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Schneider Electric wants you to think differently about safety

Oct. 16, 2018
How the company’s EcoStruxure Triconex solutions can help to actively manage the profitability of process operations

“We’re already affecting either the top line or the bottom line in everything we do.” Schneider Electric’s Steve Elliott explained how the company’s EcoStruxure Triconex safety solutions can help to actively manage the profitability of process operations. 

As digital technology continues its inexorable transformation of industrial processes, Schneider Electric is taking a leading role in reconceiving those process and business variables we could once only manage into ones we can now control.

Production efficiency was first, asset reliability was second, and now the company is taking aim at process safety—all toward helping industrial companies to fully leverage their automation infrastructure as profit engines for their businesses.

“We’re already affecting either the top line or the bottom line in everything we do,” said Steve Elliott, senior marketing director for Schneider Electric Process Automation control and safety offerings. “By applying new, stronger and secure process safety systems and components, Schneider Electric customers are better able to mitigate risks, eliminate incidents that lead to downtime and drive measurable operational profitability improvements, safely,” Elliott said.

The company’s expertise in the optimization of process efficiency is packaged within its EcoStruxure Control Advisor solution. Further, having pioneered the concept of real-time accounting, its EcoStruxure Profit Advisor allows process manufacturers to view in real-time the profitability of their operations. The company’s EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor, meanwhile, helps companies to predict and prevent equipment failures that can lead to unscheduled, profit-sapping downtime. Now, it wants to change how you think about safety, and how the systems and processes designed with the primary mission of protecting people and production assets can now help to improve the profitability of operations as well.

Under the conference theme of “Profitable Safety,” Elliott was among the Schneider Electric Process Automation leadership team who addressed this morning’s keynote session of the EcoStruxure Triconex User Group meeting in Galveston, Texas.

Know your limitations

“During the design of any plant with potentially hazardous conditions, processors have long acknowledged not only the safety integrity level (SIL) needed to reduce potential risks to an acceptable level, but also safety’s environmental and commercial counterparts,” Elliott said.

But it’s only with the recent introduction of advanced safety controller technologies—such as the company’s latest EcoStruxure Triconex Tricon CX—along with powerful analytics and data visibility among a plant’s varied assets and decision-makers that processors can possess a real-time understanding of where the plant is within that window of safe operations. A real-time knowledge of where the plant is with respect to those safety limits allows processors to operate more closely to that threshold when such operations enhance profitability.

“By leveraging our innovative applications and analytics, which take advantage of secured connectivity, digitization and big data, our EcoStruxure Triconex customers are better able to exploit their business and operating data so they can better understand the impact safety has on the real-time profitability of their operations.” added Mike Chmilewski, vice president, Process Safety, Schneider Electric Process Automation. The company’s industry leading engineering tools also enhance the productivity and accuracy of those charged with designing and maintaining process safety systems.

The power of digitalization

In today’s competitive global economy, manufacturers are under constant pressure to improve overall business performance, but many still are unaware of the various ways superior levels of safety can drive profitability.

“Since a manufacturer’s primary business objective is to drive profitability from its operations, protecting the safety of the plant’s people, assets, and environment has traditionally been viewed as a necessary cost of doing business,” said Craig Resnick, vice president, consulting, ARC Advisory Group. “However, by helping end users link the safety of their assets with the profitability of their operations, manufacturers can transform the value of their safety systems. Today’s advanced safety systems are investments, not expenses. Because they can quickly gather and analyze data, they enable plant managers and operators to accurately predict when their operations will exceed acceptable safety thresholds. These newfound abilities to avoid near misses and unexpected outages have a direct, positive impact on overall business performance.”

According to a recent ARC Advisory Group study, 92 percent of respondents in global manufacturing organizations strongly support the use of robust and capable devices to enable real-time decision making, with near-unanimous agreement about the concept. Users have long recognized the value of being able to process data and execute programs as close to the manufacturing process as possible, with the aim of maximizing process efficiency and reducing or virtually eliminating the time between acquiring data and acting on it. This requires manufacturers to digitize their operations so they can benefit from increased access to and visibility into operating and business data.

“Emerging Industrial IoT technologies, such as digitalization, analytics and visual clues, when appropriately applied, open the door to new opportunities that empower better, highly accurate operating and business decisions in real time,” Resnick said.

Using advanced, value-focused Triconex technologies, as well as the company’s patented real-time accounting models and dynamic performance measures, the industrial workforce is now capable of analyzing past, present and even future incidents to improve safety risk, which significantly heightens their ability to eliminate unscheduled downtime.

“IIoT-driven algorithms can be configured to identify looming threats to equipment and safety, allowing operators to act before incidents occur,” said Resnick. “By better identifying, planning and managing these operating and business risks, process manufacturers not only reduce the likelihood of unexpected production outages and downtime, they also have greater control over operational profitability. This continuous, closed-loop approach is how solutions, such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Triconex systems, can help them to shift from managing safety as a cost center to controlling it as a profit center.”

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About the Author

Keith Larson | Group Publisher

Keith Larson is group publisher responsible for Endeavor Business Media's Industrial Processing group, including Automation World, Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharma Manufacturing, Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Processing and The Journal.