In his opening session comments, Rob McGreevy, Vice President of Schneider Electric's Software Information, Operations and Asset Management, spotlighted three business trends the company is watching closely. The trends are: The shift by businesses across industries toward public cloud services, a continued tightening of capital expenditures, and an increased reliance on short cycle return on investment. The following “Vision Session” showcased, in detail, how the company is aligning itself around these trends to position itself today and for the future.
Kicking off the session, John Krajewski, Director of Product Management, HMI/Supervisory, pointed out that Schneider Electric’s strategic initiatives to address these market issues revolve around technology differentiation and industry-specific orientation. Ranging from long-standing products such as Wonderware’s InTouch, InBatch, Historian, and Ampla to new offerings such as Wonderware Online InStudio and Prometheus—all the updates clearly showcased capabilities around mobile enablement, cloud hosting, ease of configuration, and coordination of system information with operator tasks.
Following are key highlights from the session:
- Platform independence and ease of integration were highlighted for Wonderware’s InTouch Machine Edition, the company’s embedded HMI product. InTouch Machine Edition can work with Microsoft’s Windows 10, Windows Embedded, and Embedded Compact platforms as well as Linux. It is also HTML5-enabled for web browser access from any device. In terms of interoperability beyond basic configuration with controllers, it features native drivers to more than 200 protocols for connection with multiple device types as well as native communication to the cloud via MQTT. Because data is transmitted only on exception, InTouch Machine Edition does not negatively impact network traffic—a key aspect for Internet of Things applications.
- The Wonder InTouch HMI will offer InTouch Application Templates in 2017. These can be used to create apps from base application templates, ranging from the simple to the complex. In addition to numerous standard templates available out of the box, users can also create custom templates within the application for reuse.
- Wonderware Online InStudio is all about taking Wonderware software tools into the cloud. Up to 50 applications can be installed and configured in this cloud offering for collaboration between sites, system integrators and supply chain partners. The platform is highly customizable—even down to the ability to reassign seat licenses—to enable management of your operations software infrastructure on the fly.
- To connect different applications in the cloud or in separate data centers, Wonderware Operations Integration (OI) Servers are designed to handle the information explosion created by the connectivity of multiple locations, networks, people and devices. All OI servers are Internet of Things ready in terms of MQTT, OPC UA and SNMP enablement, and can also connect with products from numerous suppliers such as Allen-Bradley, GE, Siemens, Modbus, Beckhoff, Mitsubishi, Bosch Rexroth, and Omron. It also features automated project building capabilities that self connects with required devices on the network. In a highlighted demo during the Vision Session, the OI server was able to complete a diverse, system-wide PLC map with nearly 7,000 references in less than 5 minutes with no configuration required.
- Prometheus is a new Wonderware product. It is a high level, visual language for programing controllers that can connect to any platform. It features five ontology engines to guide users through the process. The software can be used to create and connect everything in a control system from communication specifics and I/O configuration to tags. It can also tell if someone has tampered with a device. Read more about Prometheus.
- Wonderware System Platform will be renamed InTouch Omni to reflect its evolution into an IT/OT convergence platform. InTouch Omni is designed to facilitate access to all the information across a company and supply chain by simply clicking on a device on the map and drilling down into its details. It features simplification upgrades—via new Object Wizards in addition to System Platform’s existing Symbol Wizards—made by Schneider Electric in response to customer requests to make the platform even easier for technicians when instantiating new devices. Using InTouch Omni, users can just drag and drop a device from the library onto the screen and it self-creates the device on the platform for configuration. InTouch Omni is also more flexible as it can work on any device and supports multi-touch interaction, such as swiping, pinch and zoom.
- A model-driven approach is being brought to Wonderware MES, InBatch, Ampla and Recipe Manager Plus, as well as third party apps managed via Wonderware Skelta BPM. This move to a model-driven platform allows for Skelta BPM business rules to maintain a library of best practices for applications across sites. The model-driven process guides users through specific process steps based on the company’s established best practices.
- Wonderware Historian InSight is now HTML5 enabled and features alarm and event history as first class data. The product’s new features reflect industry’s interest in moving away from heavy customization and toward easier deployment regardless of whether the data will be viewed on a desktop or mobile device. This move makes implementation seamless for online, on-premise or hybrid installations. Users can see, for example, the current operating status of pumps and drill down to identify potential problems. They can even see the impact of the current operating status on energy consumption. Via connections through InTouch, Historian SDK, OI Server or even OPC UA or MQTT, Historian InSight can connect plant sites to corporate offices as well as to suppliers and/or partners.
- Schneider Electric’s vision for asset management is EAPM (Enterprise Asset Performance Management) based on the five themes of: Generate—connect plants to enterprise-wide systems and sources; Collect—capture high fidelity processes production and equipment data on-premises or in the cloud; Analyze—apply machine learning, advanced pattern recognition and rules-based logic for asset monitoring; Visualize—uncover hidden opportunities using reports dashboards and KPIs on mobile devices; and Act—enable the workforce to make decisions based on timely access to data via mobile and in-enterprise collaboration. All of the company’s asset management products, such as PRiSM, are being modernized for web-based maintenance capabilities, as well as for inventory and procurement monitoring on desktop and mobile devices.