Industrial manufacturers are increasingly pressured to digitalize operations to benefit from today’s latest technologies (see my previous post for more details). In particular, driving operational efficiency and profitability requires shorter design and engineering cycles. Plant operators and manufacturers are demanding a move towards “smart” design and engineering, which Cambridge University defines as “a methodology used during the analysis and design of a system that explicitly considers utilizing the technologies and opportunities arising from Industry 4.0.” Because of this demand, the role of System Integrators has never been more important in designing, engineering, and commissioning these intelligent industrial processes and systems.
An Industry 4.0 approach is enabled by advanced sensors, robotics, and digitally connected software to aggregate and analyze massive amounts of data. This results in optimized systems and processes in plants and factories. Since the technology and connectivity solutions that support this approach are challenging for industrial operators to implement, System Integrators that embrace smart design and engineering methods will be sought-after partners by their customers. These “smart” methods focus on optimal plant performance for its entire lifecycle and its total cost of ownership from the very beginning of the project.
Combining multi-engineered tools with smart design and engineering, System Integrators can virtually simulate, test, and validate an entire plant as it’s designed, reducing hours spent on project commissioning. Customers get a faster return on investment, and engineering teams get off-site and on to their next jobs quicker while executing their projects more effectively and profitably.
New digitally-focused tools enable smart design and engineering
EcoStruxure Process Expert helps System Integrators design, engineer, and commission new systems at a lower cost in less time. This distributed control system enables them to optimize project execution and develop plant controls using standard asset configurations to improve operational effectiveness and total cost of ownership.
An additional four key benefits include:
1. Project management – The object-oriented, asset-based engineering software provides a single, integrated environment for all project tasks, including design, programming, testing, commissioning, and documentation. Embedded advanced diagnostic features allow users to access data in real-time from any asset or equipment so problems can be addressed immediately. This eliminates the need to switch between multiple software programs and helps reduce the risk of errors or inconsistencies.
System Integrators can then stay organized and ensure all project stakeholders can access the most up-to-date information. They also can do bulk engineering for large tasks like creating instances, mapping hardware, and logic multiplication and linking. This can save 30% of engineering hours in the office and enable faster on-site commissioning.
Another feature is having multiple users take a multi-project approach that allows them to concurrently engineer different projects on a single system. Working with a digitally-connected software solution also provides the option to be cloud-hosted, enabling all project stakeholders to collaborate on-site or remotely.
2. Design and configuration – Asset information data is introduced only once, and the system design follows the Control Instrumentation Diagram, making control design and installation easier. This improves the ability to engineer and commission new systems at a lower cost in less time. The software automates many tasks, such as configuring I/O, generating functional block diagrams, and generating control sequences, reducing the time required for these tasks by up to 50%.
The software includes visualization tools, control logic editors, and communication protocol editors. These tools help System Integrators quickly and easily create and test their control systems, reducing the time and effort required to execute a project. EcoStruxure Process Expert also integrates with other EcoStruxure systems and third-party platforms like AutoCAD to provide real-time monitoring and control of systems, reducing the time and cost of commissioning.
3. Testing and commissioning – System Integrators can develop plant controls using industry-standard asset configurations, which expedites the design stage. This is because the software provides pre-configured templates for common assets, such as pumps, valves, and motors, which can be easily customized to meet the specific needs of each project.
The ability to engage ready-to-use process application libraries based on industry standards makes project execution even more streamlined. This standardization reduces the need for staff to learn and develop new control strategies for each project, improving their efficiency and reducing the risk of errors and training costs.
Additionally, a suite of testing and commissioning tools can be used to validate the performance and functionality of a control system before it is deployed. These tools help System Integrators proactively identify and resolve system issues, reducing the risk of problems arising in the field. 24×5 support is readily accessible to help solve any issues during project execution.
4. Documentation and reporting – Profitability, maintenance, and energy management are built into EcoStruxure Process Expert at the asset level and linked to provide plant-wide profitability management systems. The software provides real-time monitoring of energy usage and maintenance schedules, allowing System Integrators to identify areas for improvement and take action to reduce costs. This makes it easy to track the performance of each asset and make data-driven decisions to improve profitability and meet sustainability goals.
Furthermore, the software includes tools for creating detailed control system documentation, including wiring diagrams, system configuration information, and testing reports. This helps to ensure that all relevant information is captured and readily accessible for reference, even after the project is completed.
Optimizing engineering resources to increase profitability
Overall, software that supports Industry 4.0 concepts, like EcoStruxure Process Expert, can help System Integrators execute projects more efficiently and effectively by providing a centralized interface for managing all project aspects. Implementing next-generation Industry 4.0 technologies can be daunting, but System Integrators who embrace smart design and engineering while using industry-leading software optimize their resources, increase profitability, and reduce costs.
Contact our customer care team or your Schneider Electric representative to learn more.