With Schneider Electric’s leadership in automation solutions and a vision for Industries of the Future, I’m often asked to speculate about which features and capabilities of distributed control systems (DCS) will help ensure process industry professionals make informed operational and business decisions in the future. I recognize that a more analytical way to tackle this question may be first to pinpoint the persistent and emerging challenges organizations face today, then identify which tools and developing technologies can help solve them.
The industrial business environment will always be in flux, so any cutting-edge DCS must be flexible, scalable, and future-proof. This will allow users to quickly advance their digital transformation goals and adapt to shifting market demands and commercial conditions.
These three macro trends will likely continue to challenge industrial organizations:
- An increasingly competitive business environment – firms around the globe will need to produce higher quality products more efficiently, economically, continually, and sustainably to thrive.
- More stringent regulatory requirements – from tightening health and safety regulations through rules to reduce climate change impacts, hazardous substances, and pollutants, plus initiatives to increase sustainability, both governments and consumers will expect the industry to make improvements.
- Continuing business volatility and technological advancement – from the effects of the pandemic through ongoing digital transformation, unpredictable business conditions will likely require the industry to leverage even more sources of information to support ultra-fast decision making, better business agility, and reduced operational risk.
While recent developments in automation, networking, and digitization have helped create intelligent factories and confront many of these challenges, there are additional ways a DCS can be developed to create long-term value and enable responsible profitability.
Leverage the convergence of process automation and power management to boost profits
Because DCSs are at the heart of your operations, they provide visibility into all your operating assets and processes. Still, it’s sometimes beneficial, and even necessary, to integrate systems to develop a fuller picture of overall performance.
For instance, unifying power and process systems with IEC 61850 international standard enables process automation and power management to work together to drive profitability through a combination of improved operational efficiency, safety, and asset reliability. Through integration, operators can access time-stamped power information in the DCS, along with associated process data, enabling them to quickly troubleshoot trips or outages, pinpoint root causes of failures and remediate electro-intensive equipment to minimize negative impacts on production.
When implemented by experts, using the right multi-disciplinary software tools, validated functional modules, and well-structured user interfaces, an integrated DCS can help process-intensive industries realize significant reductions in engineering, operational, and maintenance costs.
Software-centric automation enables the industries of the future
Since it offers so many other potential benefits for users, it’s no surprise that unification is the transformative direction that Schneider Electric is taking EcoStruxure™ Foxboro DCS. Process-intensive companies need to maintain a resilient industrial facility or fleet with an efficient architecture and expanded digital capabilities.
EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS with the complementary solution, EcoStruxure Power and Process, present pioneering opportunities to rethink how the synergies of converged operations should be implemented. As organizations continue to look at methods to consolidate electrical and automation operations – with costs significantly reduced and productivity increased – now is the time to learn more about what’s possible with software advancements.