a royalty based on data or connections.

MindSphere placed in context is similar to what I’ve seen from Cisco, Dell EMC, GE, Microsoft, and SAP. I’m sure there are more and that we’ll see more in the future. Dell EMC’s platform is open source. MIMOSA, an industry standards organization provides a similar platform called the OIIE based on standards containing no proprietary components.

All of these platforms are important for maintenance and reliability professionals, as well as for plant management, engineering, and operations because of the increased data and visibility into operations and assets. This will result in improved planning, more efficient operations, and increased percentage of uptime.

Components of the platform include:
• MindSphere Apps – Siemens and 3rd party ; data analytics
• MindSphere Sphere – Azure, SAP, AWS, etc.
• MindSphere Connect – open standards, right now OPC UA, gateway, integrated with S7, build your own connectivity



Internet of Things Platform Comes to Maintenance Management

Internet of Things Platform Comes to Maintenance Management

I returned from Hannover with a notebook filled with Internet of Things platform notes. Then I attend a teleconference press conference last week—and here is Internet of Things meets Maintenance Management. (OK, sounds like a B movie title, but it’s actually cool.)

Fluke acquired eMaint late last year and last week unveiled the fruit of that union. Fluke has been diligently working to connect its wide product line to the Internet (see this video podcast, for example). This announcement takes connection to the cloud.

Fluke Accelix (Accelix) is an open, cloud platform that connects maintenance software, equipment, and critical plant systems. Accelix integrates Fluke’s portfolio of wireless tools and condition monitoring sensors to eMaint, Fluke’s leading SaaS CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), and shares information with enterprise solutions of choice.

Accelix will help maintenance teams access the benefit of connected equipment, tools, measurement data and software systems by eliminating common barriers many customers face to implementing a comprehensive, affordable reliability program.

“The latest trends in maintenance solutions make great promises, yet are often too expensive and time-consuming for most organizations to implement, especially on second- and third-tier equipment,” said Brian Samelson, Fluke’s President of Digital Systems. Mr. Samelson continues, “This means that an overwhelming amount of maintenance activity happens in a black hole. Accelix solves this prevalent problem with a combination of familiar and trusted tools that connect seamlessly and are cost-effective to implement. We have removed the barriers that often separate the promise of advanced technologies from the reality of most maintenance and reliability professionals, for virtually any size operation.”

“Maintenance managers are constantly looking for opportunities to improve productivity, lower costs, and save time. This is increasingly important as teams have fewer resources to do the same job, and they need better insights into resource allocation and asset health,” said Paul de la Port, President of the Industrial Group at Fluke. “Industry data proves when managers can monitor machine health they allocate their teams more effectively and prevent serious problems from happening – all while improving safety, productivity, and uptime. In the end, equipment life is extended and savings are quantified; we believe this value proposition is sought by maintenance professionals everywhere.”

Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

OSIsoft Announces Internet of Things Gateway Support and a Digital Marketplace

Digital Transformation and Internet of Things were prominent at this week’s user conference. I could be in San Francisco at the OSIsoft user conference. But, no, I’m in Detroit at a different one. However, we have two news items from the conference.

The first one is Marketplace, an online collection of software and hardware solutions for accelerating digital transformation for the industrial world. It links utilities, energy companies, manufacturers, food and beverage producers, and other industrial customers with the 300+ hardware, software, and integration partners in the OSIsoft Partner EcoSphere as well as the 2600 third-party developers in the PI Developers Club.

On Marketplace, customers can discover and compare leading solutions for the Internet of Things, predictive analytics and machine learning, reducing asset downtime, data visualization and cloud-based analytics. Customers can also engage specialists for remote asset and process monitoring, condition-based maintenance, and performance benchmarking.

“Industrial transformation is one of the largest, and most challenging, economic opportunities of our time. Marketplace will help our customers extend the value of their existing investments while laying the groundwork for new digital services,” said Martin Otterson, Senior Vice President of Customer Success at OSIsoft. “With Marketplace, customers will be able to connect with companies and service providers with deep experience in their fields and accelerate their journey for digital transformation.”

