IIoT Gets Applied to Safety

Feb. 19, 2019
With Safety Advisor, Schneider Electric provides a cloud-based platform to aggregate real-time data, analytics and insights from multiple sites into a single user interface for the creation of an enterprise-wide risk profile.

Safety has historically been, and for many, still is an entity unto itself. Safety systems often have dedicated controllers and networks kept intentionally separate from other industrial systems to ensure operational and personal safety.

Because this separation characterizes the bulk of industrial safety technologies, safety is not a term often heard within the context of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) discussions. But when you look at safety from a data perspective, it’s easy to see why it’s well-suited for IIoT.

That’s the direction from which Schneider Electric is approaching industrial safety with the release of its EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor, which the company describes as an IIoT-based digital process safety platform and service that enables customers to visualize and analyze real-time hazardous events and risks to their enterprise-wide assets, operations and business performance.

Built on Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure SIF Manager application for tracking and validating safety instrumented function (SIF) performance over the life of a plant, Safety Advisor is designed to provide a single view into the health and status of a user’s SIF to help identify risks and their potential impact on operational performance, according to Schneider Electric.

Safety Advisor begins by collecting, digitizing and analyzing local data from existing safety and process control systems. With this information, the platform can provide contextual insight into past, present and future operating risks based on real-time operating conditions. Next, Safety Advisor aggregates data from every site into EcoStruxure’s secure cloud platform to create a dynamic view into enterprise-wide operating risks.

The technology also identifies the need to take corrective action and documents the entire process using an embedded SIF audit trail to support safety compliance.

Safety Advisor is a non-invasive technology that does not require any change to your existing safety system, explained Farshad Hendi, safety practice lead for the Americas and EURA at Schneider Electric, during a meeting at the ARC Industry Forum. “This is about bringing transparency to data; it’s beyond SCADA,” he added.

Considering the trepidation most safety engineers have about making changes to their safety systems, the “non-invasive” aspect of Safety Advisor will certainly be a critical selling point. Hendi also noted that Safety Advisor is a “vendor agnostic system that can work with any legacy system data source.”

“Safety is a multi-disciplinary job, and Safety Advisor is a good collaboration tool to connect the different disciplines,” Hendi said. To clarify this point, he said that the interface for corporate users will show all of the assets in the enterprise for high-level status review. Meanwhile, site managers, operations management and maintenance engineers can drill down to the site level to perform root cause analysis, view automatic trip reports and trending, review safety device integrity, and track maintenance.

Schneider Electric claims Safety Advisor is currently the only technology of its kind on the market that can enable customers to understand their risks within minutes, and act decisively to drive better business results.

“EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor enables the industrial workforce to create a closed-loop safety model that validates actual performance against original design criteria,” said Sven Grone, safety services practice leader, Schneider Electric. “Because they can now accurately predict when safety risks will exceed acceptable thresholds, they are better able to avoid incidents and reduce downtime, while improving the efficiency, reliability, and profitability of their operations. At the end of the day, Safety Advisor ramps up our customers’ ability to run safely, comply with safety regulations and drive measurable results to the bottom line.”

Bringing IIoT into the safety arena is “not a bleeding edge discussion anymore,” said Chris Stogner, of Schneider Electric’s Triconex business unit. “It [the technology] is here and it fits the strategic imperative.”

He added that Schneider Electric’s approach to selling Safety Advisor on a pay-per-use model is a more confident, mature, and shared risk approach. "Customers in the markets we serve are looking for a partner that can elevate their game year after year," Stogner said. "That’s changed how customers buy technology, and we have aligned our model around that.”

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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