4 reasons a single, integrated distributed control system is key for industrial operations

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distributed control system

A long-standing adage in industrial manufacturing says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That sage wisdom has caused many manufacturing facilities to delay system modernization or take advantage of innovative multi-engineering environments’ time-saving, reliability, and efficiency benefits. The need to re-evaluate available technology has never been stronger as industrial manufacturers grapple with challenges associated with today’s new digital age.

It is important to review the current manufacturing business environment – which demands speed, reliability, and efficiency – to understand the ways that a single, integrated automation system is helping industrial manufacturers with:

  • Shorter engineering and design cycles: The fast pace of technological change and increasing competition in the market are driving the need for faster engineering and design cycles.
  • Asset reliability and availability: Increasingly complex industrial processes must be more reliable, available, and easily maintainable to minimize downtime and improve efficiency.
  • Operational efficiency to drive profitability: The challenge to remain profitable requires optimizing production processes, energy consumption, and the utilization of resources to reduce costs and improve the bottom line.
  • Agile management and decision-making support: Real-time monitoring and control supply the advanced data analytics and visualization tools to support real-time insights into the performance of industrial processes.
  • Energy efficiency: Optimizing energy consumption and using more renewable energy sources is needed to reduce energy costs and improve the bottom line.

Process automation systems are the backbone of industrial manufacturing

At the heart of smart industrial design and engineering solutions are multi-engineering environments for process automation systems, like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Process Expert, that unify the power and process systems. These systems provide real-time data, advanced control algorithms, and visualization tools, allowing for improved decision-making and better control over processes.

As an object-oriented, asset-based engineering tool, EcoStruxure Process Expert provides a dynamic linkage between control and supervisory systems with up to 50% less development time and cost. This smart engineering approach can optimize communication between the two systems and drive consistency and quality with its standard process application libraries for control and supervision.

Four benefits of a single, integrated automation system

  1. Increased efficiency and productivity: A single, integrated automation system can provide real-time data and advanced control algorithms that empower effective process automation and business continuity. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity, overall equipment effectiveness, and lower total cost of ownership.
  2. Scalability and standardization: A single, integrated automation system provides a standardized platform for control and management, which allows for easy integration with other systems – such as AVEVA Batch, Historian, Plant Advisor, Asset Performance Management, and Advanced Process Control. EcoStruxure Process Expert is designed for scalability and to accommodate infrastructure expansion as the needs of the facility change. Its single, global database and configure-once philosophy allow uniform hardware and software configuration throughout the platform while permitting the reuse of existing application templates to simplify the duplication of equipment. This can significantly save design time and reduce costs.
  3. Improved safety and sustainability: Advanced safety features, such as automated safety shut-off systems, help prevent accidents and reduce the risk of harm to personnel and the environment. In addition, EcoStruxure Process Expert provides advanced energy management capabilities, allowing for improved energy efficiency while reducing energy costs. This can help to meet sustainability goals and reduce the facility’s overall carbon footprint. And using EcoStruxure Process Expert to integrate water, air, gas, electricity, and steam (WAGES) data points enables holistic monitoring and alarming. This helps optimize all manufacturing facility elements, which can significantly reduce carbon emissions while contributing to sustainability goals.
  4. Better visibility and control: Real-time data and advanced visualization tools give operators better visibility and control over their processes. For example, EcoStruxure Process Expert provides real-time dashboards with high-fidelity graphics and other visualization tools that allow operators to easily monitor and control the processes. Engaging dashboards also empower workforces resulting in improved operational performance, better decision-making, and reduced downtime.

Industrial control systems must be cybersecure

Cybersecurity is central to our technology as a comprehensive industrial control system. It addresses industrial control systems’ security and operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT).

EcoStruxure Process Expert uses a multi-layered approach to secure industrial control systems and connected devices. Using network segmentation helps to segment the industrial control network from the IT network, reducing the risk of cyber threats propagating from the IT network to the OT network.

It also includes a built-in firewall configured to block unauthorized access to the industrial control network while implementing strong authentication and access control mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to the system and its connected devices.

Delivering sustained operational efficiency

The value of EcoStruxure Process Expert as an engineering tool lies in its ability to provide a comprehensive and unified view of the processes, leading to improved decision-making and better control over the processes. Integrating data from multiple systems offers several benefits, such as improved asset management, predictive maintenance, and enhanced energy efficiency.

For example, a large Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company needed stringent security and a flexible batch solution to manage recipes, production execution, and traceability. They worked with us and utilized EcoStruxure Process Expert to coordinate all control system phases to facilitate the flexibility needed in recipe procedure changes while remaining ISA-88 compatible. This resulted in automated batch processes with complete batch history, material traceability, and reporting.

In addition, the energy management capabilities of a multi-engineering environment help meet sustainability goals and reduce the facility’s overall carbon footprint. Overall, a single, integrated automation system provides a comprehensive and cybersecure solution to deliver sustained operational efficiency and reduce the total cost of ownership.

The digital age has ushered in many changes. With all the proven capabilities of a single, integrated automation system, perhaps it is time that we consider, “If it ain’t broke, then fix it before it causes unplanned downtime or expense.”Contact our customer care team or your Schneider Electric representative to learn more.

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