Open platforms and partnerships help process OEMs deliver on digitization promises

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From demanding consumer and stakeholder sustainability requirements to stringent standards and regulations, today’s industrial manufacturers must accelerate their digital transformation towards sustainable performance.

In the food and beverage and life sciences industries, where line changes traditionally occur every seven years, we see emerging requirements to modernize production lines condensed to three years as a must to remain competitive.

In heavier industries like mining and metals and oil and gas, plant infrastructure upgrades are driven by growing decarbonization pressure. These upgrades allow organizations to quickly align with regulatory sustainability standards and are supported by shareholders and consumers as an imperative to enable their social license to operate.

Organizations no longer have 24 or 48 months to respond to changes in manufacturing line configurations, even for custom-designed and built equipment. For providers supplying and integrating manufacturing process equipment−like OEMs and process OEMs, it becomes critical to address these needs with faster delivery of their products and services.

Whether during the commissioning of new plants or upgrading existing plants, industry infrastructure delivery schedules are tight. Numerous pieces of equipment are sourced from multiple suppliers, and if an item in the chain is delayed to the plant site, a domino effect occurs. When project schedules are squeezed, expenses mount quickly.

For many process OEMs, the ability to win or lose a project depends upon their product and service delivery time due to its direct bearing on end-user costs.

Partnerships: The glue that drives business growth

Technology partners are critical in enabling fast delivery of the machines and integration services that process industry manufacturers require for efficient delivery of OEM products and services. Schneider Electric, for example, offers OEMs and process OEMs an array of digital tools that significantly accelerate the solution design and delivery process:

  • Open, product agnostic programming platforms – Process OEMs often work with various software interfaces from multiple vendors, which can present complex interoperability challenges and slow down the work of machine-to-machine integration. However, new universal automation platforms, such as EcoStruxure Automation Expert, are game changers to finally make it possible to decouple hardware from software. This drastically decreases the time it takes for process OEMs to integrate new machines into an existing installed base.
  • Power and process convergence tools – Across the mining, metal, oil and gas, chemical, and cement industries, the deployment of massive pumps and motors involves the integration of process automation and sophisticated electrical systems. Without the proper tools, the digital convergence of these two environments can become time-consuming for OEMs who are process automation experts but may not be power experts. Easy-to-use tools address both areas of integration simultaneously, saving delivery time and dramatically reducing costs.
  • Engineering and commissioning tools – New digital engineering tools such as EcoStruxure Control Engineering and EcoStruxure Process Expert offer built-in intelligence and rules-based architectures that recommend OEMs the best brand-agnostic reference components that will work together for a given project on a real-time basis. In other words- engineers don’t need to manually go through trial-and-error exercises to determine the optimum combination of IT and OT integration compatibility. In addition, dramatic reductions in delivery times can be made using templatized modular programs built on a base of reusable pre-programmed objects and designs.

On the commissioning side, visualization tools can be used to test preliminary plans before a system goes online. Simulation tools are used at the machine level, from design and engineering to commissioning. Collaboration across multiple teams using a virtual digital twin platform makes commissioning not just faster but safer and more productive.

  • Local – global relationship – Process industry manufacturers are increasingly aiming at a network of global manufacturing plants by leveraging process and equipment specialists from across the world. For an OEM, it often means working with manufacturers halfway around the world and collaborating with other specialist equipment providers from various countries. A partnership with a technology provider that can offer consistent and collaborative technical support, no matter where you go, can significantly impact an OEMs competitiveness.

A partnership offering unique technology and global expert support

Customers who seek new solutions prefer working with partners who offer innovative, highly sustainable, and reliable technologies. In addition, many global customers expect the same quality and consistency of service across all geographies. Partnering with such global technology providers helps them to better control costs while maintaining higher productivity rates.

Companies like Schneider Electric are uniquely positioned to offer a one-stop-shop experience when working with industrial manufacturers and OEMs. Deep expertise in automation, power, and digitization, coupled with physical proximity to plants and local OEM offices (Schneider Electric employs over 128,000 professionals worldwide in over 100 countries), helps OEMs to understand, anticipate and adapt to shifting business continuity customer requirements in a more agile manner.

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