Today, extracting additional value from existing control systems is critical to remain competitive.
But manufacturers are not upgrading their process automation because it's hard to show a full return on what can sometimes be a significant capital investment.
That's according to Schneider Electric, who has recently updated its flagship distributed control system (DCS), EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, formally known as Foxboro Evo Process Automation System.
With the emergence of advanced digital technology, driven by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), it's possible to recoup full, measureable ROI, if the right technology is applied, says Craig Resnick, vice president, ARC Advisory Group.
“Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure platform is an example of that technology,” adds Resnick.
With the new improvements, the energy management company claims the EcoStruxure platform now delivers 100% ROI in less than one year.
According to Schneider Electric, traditional distributed control systems have been limited to controlling the efficiency and safety of the process, without being able to measure and control other critical operating variables, especially profitability, in real time.
Schneider Electric is setting out to change that with the newly enhanced EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS.
Highly scalable, open and interoperable, the company claims Foxboro DCS is proven to increase the business value process controllers can generate, primarily by making the real-time profitability of the operation more visible.
With patented, customisable real-time accounting (RTA) models built in, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS allows the industrial workforce to evaluate the real-time financial performance of an industrial operation directly at the equipment asset level.
It also empowers them to more easily identify the impact their actions and decisions have on the profitability of the operations they control, according to Schneider Electric.
The RTA models can be manipulated and adapted to suit a variety of industrial operations across multiple segments, helping customers reap more value from their existing systems.
“For the most part, by the time business managers receive their monthly updates from whatever enterprise resource planning systems they use, the information is no longer relevant to the operational business decisions they need to make. Or should have made,” comments Peter Martin, vice president, Innovation and Marketing, Process Automation, Schneider Electric.
Martin says the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS breaks the mold due to Schneider Electric's RTA models that help control value - asset to asset, and all the way up the enterprise.
“By aligning process control with the hierarchy of the plant, we can provide far more visibility into the financial performance of every plant asset and asset set.
“That allows plant personnel to understand the impact their decisions have on the business and business leaders to understand the impact their decisions have on the operation, in real time.
According to Schneider Electric, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS also features high-capacity, high-availability control processors; more powerful, fit-for-purpose I/O; intuitive, role-based engineering tools; and enterprise-wide analytical tools and capabilities.
With a focus on real-time accounting to empower real-time business control, the updated platform also features automated real-time condition monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities that aim to minimise unplanned shutdowns, maximise uptime and lower maintenance costs.
“With its embedded accounting models and other IIoT capabilities, the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS has the potential to measure and control critical cost and value points in the industrial process,” Resnick adds.
“That could open the door for end users to shift from managing their business month to month using traditional reporting structures and tools to actually controlling it in real time.
In addition, Schneider Electric also has a new software solution, EcoStruxure Profit Advisor, that works alongside its distributed control system to help the industrial workforce diagnose and analyse the profitability of processes throughout the plant.
EcoStruxure Profit Advisor connects to any process historian to mine both historical and real-time data, and the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS takes the next step by building the algorithms into the process controllers themselves.
“The Foxboro brand has long represented a commitment to open, interoperable control systems, commencing with the launch of the Foxboro I/A Series in 1987,” continues Martin.
“Over the last 30 years, we have continually strengthened our pledge to deliver value-focused technology solutions to our customers. Now, after decades of continuous improvement, we are innovating at every level to help our customers drive measurable operational profitability improvements, safely, from all of their assets and asset sets.
“We are confident the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS will convert their process control and automation into the profit engines of their business.