Schneider Electric has unveiled its EcoStruxure Automation Expert, a new category of software-centric industrial automation system, and vision for universal automation, thus accelerating its drive to help customers unlock the full potential of the Industrial Internet of Things and unleashing a new wave of innovation by championing the widespread adoption of open automation standards.
With Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Automation Expert, Schneider Electric reports it is the first universal automation offering based on the IEC61499 standard, and it begins a new era of software-centric, interoperable industrial automation.
Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Automation Expert is a new category of industrial automation system with IEC61499 at its core. EcoStruxure Automation Expert:
- Enables automation applications to be built using asset-centric, portable, proven-in-use software components, independent of the underlying hardware infrastructure.
- Allows the user to distribute applications to any system hardware architecture of choice.
- Supports established software best practices to simplify the creation of automation applications that interoperate with IT systems.
The first release of Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Automation Expert supports traditional automation platforms, such as Modicon PLCs, and Altivar Variable Speed Drives, and industrial PCs. Reportedly, for the first time, complex multi-drive control algorithms can be programmed and distributed to the drive controller without the need for a central PLC. Completing the line-up, a virtualized software controller running in Docker-powered Linux containers supports distributed information and control systems across edge computing architectures.
Leveraging the object-oriented nature of IEC61499, software components known as Composite Automation Types (CATs) are used to model assets by combining real-time control functions with other facets, such as the human machine interface. This asset-centric approach delivers cost and performance gains and frees engineers to innovate by automating low-value work and eliminating task duplication across tools. Benchmarking of EcoStruxure Automation Expert against today’s automation systems has demonstrated a 2 to 7X reduction in the time it takes to perform traditional automation tasks.
Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Automation Expert’s support for mainstream IT best practices enables step-change improvements in asset and workforce efficiency using advanced technologies like predictive maintenance, digital twin and others. The system also reduces total cost of ownership by incorporating legacy systems with a wrap-and-reuse approach.
Harry Forbes, ARC Advisory Group, concludes; “The new EcoStruxure Automation Expert is both a highly productive control system design tool and a harbinger of a coming era where automation software reaches new levels of portability and hardware independence.”