Cybersecurity, Asset Performance Management Headline Schneider Info at ARC Forum

Cybersecurity, Asset Performance Management Headline Schneider Info at ARC Forum

Cybersecurity, digitalization, and asset performance management headlined the various press events with Schneider Electric at the recent ARC Forum. I took notes from Kim Cousteau’s presentation on APM at the main press conference and expected a follow up press release for details. I have not received one yet.

Remember the “reverse acquisition” of Aveva where Schneider Electric placed all of its software divisions into Aveva and then took a 60% share in the company? The deal is about to close. Schneider spokespeople assured me that digitalization is proceeding apace with the leveraging of Aveva design through construction applications into operations and maintenance applications—Schneider’s strong suit. This, on paper, brings the company into the competitive marketplace with Siemens and its UGS acquisition of several years ago. This is an interesting area to watch.

Schneider called a special press event, with lunch, to talk specifically about cybersecurity. This response to an incident in which the company’s Triconex safety system earned some publicity—but not always accurately portrayed. The incident was a cyber attack that caused a situation that the safety system caught and initiated a safe shut down.

However, the event caused renewed concern for cyber defense. ARC Vice President, Larry O’Brien, said, “This is a wake up call for people to follow existing security standards.” Gary Freburger, who heads that division of Schneider, said, “It’s everybody’s job.”

We received this official statement from Peter Martin, vice president of business innovation and marketing, Schneider Electric

At Schneider Electric, we heartily encourage all collaborative efforts to strengthen cybersecurity. The growing problem of cybersecurity is not specific to any single company, institution or country. Rather, it’s a threat to business and public safety that can only be addressed and resolved when suppliers, customers, integrators, developers, standards bodies and government agencies work together. This collaboration starts with common standards, agreed-upon rules, appropriate funding and active cooperation. It extends beyond national borders and transcends competitive interests.

Schneider Electric continues to work diligently with our customers, partners, developers and industry peers to make the shift from reactive to proactive cybersecurity management through compliance with evolving industry standards, agreement that cybersecurity is a journey not a destination, and a commitment to standing together in the face of cyber threats.

Today, we commend the signatories to the “Charter of Trust.” It’s another important step toward ensuring that the promise of digital transformation and automation will prevail over the threat of cyberterrorism.

Regarding APM, Kim Cousteau discussed a new release of Avantis that expanded machine learning from the power industry to oil & gas. For maintenance, it incorporates a team system for operator rounds and improved workflow. It incorporates augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) “because workers are so new and need help to get up to speed. Look for updated analytics to aid in catching anomalies ahead of failure. She cited a customer who has been tracking savings from this feature alone and is up to $65 million.

Add Profit Control To Your Process Control

Add Profit Control To Your Process Control

A long-time dream of enabling operators to see the profit impacts of process changes is a giant step closer to reality.

Much of my early career involved the intersection of engineering and profitability. No surprise that I valued my conversations with Peter Martin over the years. He has long been a proponent of just such technology and workflow.

Now at Schneider Electric (but still Foxboro), he has an organizational stability that may get the job done. Enter “EcoStruxure Profit Advisor.”

Developed through a partnership with Seeq, a leading provider of software and services that enable data-driven decision making, EcoStruxure Profit Advisor uses Big Data analytics to measure the financial performance of an industrial operation in real time, from the equipment asset level of a plant up to the process unit, plant area, plant site and enterprise levels. On-premise or cloud-enabled, it works seamlessly with any process historian to mine both historical and real-time data. It then processes that data through Schneider Electric’s proprietary segment-specific accounting algorithms to determine real-time operational profitability and potential savings.

Controlling Business Variables in Real Time

“While many companies are getting really good at controlling the efficiency of their operations in real time, they’re still managing their business month to month. That just doesn’t work anymore,” said Peter Martin, vice president of innovation, Schneider Electric Process Automation. “Business variables are changing so quickly—sometimes by the minute—that by the time companies receive updates from whatever enterprise resource planning systems they use, the information is no longer relevant to the business decisions they need to make or should have made. If they want to change the game, they need to control their other real-time business variables, including their safety, their reliability and especially their operational profitability. Profit Advisor allows them to do that.”

Because current cost accounting systems only measure the financial performance of the industrial operation at the overall plant level, it is difficult for companies to truly understand the financial impact—positive and negative—operational changes have on business performance. To address that need, Profit Advisor allows plant personnel to see and understand the ROI and business value their actions, activities and assets are contributing to the business in real time. It empowers the workforce to make better business decisions with a variety of data analytics, which can be displayed in various formats, to help drive operational profitability improvements, safely.

Innovating at Every Level to Deliver Value-focused IIoT

“Our customers are struggling with many issues, including the sheer speed of business and how to manage and use emerging technology to their advantage,” said Chris Lyden, senior vice president, Process Automation, Schneider Electric. “Everyone wants to talk about all this new technology without focusing on what value it can deliver. From our perspective, the digitization of industry is a real opportunity for our customers. We’re taking a value-focused approach to IIoT because we know our ability to innovate at every level can help our customers control their productivity and profitability in real time. That’s the only reason we should be talking about IIoT to begin with.”

Profit Advisor layers real-time accounting models onto the Seeq Workbench to become a scalable, repeatable and easy-to-implement solution for multiple segments, enabling customers to both measure and control their profitability. And because it can be integrated with Schneider Electric’s simulation and modelling software in a digital twin environment, users are further enabled to forecast profitability under different conditions or if changes to the operation are made.

