By Hennie Colyn, Direct Sales Executive: Process Automation at Schneider Electric

Over the last 100 years, technical advancements have accelerated industrial control system engineering, reducing many of the non-value-added tasks and enabling designers to focus on other, important priorities.

Engineering efficiency is a game changer and Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert certainly hits the mark. The automation platform dramatically cuts the amount of time it takes to design and implement industrial automation systems.

In essence, engineering efficiency comes down to two things: programming and commissioning. Most automation systems involve hours of repetitive, time-consuming coding.

And unfortunately, some issues, following the programming phase, are only found during onsite commissioning. It’s quite a knock-on effect, engineers can’t move to new projects until de-bug and commissioning are complete.

Furthermore, customers can’t begin production until programming and commissioning are finalised. EcoStruxure Automation Expert overcomes these barriers and drives projects toward 100% engineering efficiency.

EcoStruxure Automation Expert is based on the IEC 61499 standard so instead of programming automation systems, engineers configure them with proven libraries of asset centric objects using a drag and drop approach.

Thanks to native simulation technology embedded in EcoStruxure Automation Expert, the entire design can be virtually validated and tested before it even gets to a customer facility, which further reduces errors and commissioning time.

This is good for both the engineer and the customer. For the engineering company, it can help them take on more projects and increase profitability. For the end user, it can help reduce time to market, while delivering more agility when changes need to be made to respond to market forces.

As an example, Master Systèmes, a member of Schneider Electric’s Alliance network, successfully used EcoStruxure Automation Expert in a project with Sophim, a French manufacturer of ingredients for high-end cosmetic products.

The project required an engineering platform with the flexibility and scalability that would allow for the modernisation of Sophim’s plant without investing significant time and cost.

Thanks to EcoStruxure Automation Expert, Master Systèmes was able to implement a solution that ticked all the boxes. On top of this, they made full use of the simulation software to test the new system before installing it onsite. The solution also makes it easier to access operating data so it can be used to manage the entire Sophim ecosystem.

Furthermore, future insights from this data will give them even greater scope for optimisation, allowing them to perform predictive maintenance more easily, for example.

The next generation of automation won’t take away the need for engineering work altogether. It will enable engineers can get on with innovation and helping to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

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