EcoStruxure digital services enable agile decision-making

By Jim Montague

Aug 09, 2018

Even as Schneider Electric looks to close the loop on an increasing number of domains on behalf of its customers—from efficiency to profitability and beyond—it’s also delivering a broad array of advisory digital services designed to help them make timely, informed decisions that advance the performance of their processes and businesses.

"As IT and OT converge, everyone wants to maintain safety, profitability and availability,” said Farshad Hendi, safety services practice leader at Schneider Electric. “EcoStruxure can address these concerns from both perspectives, and help departments that used to be in separate closets to collaborate more closely.”

"When data is collected, it can be routed to simple or sophisticated analytical functions,” Hendi explained. EcoStruxure can then deliver descriptive data about the situation to the appropriate person who needs to act, including what happened, diagnostics about why it happened, predictive data about what will happen next, and prescriptions for what action to take. “EcoStruxure also delivers simple visual clues, so users can more quickly see and understand the complete picture about what’s going on with their applications," Hendi said.

Hendi and Tom Kinney, digital services director, Schneider Electric, presented "Roadmap for Digital Services" this week at the 2018 Foxboro User Group conference this week in San Antonio.

Common-ground cooperation

Kinney added that collaboration among the different layers of process industry organizations is possible because even though they have different initial concerns, they also share some basic goals about essential tasks such as safety.

"Management wants to know if operations are running safely and if the company's actions are defensible," he said. "Operators ask if they're meeting production targets within safety limits. Engineers question if there are enough risk reduction factors in place. What they're all asking is: do we have the right information to enable us to make timely decisions that improve the control of major hazard risks?” Kinney said. “This is the question our EcoStruxure Safety Advisor software can help these groups collaborate around and answer together."

Beyond bringing different players together, Kinney added that it's also crucial for digitalized data delivery, analysis functions and displays to adapt to the unique needs of individual organizations and users. "As we move to maturity, digital services must be flexible and allow multiple, different deployments and service-level scenarios," Kinney said. "As a result, we offer managed services through our Service Bureau [of live subject matter experts], unmanaged software as a service (SaaS) for application-focused online services, and data as a service (DaaS) for easier cloud and data sharing."

This allows Schneider Electric and EcoStruxure to help users connect all their assets from the shop floor to the top floor; collect and capture critical data at every level, including off-premise from sensors to the cloud; convert data into meaningful analytics; and drive action using real-time information and business logic.

Selection of services

Kinney reported that Schneider Electric's core goal for its EcoStruxure digital services offering is to provide insights of value to its customers.

"We're all prisoners of our past sometimes, but I learned over time to take a step back, and think more creatively about what we can do with tools like EcoStruxure," explained Kinney. "For example, one user developed a self-service tool for temperature and calibration that produces little certificates that can be printed locally. Other users took advantage of the tool, and now they're printing millions per year. It's important to embrace capabilities we might not have thought about in the beginning."

Some of EcoStruxure's primary digital service offerings include:

  • EcoStruxure Safety Advisor is a cloud-based analytics and reporting software that identifies safety risks in process automation for critical process safety control applications, and provides alerts, reports and actionable insights. After data gathering and analysis, it delivers post trip/process safety near-miss analysis; dynamic risk visualization that pinpoints key changes to the safety system that could impact operations; advanced warning and operational risk assessment that enables better decision making based on actionable insights.
  • EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor is an on-premise condition advisor for monitoring asset health automatically in real time and on the cloud. It also uses Schneider Electric's Service Bureau to generate actionable alerts with full context, and by leveraging cloud-based tools to quickly realize full situational context. It delivers improved throughput and availability by ensuring critical maintenance items are flagged in a timely fashion; reduces maintenance efforts with augmented remote analyses; reduces health, safety and environmental risk; and improves organizational effectiveness.
  • EcoStruxure Operations Advisor allows process and automation professional to quickly analyze operational issues, trace root causes and assemble recommendations. It consists of enhanced process alarm management, support for alarm audits and diagnostics, as well as process performance and value monitoring. It also has a field technician support tool with procedure guidance. It delivers easier data interpretation, enhanced collaboration, advice and guidance in complex situations, more time for operators to better manage production, increased reactivity and effectiveness, alignment on common goals and visualization, and deploys skilled personnel only as needed.
  • EcoStruxure Pumping Performance Advisor (EPPA) provides asset performance management of pumping stations. Schneider’s manned Service Bureau turns cloud data collected from pumping stations into actionable insights for customers. Users also have visibility into EPPA data through a web portal. It also helps users tackle operating expenditures, such as energy, maintenance and operations, and achieve an optimized balance between performance, risks and costs.
  • EcoStruxure Augmented Operations Advisor shows context-sensitive real-time data and virtual objects projected on a live view of the plant environment. This can speed up maintenance by letting users find information faster with immediate, relevant access in the field, such as user manuals, instructions, diagrams, etc., and avoid unnecessary machine downtime with the ability to virtually "open" equipment like electrical cabinet doors. It can also reduce operator errors during maintenance by locating the right equipment and guiding operators step-by-step to complete procedures.

"Over the years, we've learned that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), virtualization, cloud services and other kinds of digitalization must adapt to the requirements of individual companies, applications and users. And to do that they have to be flexible first," said Kinney.

"Second, having all the best software and graphics is meaningless unless they're provided in a context that's understandable. So, we also need to deliver people with expertise, P&IDS, log books and other resources that put the software, graphics and their analysis in the right context that gives value to its users. Third is cybersecurity, and it's embedded in all our offerings."