Distributed Control / Cybersecurity / IIoT

PlantStruxure PES securely enabled for the IIoT

Integrated programming and PLC flexibility join forces in hybrid control platform.

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief, Control Design


The convergence of IT and OT is real. Even at the programming-and-control level, Schneider Electric has taken the next step in combining the integrated programming environment of a DCS with the flexibility and scalability of a programmable-controller-based system, including an Ethernet-enabled controller that features cybersecure IIoT connectivity.

Schneider Electric’s PlantStruxure PES V4.2 includes cybersecurity features to ensure system uptime. “As IT and OT converge, we need solutions that boost plant connectivity and security,” said Chris Lyden, senior vice president of strategy, Schneider Electric’s Process Automation business, who spoke at CONNECT 2016 this week in New Orleans.

“PlantStruxure PES enhances the ability of plant operators, engineers and managers to take better advantage of process and energy management data, which better enables them to improve maintenance, increase asset reliability and uncover additional operational efficiencies, all in a more secure environment. By making our PlantStruxure PES automation system secure and future-proof by design, we are meeting the needs of tomorrow’s production facilities today.”

PlantStruxure PES V4.2 integrates hardware with capabilities from the new Modicon M580 reundant ePAC’s Ethernet-based architecture. Designed for IIoT applications, the Modicon M580 redundant controller makes plant and asset data available and transparent. Today, 50% of PlantStruxure PES projects require at least one pair of redundant controllers within the configuration, said José Bonomo, vice president, offer management-hybrid systems, Schneider Electric. PES V4.2 combines next-generation connectivity requirements with the ability to lock down ports within a single configuration environment, Bonomo said.

New services will be available in PlantStruxure PES for engineering and commissioning, designed to make navigating a control program easier, as well as improve performance when making project changes.

Safe waters

“We were thinking of cybersecurity from the start,” said Bonomo. “The M580 was first launched with cybersecurity designed inside. And M580 safety, available next year, will combine control and safety.”

PlantStruxure PES V4.2 is a modular offer. “You can choose what you need based on what you have installed,” explained Erhard Bartl, PlantStruxure roadmap director, Schneider Electric. “If you want to add something, it’s easier with this modular architecture. We are supporting all of the assets and bringing the information up from the sensor to the business level.”

Because so many Schneider Electric customers also are using the company’s Wonderware human-machine interface (HMI) software in their plants, PlantStruxure PES provides an opportunity to readily combine Wonderware and Modicon PACs, explained Bartl. “We have libraries that are ready to use based on Modicon controllers and Wonderware software,” he said. “It brings design speed. We are also integrating Wonderware technology as part of PES, so the customer can use the same technology.”

Legacy on the vine

“We see a huge amount of automation applications that are aging and will be migrating,” explained Bonomo. “This is driving our roadmap on a day-to-day basis. The speed of business is increasing.” Energy costs in the United States can change every 15 minutes, he said. “In Spain, it’s every 5 minutes. We need an architecture that’s flexible enough to react to this.”

The IIoT goes a long way to address this. “There’s a need for intelligent assets,” proclaimed Bonomo. “When we meet with our customers, we talk about safety and security to make sure we are providing safety for life and providing cybersecurity. Everything we do fits with this.”

Hybrid control is a strategy to serve customer challenges. “Much of the success of the PlantStruxure PES process automation system is based on the value we provide for system integrators,” explained Bonomo. “Efficiency and innovation are available through Modicon controllers, libraries, navigation services and energy management. Business decisions are made at the control level because the architecture is flatter, merging IT and OT and allowing the management of risk, safety and profitability in real time.”