Universal automation: How one company uses “open” software tools to facilitate algae carbon capture

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Universal automation

Universal automation introduces a new world of plug-and-produce industrial automation software components to manufacturers and logistics organizations. Like an app store for the industry, plant managers, engineers, and equipment operators can more easily implement “best of breed” approaches to help drive operational efficiency while lowering costs.

By investing in open hardware-agnostic software tools based on the IEC 61499 standard, industrial stakeholders can:

  • Reduce solution development time
  • Ease interoperability complexity
  • Preserve overall digital continuity

Consider the example of the Brilliant Planet organization, a Moroccan-based pioneer in low-cost, algae-based carbon capture. The company’s innovative processes enable vast quantities of microalgae to grow in open-air pond-based systems on coastal desert land. The algae can sequester up to 30x more carbon from the atmosphere than a forested area of an equivalent size. This is achieved without using fresh water by harnessing a natural process that contributes to the health of oceans and air.

The carbon capture process requires a highly flexible and efficient control system that can quickly scale as needed. Operator visualization software addresses this by enabling precise control to help monitor critical pumping and temperature control system parameters more easily. Working together with Platinum Electrical Engineering, a certified Schneider Electric™ Alliance Partner, Brilliant Planet engineers selected a solution that combined EcoStruxure™ Automation Expert, the world’s first software-centric universal automation system, alongside AVEVA™ System Platform and AVEVA Insight to provide complete visibility and control of operations.

Universal automation-driven time savings and error reduction

When configuring a control system for such a complex operation as algae-based carbon capture, the critical components involve close linkages between the automation system and the human-machine interface (HMI). Traditionally, linking integrated operations with the HMI for monitoring, generating essential alarms, and displaying key system performance variables is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Depending on the size of the application, communication between HMI and automation systems may have to be managed across thousands of variables.

EcoStruxure Automation Expert’s open integration with AVEVA software packages helps engineers and developers streamline their control application design. It automatically maps control objects to HMI objects, eliminating the need to switch between applications. The embedded graphical editor in EcoStruxure Automation Expert directly links to AVEVA, saving time and reducing the risk of manual errors.

These tools support intelligent change management, ensuring automatic updates between automation system objects and HMI. Changes in one system are seamlessly reflected in the other, keeping both synchronized. Communication is automatically generated according to OPC UA standard parameters.

“The Schneider Electric and Platinum Electrical Engineering solution enables us to copy, paste, and scale at each site. This means we can utilize resources more efficiently while seeing drastic improvements in control. We hope this system provides the foundation for further expansion in the coming years.”

Adam Taylor, Brilliant Planet CEO

In process control, the concept of digital continuity is just as valuable. When a process engineer designs facility pipe and instrument diagrams using tools that follow the DEXPI standard, the open EcoStruxure Automation Expert software seamlessly generates process control objects. This automation saves time in testing and integration and minimizes development errors.

For more information

Download our quick video demonstration to learn how universal automation platforms like EcoStruxure Automation Expert can drive digital transformation benefits in your manufacturing facility.

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