Software Updates from Schneider Electric Underscore Game-Changing Approach

Major wave of new software packages extend customer value and strengthen functionality.

Ravi Gopinath, Ph.D., executive vice president, Schneider Electric software business
Ravi Gopinath, Ph.D., executive vice president, Schneider Electric software business

Less than a year after acquiring Invensys, Schneider Electric hosted its first Software Global Customer Conference featuring its newly combined software offerings. The event marks the release of significant upgrades to five of the company’s major software offerings: Avantis EAM, InTouch HMI, System Platform SCADA, Wonderware MES 2014, Plant Operation Ampla MES, and SimSci Design, Simulation and Optimization.

“Combining Avantis, Wonderware, SimSci and other Invensys software solutions with Schneider Electric’s existing software portfolio is changing the game for our customers,” said Ravi Gopinath, Ph.D., executive vice president, Schneider Electric software business. “Our combined development, delivery and service capabilities enable new systems, applications and technologies to be brought to market faster. And our customers will continue to benefit from our long history of innovation, our world-leading brands and powerful new solutions that improve efficiency, help manage risk and drive higher levels of customer value."

Avantis

New workflow functionality has been added to Avantis enterprise asset management software to provide closed-loop work process management as well as escalation and system of record capture of processes, procedures, and activities. A geographical information plug-in, using Esri’s technology, allows customers to view Avantis.PRO information in a map and manage work based on physical locations.

“Asset management is a great application for this (Esri) when doing maintenance or planning out maintenance activities based on geographical location,” says Steve Garbrecht, vice president of software product marketing.

To meet the need for lower cost of ownership and deployment, Avantis.PRO software has also been qualified to operate on virtual machines hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment using the Platform-as-a-Service hosting model.

“The advantage for customers is not having to own and maintain Avantis software on site,” says Garbrecht. “Instead it can be run through the cloud via a SaaS model.”

InTouch and SCADA

Wonderware InTouch 2014 R2 human machine interface and Wonderware System Platform 2014 R2 SCADA feature several functional upgrades and improvements, including an expanded set of symbols and wizards in the situational awareness libraries of both software products, an array of new alarm features for large-scale event management, and major new editor improvements and tools to convert legacy graphics.

These symbol and wizard improvements make it “easier than ever to drag and drop informational and HMI displays, helping to improve standards, reduce engineering time and improve training for operators and other users,” says John Krajewski, the company’s director of HMI/supervisory products.

As for alarm management improvements, Krajewski says the improvements have been made to be in even greater compliance with EEMUA and ISA 18.2 guidelines for alarm standardization, specifically around time-based alarm shelving—a capability that allows users to “shelve alarms based on timing to not create nuisance alarms while something’s being worked on,” he says. This also applies to plant state-based alarming—which is a common occurrence when a piece of equipment goes down. Since alarms are typically configured based on a piece of equipment running, when that equipment goes down, it creates a lot of nuisance alarms. The updated software release can take plant state into account and “automatically silences alarms based on customizable state,” Krajewski says, adding that this capability is a further development of the situational awareness release made available in early 2014 and announced at last year’s global software conference.

Explaining the new editor improvements and tools to convert legacy graphics, Krajewski says that when Invensys introduced ArchestrA vector-based graphics in 2007, it allowed “gradients and transparencies and a whole host of capabilities that we could not do with legacy InTouch graphics.” However, many customers still have a combination of the two systems (legacy InTouch and ArchestrA graphics). By consolidating these packages in the WindowMaker editor, users no longer have to access the integrated development environment--IDE--to work with ArchestrA graphics. “You can work with both from WindowMaker and even convert legacy graphics to ArchestrA graphics with a right click,” Krajewski adds.

Plant Operation Ampla MES

Schneider Electric’s integrated planning and optimization software for the mining industry, Ampla MES 2014 is now capable of “optimizing the entire mining supply chain, from resource to market, and can improve productivity by up to 20 percent,” says Garbrecht. The updated version includes production and inventory accounting, delay accounting, energy management and conformance to plan metrics.

The 20 percent productivity improvement is derived from official user statements and reports specific to outcomes achieved in production that are attributable to Ampla MES implementations, adds Dave Sidery, solutions architect at Schneider Electric.

Garbrecht says that MES is typically purpose-built for specific vertical applications. For example Wonderware’s MES is built for food & beverage and similar batch processing industries. Ampla is designed for mining work processes and production accounting.

Wonderware MES 2014

The new release of Wonderware MES offers a new web-based client and line performance monitoring, as well as advanced recipe and formulation management capabilities for better end-to-end product lifecycle management.

Integration with Wonderware Skelta BPM workflow software enables model-driven MES, says Garbrecht, which helps enforce production rules and manufacturing procedures, enabling knowledge management and driving better collaboration across the workforce.

“Two things come into play with model-driven MES,” Garbecht adds, “And those are a series of tasks that need to happen in a certain order to be effective and capture of that information to record what actually happened. Skelta BPM brings in workflow processes and the ability to have the procedure enforced and recorded. Plus it can interface to other systems, such as an ERP-based recipe management system. Now you can build in a workflow around that recipe management process to get handoff for quality control approvals between the MES and ERP systems.”

Wonderware Online—brings a suite of Big Data features in a SaaS (software as a service) package, complemented with a variety of clients, including mobile and web-based, for on-demand analysis, says Garbrecht. These capabilities come into play with the “explosive demand for new packaging, more SKUs, new formulas and complex recipes creates challenges for food and beverage customers,” he adds. “Looking at customer needs—in this case OEMs who need a historian with remote analysis (available with SmartGlance) as well as trending and analysis capabilities—with Wonderware Online we’ve packaged that up in a SaaS offering so OEMs can capture information from the machines they create for maintenance/monitoring applications.”

SimSci

The 2014 update of the SimSci Suite contains the most recent versions of Schneider Electric’s process design, simulation, and optimization offering. The suite now supports the full plant lifecycle, from process design to operator training to process optimization. It includes: PRO/II 9.3 with updated sequencing and focused improvements for de-pressuring; DYNSIM 5.2 with enhanced usability and commercialization of a metals, mining and minerals model library; and ROMeo 6.2 with enhancements to the existing Information Stream functionality and integration to third-party refinery reactor models.

“The expansion of DYNSIM simulation library into metals and mining is a big step forward in response to market demands, Garbrecht says, noting that “SimSci is well known in refining and bulk chemicals companies. We are now expanding the software use into operations in mining.”

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