Universal automation supports standardisation

For manufacturers, standardisation provides a cornerstone for their business. It benefits both producers and consumers without removing the ability to compete and innovate. According to Schneider Electric, standardisation through universal automation can also reduce complexity, improve productivity and accelerate change.The IT industry relies on standardisation and allows users to run Windows or Linux on any computer hardware. The software allows ecosystems of knowledge and innovation to flourish and communicate.

However, the industrial automation that drives manufacturing industries has followed a different path. Compared with the IT world, it has not changed much due to the over-reliance on proprietary systems. Despite the growth in open systems, it creates barriers to innovation. For example:

– It is difficult to run automation applications written for one system on another. This means making changes is slow and hence costly to innovate or take on innovative approaches.

– There is a lack of standard objects to choose from, so it needs a lot of engineering to create a holistic plant architecture, leading to islands of control and inefficiencies.

– Proprietary systems are difficult to maintain and expensive to upgrade. Unlike our phone or home computer, they are not geared to take advantage of the latest advances in digital technology, so companies often do not realise the full promise of digitalisation.

These and similar constraints make it harder for businesses to adapt quickly to changing demands. The recent pandemic highlighted this with the work-from-home edict. Businesses that had embraced digital transformation already had the flexibility to adapt.

Universal Automation

For industrial automation users, Schneider Electric has an innovative approach called universal automation to improve agility and operational efficiency. Universal automation provides industry with the chance to move away from proprietary systems, towards common standardised systems.

As with any modern technology, there is always resistance to new disruptive technologies, but earlier adopters are already seeing benefits. As a leading manufacturer of electrical hardware, Schneider Electric has benefited from universal automation principles to create a next-generation automation system. To benefit from the standardisation of automation, EcoStruxure Automation Expert is built on the IEC61499 standard. It offers an open platform as part of a new category of automation tools that allow users to benefit from the fourth industrial revolution.

EcoStruxure Automation Expert helps users work towards:

100% Engineering Efficiency
By automating low-value tasks and avoiding duplicate tools to get systems running faster and allow more time to focus on innovation.

100% Operational Effectiveness
Through predictive maintenance, digital twins, and other advanced technologies users can make step-change improvements in asset and workforce efficiency.

100% Future proof – now
Faster updating or their system using the latest digital technology to reduce total cost of ownership and preserve engineering investments.

See the introductory tutorial video here

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