Systems Integration

The road ahead for Foxboro Evo

Schneider Electric reveals plans to improve and integrate Foxboro Evo, Modicon, PlantStruxure and more

By Paul Studebake

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In many places and many ways over the course of Schneider Electric's 2015 Global Automation Conference this week in Dallas, the company revealed its near- and long-term plans to develop and integrate its product lines. From the process control point of view, the plans center on the role of the Foxboro Evo process automation system.

Introduced 18 months ago in September, 2013, "Foxboro Evo today is in more than 200 sites in more than 60 countries, in all aspects of major industries," said Grant Le Sueur, senior portfolio director, control and safety, Schneider Electric, to a packed session on the Foxboro Evo roadmap and vision. "Our beta testing is done with real data in real sites—we test it with you and exercise the new features in the real world before we release it."

The Foxboro Evo user audience has expanded into other disciplines. "To protect security and safety, we've enhanced the Tricon safety controller and made it so when you create a point in it, it's automatically revealed in the control system," said Le Sueur.

For engineering, the use of SAMA instrumentation representations eliminate the busy work and enable value-based creative aspects. "So does our acquisition of LimeWare and its foxray application, which is so exciting," Le Sueur said. "But if you have it, you already know."

For operations, Foxboro Evo Control HMI helps make operators more productive and effective. Operational insight gives them the right information to make the right decisions.

"Today, maintenance personnel must encounter and deal with a wide variety of technology," Le Sueur said. "They need a wheelbarrow full of handheld configurators. We're working with Field Device Manager and Maintenance Response Center applications to reduce that load.

"For management, we work to minimize obsolescence and increase value, so they can make products more profitably. Operational integrity lets operations continue to run by keeping systems always available, and future-proofing means we don't come to you with upgrades that require you to buy new hardware and software."

The roadmap includes a plan for the next 12 to 18 months, with an eye to 10 years and beyond.

More distributed power and connectivity

A new M580 high-end ePAC offers new levels of performance and redundancy. These and other Schneider Electric  devices will be integrated with Foxboro Evo. Additionally, the M580 range will extend into  SIL 3-rated PLC applications in 2016.

"I don't want to enter data twice to integrate a device into the system," said Alain Ginguene, director of offer management, Foxboro Evo, Schneider Electric. Near-term developments include low- and medium-voltage (LVMV) drives, M580 PAC and other device integration via tested, validated documented architecture (TVDA) applications that offer proven, pre-engineered templates for an ever increasing number of common industry and integration challenges. Using them, "Drives and PLCs are integrated into Evo, including in the HMI," Ginguene said.

For other devices, an embedded external device integrator will bring PLCs and drives into the DCS, handling large amounts of data and multiple protocols in a compact format.

Discovering and connecting electrical devices and motor drives into the DCS provides value, with the ability to configure and collect diagnostics in one system. And it offers a broader solution, ranging from a small PLC application to full Foxboro Evo.

Going forward, SCADA and telemetry will be connected to Evo. "In wireless instrumentation, we'll have a complete product line, much of it already done by Schneider Electric," Ginguene said.

"In cybersecurity, the big numbers about risk are being met with security and safety standards like ISASecure," Ginguene added. "We are working continuously to implement all the services for a secure solution. Any new product will have this as part of the mental process, as cybersecurity is a daily concern for us."

Integrating electrical controls and more

Later this year, the company will complete its additions to Compact I/O to give space savings and allow expansion in place in existing plants that need new capabilities. "As Evo extends into the Schneider Electric product line, we keep finding new value in the Schneider Electric portfolio," said Mike Chmilewski, vice president, offer management, process automation, Schneider Electric. "We've been working since before the acquisition on the many possibilities." These include:

  • Integrating intelligent drive and motor control center (MCC) into Foxboro Evo;
  • Schneider Electric electrical house (e-house) capabilities for building control and safety modules and delivering them ready to install on site as part of comprehensive solutions;
  • Cybersecurity: "There's an entire division in Schneider Electric devoted to that," said Chmilewski.

Some plants see value in integrating electrical and process control, for example, the ability to integrate switchgear with refinery controls to optimize energy. Chmilewski said, "That's part of a larger journey involving a lot of equipment.

"Schneider has a lot of technology that's complementary to what we want to do. We're exploring, finding capabilities, building new and more extensive solutions. There's a lot more to leverage and a lot more to come."