Last month, we hosted our first Innovation Summit: Industry event in Chicago featuring expert speakers sharing insights on Industry 4.0 / IIoT, cyber security, and the value of connected products to the future of industrial automation. We welcomed in our OEM & end user customers, our distributor partners and even our friends from the media – more than 200 people in all – to discuss the on-going industry transition and how Schneider Electric is supporting customers as they take on the digital evolution.
During the event, I was pleased by the dynamic among the audience. Many started the day unsure of how the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, really can benefit them. However, they left the meeting with an understanding of both the IIoT concept and how they could easily apply digital, connected technologies to benefit their machines and their customers. In addition, we had the opportunity to share our EcoStruxure platform, explaining how its implementation is a direct complement to Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. A fact that many of the attendees were able to see by the end of the day.
Here were some of the key takeaways from Innovation Summit: Industry.
IIoT & EcoStruxure
The industry is very different than 20 or 30 years ago when companies had fixed manufacturing lines that produced a set quantity of a single component in a workday. Today, customers require variance. Trends are more fluid. Product lifecycles are shorter. Companies face greater pressure to reduce costs while maintaining productivity. The workforce is changing and cybersecurity is a major concern for everyone. Many are looking to IIoT for answers, but are still unsure about IIoT itself.
Some have said that IIoT is a new revolution in industrial automation. This sounds daunting. However, the concept is simple and we have already embraced the connectivity at the heart of IIoT and seen its benefits…just look at the “smart” lights or thermostat controlled from your phone. Now, we can apply this concept to industry – bringing devices and design together to deliver a smart, connected solution to benefit the bottom line.
The potential IIoT brings is to eliminate technology constraints that traditionally have been imposed on industrial automation, particularly those limiting the financial value these systems can offer. Traditionally, the focus has been on improving operational efficiency. We believe that industrial automation can do more, playing a much bigger role in helping control – and measurably improve – key business variables like safety, reliability, and operational profitability. Schneider Electric is leading this change with EcoStruxure, our platform leveraging IIoT to optimize an entire industrial enterprise into a Profit Engine. This optimization is focused on three areas:
- Smart Control: Integrating innovative technology to enhance control to include control of safety risk, reliability risk and profitability, in real time.
- Empowered Workforce: Delivering the expertise and tools needed by employees to understand their role in directly contributing to improving the operational profitability.
- Asset Optimization: When smart control and an empowered workforce are implemented throughout the operation, every asset enterprise can be optimized.
Energy Trends and Efficiency
Our keynote speakers shared how the digitation of industrial automation matches the digitization of other industries here and around the world. This global trend is driving an increase in energy demands with the millions of devices connected today turning into billions of connected devices in the near future thanks to the IIoT. Over the next 20 years, we will see a 150% increase in energy consumption and, at the same time, the need to reduce our carbon output by 50%. The balance of this equation is to drive efficiency in all that we do. In those same 20 years, we will need to become three times more energy efficient to meet those benchmarks and to manage our global impact. Moving forward, our strategies must reflect this. We need to understand the challenge that these global trends will have on our industry and build the solutions that help end users meet them.
Seeing it First Hand
Finally, the event allowed us to bring the solutions to attendees where they could see and touch for themselves. Demo units in the meeting’s Innovation Hub displayed the connectivity of our technologies while our expert speakers, offer managers and other staff were able to provide their direct insight and answer questions. This interaction brought the day’s discussion around full circle, from theory, to education on through to practical application.
I was very proud to see the way the event came together because I know all the hard work that went on behind the scenes to make it happen. However, I think I was prouder of the way attendees embraced the event, taking in as much as they could from the educational sessions and their discussions with our staff. They embraced our approach of converging Information Technology (IT) with Operational Technology (OT) to drive process optimization through greater insight, control and efficiency. While the industry will continue to transform, we at Schneider Electric will remain firm in our mission to lead the transformation of energy management and automation by delivering enhanced value to our customers and partners.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in making this event such a great success!
To learn more about EcoStruxure, click here.