Overall, the software provides

  1. Historical Data Review: Profit Advisor can evaluate the historical performance of the plant to assess its operational profitability, helping plant personnel analyze and understand how the
    operation performed during different conditions. It enables the workforce to identify true performance-improving initiatives. And since it can be tied to individual pieces of equipment, it can provide that information down to even the smallest asset in the operation.
  2. Real Time Performance Indication: Profit Advisor can indicate current performance and inform plant personnel when their operating decisions are making the business more profitable. Actual ROI and return on improvements will be visible, enabling plant personnel to concentrate and refine their efforts to the actions that provide the greatest financial returns. It also enables plant personnel to determine which parts of operation are constraining operational profitability and accurately estimate the business value their decisions might actually create.
  3. Profit Planning: Profit Advisor empowers process engineers to predict the profitability of the changes they are proposing, which will substantially minimize project risk and help to eliminate waste.

Check out this YouTube video.

Control Advisor

Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, has added a new enterprise-wide IIoT plant performance and control optimization software to its PES and Foxboro Evo process automation systems and Foxboro I/A Series distributed control system. Leveraging Expertune PlantTriage technology, EcoStruxure ControlAdvisor, a native smart decision-support tool, provides plant personnel actionable real-time operating data and predictive analytics capabilities so they can monitor and adjust every control loop across
multiple plants and global sites 24/7. The software empowers them to optimize the real-time efficiency of the process throughout the plant lifecycle and to contribute directly to improved business

People, Connections, Technology—Schneider Automation Conference

People, Connections, Technology—Schneider Automation Conference

Freberger 0415Day 2, or my first full day in Dallas at the 2015 Schneider Electric Global Automation conference, was packed with sessions, meetings, and dinner.

Keynotes at a user conference are always a mixed bag. Usually there is a well-known author or leader to give a motivational message. Usually the CEO gives a state-of-the-company address. And then there are product announcements.

Gary Freberger, who leads the automation business, gave just a short update mostly dwelling on the market size of the business that resulted from combining the Foxboro/Triconex process automation business with the Modicon business that already existed within Schneider. Schneider Electric now has far more market clout than before. My take is that this could have a subtle change in industry dynamics in the future.

Connection and Behavior Change

Koulopoulos 0415Tom Koulopoulos, chairman and founder of Delphi Group, a Boston-based think tank, gave the “author/leader/motivational” keynote. He was also promoting his new book, The Gen Z Effect. Like many technologist speakers I’ve heard, he watches his kids and extrapolates to the entire generation.

However, he left us with two very important thoughts. First, it’s not about the technology. It’s about changing behaviors. And those of us who have implemented automation in our lives know that unless it changes the behaviors of the operators, it will not work.

The second thought is that beyond human behavior, it’s about connections. He posits that connections have brought us to this point over the last 300 years and connections will take us forward.

Then he left us with a little flow chart of what is happening:

Real-time analytics–>Predictive analytics–>Business Intelligence

This really does reflect where we are moving with Industrial Internet of Things and contemporary manufacturing strategy.

Solve World Hunger

Martin 0415Peter Martin, Schneider vice president (and one of several visionaries), always presents well. This year his presentation was better than usual. There were essentially two main points—let’s go back to our roots as control engineers while expanding the scope of what we’re controlling, and let’s recognize the value of control engineers and be aware of what we can contribute to the world.

He began by discussing an early science project which had way too large of a scope. The teach kept saying, “Peter, don’t try to solve world hunger.”

Well…fast forward to today. Martin also left us with a little flow chart of sorts:

Use our control expertise to solve problems of energy generation and transmission –>

Half-a-million children die each year due to tainted water; desalination is an energy problem; solve energy problem leads to solving water problem –>

If we can build a PGA golf course in Dubai through solving the water problem, we can build gardens in Africa. So we could solve world hunger –>

We can also solve environment by solving energy. In India, a petrochemical plant grew a mango forest to absorb carbons –>

Solve environment problem leads to solving world health.

I have known Peter for more than 10 years. One of his consistent themes is that engineers are undervalued—and they often under value themselves.

By golly, we could solve world hunger. We could miss the opportunity of a lifetime by thinking too narrowly.

Our day jobs

Automation is the platform upon which we build control. We need to do a few things.

Plants organize with an asset topology. Automation uses a technological topology. We need to reduce the complexity of the automation topology and make it align better with the plant topology. But the installed base is an anchor holding us back. “So, migration becomes really exciting.”

By enabling personalized automation, we no longer eliminate people. We begin to use people to their fullest extent. Forget the lights-out industry talk.

“Have we pushed the limits of control to the furthest extent? We have a long way to go. Discipline of control engineering is just beginning. We must improve efficiency in a safe manner. Business has shifted from highly transactional to real-time. And historically we have separated plant floor from business. Business results get to operations too late to react. We have moved to a real-time control problem because the time constraints of business have shrunk. We need real-time business control as well as real-time process control.”

“I’ve been told that the age of the control engineer is over; No, the age of the control engineer is just beginning. We’ve just changed what we’re controlling. Look at maintenance, asset performance, reliability, it’s all changing in real-time. If we measure in real time and apply real-time control, then we can manage it. Efficiency, reliability, profitability, security, safety, environment. And forget calling people ‘labor,’ but instead call them ‘production managers’ for that is what they really are. Let’s just enable them.”

Martin concluded, “Challenge us to create value-driven innovation across all domains. Keep our eye on our value.”

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