Industrial enterprises are under enormous pressure to increase agility to meet dynamic global demand while also reducing costs and increasing suitability. The technological innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution hold great promise to meet all those challenges. But as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and IT adoption accelerates, new system management challenges must be addressed. Adopting an open, software-centric industrial automation model is critical to fully realizing the convergence of Operational Technology (OT) and IT.
IEC 61499 Enables Industry 4.0
ExxonMobil, CPLANE.ai, and Schneider Electric just completed an ambitious three-month pilot to test advanced technologies in a converged IT/OT industrial control system. The results of the pilot exceeded all expectations and proved to be an important milestone for industrial manufacturers moving to next-generation, open process automation systems. In short, the pilot demonstrated the complete installation of a control system in just ten minutes, a 99% reduction in time and effort by traditional installation methods. Central to this demonstration was the IEC 61499 based EcoStruxure Automation Expert engineering design tool provided by Schneider Electric.
Large industrial process manufacturers like ExxonMobil, Dupont, and Merck are moving toward open architectures for their next-generation control systems. The familiar OT technologies like HMI’s, Historians, control function blocks, and Fieldbus networks will continue to play an important role. However, critical to accelerating the functionality and flexibility of next generation systems is the adoption of IT technologies like containers, orchestration, and Linux based computing. Melding traditional OT and rapidly changing IT systems together is a key challenge and was a critical goal of the ExxonMobil and CPLANE.ai Pilot.
EcoStruxure Automation Expert was selected to be integrated into the pilot due to its inherent flexibility and modern design. The most compelling capabilities of the solution was its ability to engage in a two-way exchange with the IT platform, both sharing descriptive information about the physical industrial plant and receiving commands from the CPLANE.ai Industrial system Orchestrator to initiate function block placement. The result was that EcoStruxure Automation Expert made the overall systems both more intelligent and more automated.
This pilot sets the foundation for a converged IT/OT control system that will provide leaps forward in automation and flexibility while at the same time maintaining continuous operations of the industrial plant throughout its lifecycle. This combination of automation, flexibility and continuous operations is the Holy Grail of plant operators who wish to continually improve efficiency, security, and profitability by capitalizing on the innovation of a next generation open automation system.
You can also access here the ARC report on Universal Automation to discover more on “Open Automation Test Beds Offer Evidence for a Revolution”.