A recent report, released by market research firm ARC Advisory Group (ARC), estimates that adopting universal automation could save the industry up to $ 30 billion per year. In the same report, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure ™ Automation Expert solution, based on the principles of universal automation and the IEC 61499 standard, was recognized for its productivity, being “a highly productive and efficient control system design tool. effective. pioneer of a new era in which automation software will reach new levels of portability and hardware independence ”.
Universal automation and “plug and production” automation software components will transform software into a portable asset capable of driving efficiency, resilience, productivity, agility and sustainability of industrial operations, the report says.
The report also states that “a standardized system automation layer would be extremely valuable in economic terms.” For example, industry end users spend between $ 20 billion and $ 30 billion annually to maintain their facilities. A significant portion of this expense could be avoided through a standardized layer of automation, which would save a lot of engineering time by eliminating reliance on suppliers and opening the door to innovation. Standardization would allow engineers and technicians to focus on improving production and business rather than just rewriting code.
“By decoupling hardware and software in industrial environments, organizations will be able to automate and control the design and management of their operations in accordance with Industry 4.0. This is the gap that EcoStruxure Automation Expert, Schneider Electric’s innovative IEC 61499 development system, has come to fill, ”says Harry Forbes of ARC Advisory Group. “Combined with Schneider Electric’s vision and commitment and the value of open automation software, this solution represents a major step towards universal automation.”
Another recent study, “A Quantitative Comparison of Digitized Industrial Automation Systems,” shows EcoStruxure Automation Expert saves up to 68% engineering hours compared to current automation engineering systems. Savings that could amount to billions of dollars a year if applied to the entire industrial automation base and which, if you are talking about the entire plant life cycle, could be even more important.
Open automation pilot tests
The CRA report indicates that there are several industry initiatives aimed at advancing open automation software as well as the portability of industrial control applications. One of them is the Open Group Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), which seeks to define a highly standardized reference architecture for process automation systems. ExxonMobil provided the initial impetus for OPAF and is currently working on open automation in its own laboratories.
The pilot tests carried out predict potential CAPEX savings of up to $ 1 million per unit, and the OPEX savings could be even greater.
More progress and productivity
Schneider Electric is at the center of a decisive transformation for industrial operations, advocating for the widespread adoption of open industrial automation and the IEC 61499 standard. The ARC report considers this standard to be “a key software technology for defining and managing control system configurations ”because it allows commercial and open source products to work together. Universal automation will allow an industrial control system to be modeled and developed as a single integrated system, but deployed as a distributed system, thus boosting progress and productivity.
“Advances in machine learning, augmented reality, real-time analysis or IIoT hold great promise for industrial companies and producers to meet today’s demands,” says Fabrice Jadot , senior vice president, industrial automation incubator at Schneider Electric. “However, closed proprietary automation platforms make it difficult to deliver on these promises by stopping the adoption of best-in-class technologies, presenting challenges for integrating components from other vendors, and are costly to upgrade and to maintain. In the post-pandemic world, producers will need to be able to control and adapt their operations to the needs of the ever-changing market. The continuous and controlled adoption of new software functions ensures that automation systems are always up to date. Universal automation will make this and more possible, driving industry-wide innovation. We should see it as the start of an industrial automation app store. “