Schneider Electric clicks at Connect 2016

June 14, 2016
Global trends and best practices highlight automation conference in New Orleans

In 2015, process and power automation companies worldwide saw glimmers of relief from the global recession rocked by free-falling oil and commodity prices, as well as fits and starts in economies from the Americas to Europe and China. “The past year and a half was pretty challenging,” said Gary Freburger, president of process automation at Schneider Electric, to many of the more than 800 attendees from 40 countries at the company’s Connect 2016 automation conference, May 23-26, in New Orleans.

“Oil prices have put pressure on industry as a whole to look at things differently,” added Freburger, who reported that Schneider Electric is weathering the current economic storm, and can take advantage of present trends with or without increasing commodity prices. “Five years ago, we began fixing our business, our products and the way we go to market. With Schneider’s support, we’ve spent a lot of money, and now we’re in a good place. We have the technology the market needs to reduce risk, speed time to first production, and lower overall cost. With the recent fall in oil prices and slowdown in capital expenditures, we’ve been able to gain a lot of ground. But expectations are changing—things will look different—so we must continue to innovate at every level.”

To justify process control projects at lower product price levels, Schneider Electric is increasing the flexibility of its solutions and services, taking process automation off the critical path for its users—and demonstrated many of them at Connect 2016.


One example is the aptly named Flexible Lean Execution (FLEX) methodology for project execution, which is a mix of tools, technologies and processes to minimize risk in project schedules, time to first production and overall cost, while optimizing project execution and quality. One labor-saving enhancement to FLEX is its integration of Intergraph’s SmartPlant Instrumentation (SPI) tool—used during detailed design and engineering work—with Schneider Electric’s Engineering Workbench that configures process automation systems.

Another overarching automation solution is Schneider Electric’s PlantStruxure Process Expert System (PES), which has a single software environment so users don’t have to call up numerous tools. PlantStruxure PES v4.2 integrates hardware with capabilities from the new Modicon M580 redundant controller and its Ethernet-based architecture with cybersecurity features. 

“PES is a perfect fit for smaller and medium applications with up to about 5,000 I/O, such as water/wastewater, mining, food and beverage, specialty chemical and others,” says Herve Vandem, PES offer manager at Schneider Electric. “This system is distinct from and doesn’t compete with Foxboro Evo, which handles large DCS-based applications with tens of thousands of I/O, such as in the chemical and oil and gas industry. PES uses a pure, object-oriented approach to code in the controller and animation on the HMI. Traditional PLCs and SCADA require users to add code, put in symbols, and establish links, which can result in mistakes. PES is simpler, brings the DCS model to PLC engineering, and integrates DCS functions with the flexibility and openness of a PLC.” 


Illuminating highlights

Other innovations featured at Connect 2016 included:

• Tricon CX, a new logic solver solution architecture, which can handle 800-920 I/O in a standard automation cabinet, which is twice as many as the classic Tricon safety controller.

• Modicon M580 controller demonstrating its new ePAC device, which seamlessly integrates into its local Ethernet network with help from added backplane connections for Modbus TCP/IP and EtherNet IP communications.

• M200 standard universal I/O and M200 compact universal I/O in the Foxboro Evo I/O family are now joined by FBM248 standard redundant I/O, as well as a universal I/O for safety built on the Triconex platform. FBM248 has redundancy capabilities and is 100% software configurable. These will be joined later by a compact redundant I/O version.

• SCD6000 remote SCADA solution has added DNP3 Secure Authentication v5, which allows users to migrate SCADA systems to more secure arrangements.

• Tricon Version 11, which consists of enhancements to its platform, hardware and software. These include the new Tricon MP3009 main processor, 8210E high-speed chassis and unified communications module. The company also has increased peer-to-peer networking capabilities to 254 nodes, reduced “download-all” requirements, achieved ISASecure compliance, enabled project file download and upload from controllers, and enabled online upgrade of main processors.

For coverage of each day’s news and events at Connect 2016, visit