OSIsoft Marketplace participants and solutions include:

  • National Instruments (NI) provides LabVIEW system design software and NI InsightCM Enterprise software for condition monitoring, which can bidirectionally communicate with the PI System
  • Rockwell Automation, which integrates the PI System into its FactoryTalk platform, making it easy to aggregate plant automation data across the enterprise for real-time insights
  • Power Factors, providing high-quality, independent performance data for renewable energy, which allows owners and operators to standardize across their diverse portfolios and drive improvements in the physical and financial performance of their assets.
  • Element Analytics, an advanced industrial analytics software company that rapidly builds Asset Frameworks through software and empowers organizations to achieve new levels of operational performance, by rapidly turning data into actionable reliability, productivity, and sustainability insights.
  • eVision Industry Software creates best-in-class Control of Work software. Innovative solutions that improve the way oil, gas, chemical and other hazardous industries operate on a global and local scale. eVision’s integration with the PI System provides users with real-time situational awareness, from permit draft to control room.

The OSIsoft partner EcoSphere helps customers maximize the value of their PI System infrastructure. Over 300 companies are official members of the OSIsoft Partner Ecosphere. In addition to the Marketplace, the Partner EcoSphere provides accreditation and specialization programs to recognize individuals from partner companies who have completed comprehensive technical training requirements. Globally, 250 people from more than 40 partner companies are accredited PI System specialists.

Industrial Internet of Things

The second announcement concerns collaboration with partners such as Advantech/B+B SmartWorx, ADLink, Arrow and RtTech to encourage the development of new products and offerings that will deploy PI-based gateways, for example, to link facilities data to production data or enable pipeline companies to harvest data in remote locations.

“Our customers face a digital dilemma. They want to invest in new IIoT technology and begin to capture and analyze new sources of data. At the same time, they worry about incompatibilities or integration challenges that can outweigh the benefits,” said Otterson. “Through these partnerships we can eliminate these problems by ensuring that these new sources of data can be added to existing data infrastructures easily. Ultimately we want to make it easier for any authorized person to get insight into any device or process at any time.”

OSIsoft has prepared a software portfolio for edge gateway hardware providers and others that contain the necessary PI System technology to accelerate connectivity with remote and mobile assets, IIoT sensors and the PI System. With this combination of OSIsoft software and partner hardware technology, OSIsoft enables a host of partners including equipment suppliers, application providers and system integrators to quickly and easily create solutions at the edge.  This will allow customers to run the PI System closer to remote assets – transformers, gas compressor stations, distributed gas, electric and water meters, industrial vehicles, wind turbines – where the data can be stored, viewed, and analyzed, enabling robust data collection, faster decision making, and optimized network bandwidth utilization.

IIoT in Action

In addition, where existing control and monitoring systems cannot accommodate new sensors, or are too costly to upgrade, new streams of IIoT sensor-based data can be added in parallel to existing process data and viewed in a common interface.

As an early advocate of using the PI System for IIoT, RtTech is blazing the trail on what’s possible when combining these technologies. RtTech, for instance, is working with tissue manufacturers to instrument and monitor remote ‘log saws’ that cut lengthy tubes of paper into rolls of toilet paper or other consumables. Because of their isolation and age, the only option for monitoring their health was to rely on manual inspections with pencils and clipboards, or complex retrofits that are often cost prohibitive.

Using new edge gateway technology with integrated PI system technology, RtTech’s energy and reliability apps can now help with efficiency and energy savings on remote equipment.  As a result, customers now have operational insight into isolated equipment and can take corrective actions in real time.

“We’ve seen manufacturers reduce power consumption by 7%, increase asset availability by as much as 10% and improve event capture rates to 99% accuracy,” said Keith Flynn, President of RtTech. “By working with OSIsoft and using IIoT technology, we are pushing these same outcomes to remote operations and assets regardless of their location.  We want our customers to have the same insight and intelligence on all their equipment, local or remote.”

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