In 1980 a leading manufacturer of mainframe computers came up with a computing concept that would go on to revolutionize our work, school, and leisure experiences. Instead of huge ‘mainframe’ computers these new devices would stand alone and be well, ‘personal’. These Personal Computers, or ‘PCs’ would run programs (or apps as we call them today) chosen by the user from disks. These new PCs would be managed by a Disk Operating System. As part of development the company made the decision to outsource the development of this Disk Operating System (or DOS) to a small company founded by two childhood friends named Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The computer company believed that their business opportunities and profits lay in building hardware, not writing software and the rest, as they say is history. This decision to separate hardware from software had several consequences which make the PC world very different to the Industrial Automation world today.
In today’s industrial automation world, it’s a different story. Operating systems and applications are closely bound to a specific manufacturer’s programmable control system. Generally, once users and designers pick a hardware manufacturer that choice automatically defines the programming environment. Applications developed for one platform usually won’t run on another.
In other words, the entire control system design process is hardware driven.
But what if automation could be more ‘software centric’ and less ‘hardware centric’?
What if users could start with the design of the process (like they do today), then control system design could follow automatically from the types of production assets needed by the process (like it doesn’t today)?
What if users were free to choose the hardware they need, and its physical location driven solely by the processing needs and geographical layout of the process?
Then automation would be less of a constraint and more of an enabler in industry’s quest to be more agile, profitable, and sustainable.
Enter Universal Automation
We’ve continually introduced innovations to make industry more efficient and effective since we introduced the first Modicon Programmable Controller in 1968 and today we’re continuing with our supporting of Universal Automation. This is software centric automation which breaks the chains of proprietary hardware so industrial companies can focus on improving their core businesses.
EcoStruxure Automation Expert is our radically new Universal Automation system.
We’ve removed historical constraints so our customers can realize the full potential of IIoT enabled industrial automation to drive next-generation levels of industrial performance and sustainability with the following benefits:
- It helps them drive to 100% engineering efficiency by reducing errors, time to market and eliminating low value add design tasks. This allows engineers to spend more time on innovation. We’ve replaced programming by configuration and systems are built from proven libraries of asset centric objects using a drag and drop approach.
- It helps industrial companies be ready for 100% operational effectiveness. It’s much easier for them to respond quickly and achieve step-change improvements as the plant runs. The system does this by providing the agility to rapidly optimize processes and respond to changing market demands.
- It helps make industrial control systems 100% future-proof. It’s easier to incorporate existing legacy control system designs with an efficient wrap and re-use approach to incorporating older automation objects (a bit like running them in ‘compatibility mode’). You can make the most of what you already have and easily update/ upgrade as you go.
EcoStruxure Automation Expert disrupts current approaches to automation system design by taking a software-centric approach that:
- Provides the required levels of agility to design and reconfigure processes to keep up with today’s rapidly changing customer and market demands
- Bridges the technical and cultural divide between IT and OT allowing access to the information needed to drive new levels of data driven operational effectiveness
- Works with different hardware platforms from different manufacturers -EcoStruxure Automation Expert has been developed, following the IEC 61499 standard for portability and interoperability
Do you want to be free from the constraints of hardware-based automation design? Do you want to join the industries of the future?