New IIoT solution from Schneider Electric enables industry to control real-time profitability

Singapore – Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, has introduced new IIoT capabilities that will enable its industrial customers to measure and control the profitability of their operations in real time.

Developed through a partnership with Seeq, a leading provider of software and services that enable data-driven decision making, EcoStruxure Profit Advisor uses Big Data analytics to measure the financial performance of an industrial operation in real time, from the equipment asset level of a plant up to the process unit, plant area, plant site and enterprise levels. On-premise or cloud-enabled, it works seamlessly with any process historian to mine both historical and real-time data. It then processes that data through Schneider Electric’s proprietary segment-specific accounting algorithms to determine real-time operational profitability and potential savings.

“Despite all the new technology and capabilities available to the automation market today, many industrial operations are still performing sub-optimally when it comes to the potential business value they can generate,” according to Craig Resnick, vice president, ARC Advisory Group. “Optimising business value in industrial operations requires scalable, open solutions that help users leverage every industrial asset. This requires shrinking the time to asset benefit from the smallest mechanical and electrical assets to the supply chain and enterprise. Such an approach could ultimately enable industry to move from monitoring business value to actually controlling it. This would include controlling business functions, such as, for example, scheduling and planning, that until now were purely transactional. This ability to actually control business value in industrial operations is a real breakthrough and will result in direct positive effects to companies’ bottom lines.”

Controlling Business Variables in Real Time

“While many companies are getting really good at controlling the efficiency of their operations in real time, they’re still managing their business month to month. That just doesn’t work anymore,” said Peter Martin, vice president of innovation, Schneider Electric Process Automation. “Business variables are changing so quickly—sometimes by the minute—that by the time companies receive updates from whatever enterprise resource planning systems they use, the information is no longer relevant to the business decisions they need to make or should have made. If they want to change the game, they need to control their other real-time business variables, including their safety, their reliability and especially their operational profitability. Profit Advisor allows them to do that.”

Because current cost accounting systems only measure the financial performance of the industrial operation at the overall plant level, it is difficult for companies to truly understand the financial impact—positive and negative—operational changes have on business performance. To address that need, Profit Advisor allows plant personnel to see and understand the ROI and business value their actions, activities and assets are contributing to the business in real time. It empowers the workforce to make better business decisions with a variety of data analytics, which can be displayed in various formats, to help drive operational profitability improvements, safely.

Innovating at Every Level to Deliver Value-focused IIoT

“Our customers are struggling with many issues, including the sheer speed of business and how to manage and use emerging technology to their advantage,” said Chris Lyden, senior vice president, Process Automation, Schneider Electric. “Everyone wants to talk about all this new technology without focusing on what value it can deliver. From our perspective, the digitisation of industry is a real opportunity for our customers. We’re taking a value-focused approach to IIoT because we know our ability to innovate at every level can help our customers control their productivity and profitability in real time. That’s the only reason we should be talking about IIoT to begin with.”

Profit Advisor layers real-time accounting models onto the Seeq Workbench to become a scalable, repeatable and easy-to-implement solution for multiple segments, enabling customers to both measure and control their profitability. And because it can be integrated with Schneider Electric’s simulation and modelling software in a digital twin environment, users are further enabled to forecast profitability under different conditions or if changes to the operation are made. Overall, the software provides:

1. Historical Data Review: Profit Advisor can evaluate the historical performance of the plant to assess its operational profitability, helping plant personnel analyse and understand how the operation performed during different conditions. It enables the workforce to identify true performance-improving initiatives. And since it can be tied to individual pieces of equipment, it can provide that information down to even the smallest asset in the operation.

2. Real Time Performance Indication: Profit Advisor can indicate current performance and inform plant personnel when their operating decisions are making the business more profitable. Actual ROI and return on improvements will be visible, enabling plant personnel to concentrate and refine their efforts to the actions that provide the greatest financial returns. It also enables plant personnel to determine which parts of operation are constraining operational profitability and accurately estimate the business value their decisions might actually create.

3. Profit Planning: Profit Advisor empowers process engineers to predict the profitability of the changes they are proposing, which will substantially minimise project risk and help to eliminate waste.

Optimised Assets: The Key to the Industrial Profit Engine

“Profit Advisor is the natural evolution of the vision we put forth several years ago, when we began to apply our proprietary real-time accounting models to help our customers measure the financial performance of their operations,” Lyden said. “Since then we have shown, conservatively, that these models can improve production value by at least 3 percent and reduce energy and material costs by at least 5 percent. These types of improvements have increased the profitability of process plants by up to $12 million or more annually.”

“Profit Advisor shows again how Schneider Electric delivers the value-focused IIoT solutions our customers need to improve business results in real time, from their equipment assets all the way to their enterprise value chains. Our approach will help convert their process control and automation systems into industrial profit engines.”