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The Digital Revolution. Industry 4.0. The Industrial Internet of Things. The 4th Industrial Revolution. Call it what you will but today’s fast-accelerating technological evolution has forever changed the business of manufacturing.

In any digital transformation, investment in safety systems is essential. However, the justification for a safety system upgrade is seldom based on a single factor. Many considerations combine to ultimately build a successful case for modernization. I once presented a manager with two choices: Upgrade the legacy safety system or wait until something happens and go out of business. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but it’s not always possible to restart operations after an outage!

This post will look at the ideal timing for upgrades, so you can build an effective business justification and win that all-important approval to successfully secure money and resources for your new safety model.

 Look at All Elements Impacting Timing

When it comes to legacy safety systems, the adage of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is putting many operating companies’ businesses at unnecessary risk. In today’s period of tight budgets and limited resources, it’s difficult to get the funding to upgrade legacy safety systems—especially if that system is perceived to still be working fine. In this case, timing is everything.

To help identify the right time to upgrade, consider:

  • Reliability
  • Total cost of ownership
  • System performance
  • Availability of spares
  • Staff experience and expertise
  • Access to the equipment
  • Production needs
  • Downtime
  • Prioritization with other projects
  • Company directives
  • Standards compliance
  • Cybersecurity
  • Support costs

Upgrading is is not an exact science but whenever an element is out of balance, it can signal that it is time to evaluate if an upgrade is necessary. 

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

A good practice is to continually evaluate the long-term viability of your safety systems.  It’s important to make the decision to upgrade your safety system based on the full understanding of the financial impact, ROI, benefits, risks and potential consequences. In simple terms, there are only two choices to make:

  1. Sit and wait until something happens.
  2. Be proactive and develop a plan.

Many companies seem content to “sit and wait” and are hesitant to upgrade until a specific issue forces them to act, by which time it may be too late. From my experience, top quartile operating companies (those with a low risk tolerance and a strong focus on business continuity) adopt a proactive approach and don’t wait for a failure to occur. They establish the current “as-is” state and undertake detailed lifecycle workshops to determine the actual status and lifecycle of the existing equipment. They set the target for where (and when) they want to be, determine where the gaps are, and then put a comprehensive plan together.

Start Early

There is a popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, that says: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Taking that astute advice, high-performing companies take a proactive approach to safety system upgrades and typically start to plan early and then refine the project over multiple years. Planning can begin as early three years before the actual turn-around!

The process often starts with an initial investigation into the various options and choices, an outline of the approximate scope and the budget estimates. This then facilitates discussions between the various stakeholders (read: Modernizing Emergency Shutdown Systems: Step 2 Build Consensus) to narrow down the choices for further investigation or refinement. Once the way forward is agreed, then the scope, budget, resources and detailed planning can commence. This is when the real work starts. As the detailed work packs are developed they will detail all the points of the shutdown, including the best timing for implementation.

When it comes to a safety system migration strategy, careful lifecycle planning can reduce or eliminate risks. First and foremost, thoughtful consideration should be given to the scheduling of any migration. Long-term multi-year planning for multiple migration stages will help to ensure maximum ROI and minimal disruption.

 Plan Cutover Timing

If you are replacing an old system with a new one, the system cutover requires careful planning to minimize risk. A comprehensive cutover plan is a critical requirement for seamless transition to a new safety system platform. Without proper preparation, migration projects can be affected by cutover delays and other unexpected issues that may cause downtime.

When planning, there are many factors that should be considered, including:

  • The expected operating life of the plant
  • Any future plant modifications (e.g. de-bottlenecking) or expansions (adding extra capacity)
  • Proactive upgrade planning aligned to turnaround schedules
  • Plant availability / access to equipment
  • Re-HAZOP cycles
  • New requirements e.g. cybersecurity, regulatory requirements, latest standards etc.
  • Alignment with existing initiatives or improvement programs (lowers barriers to adoption)
  • Maturity indicators and status of existing equipment

A good way of recording the status of the system components is to conduct regular lifecycle checks. These in-depth reviews should detail the individual system, subsystem and modules (i.e. make, model, serial number, hardware revision, firmware revision, and other key data). All parts should be assessed using the published lifecycle data to determine the status, future phases and duration. This allows the stakeholders to identify priorities. Such a review allows you to build a lifecycle status of the system well into the future. Consider:

  • Is the part still in production?
  • Is it supportable?
  • When is the last buy date?

A simple “traffic light” structure helps visually identify issues, areas of focus, and priority. This information helps support a balanced decision on whether a full or partial upgrade is required by comparing it to other major factors such as the operating life of the asset. In the simplified example below, it is obvious that there is a pressing urgency to upgrade the fire and gas system (F&G 1).

TIP:  Ask your safety system vendor for a copy of their published lifecycle policy and lifecycle status for each element of the safety system (every reputable safety system vendor should have one).

Keep up With the Speed of Change

As soon as you write a plan, it can almost be out of date; such is the pace of technology. Due to the various lifespans of system components, effective lifecycle management is an important process to maintain. When developing the plan, it is worth investigating the lifespan of the various parts of the safety systems as these are likely to be different, with some becoming obsolete faster than others. Not only is it important to upgrade to the latest versions but your plan also needs to “protect the future” by staying current while also keeping pace with evolving technology.

TIP: Every company should have a safety system lifecycle plan that is reviewed and updated at a regular frequency. This will help you understand the lifecycle status and the potential risks to be managed, which is essential to determining the optimum time to upgrade.

In the next post, we will take a closer look at Step 4 – Using a Risk Approach

Miss the first posts in this series?  Click below to read them now.

Modernizing Emergency Shutdown Systems: 7 steps to approval

Modernizing Emergency Shutdown Systems: Step 1 Funding Approach

Modernizing Emergency Shutdown Systems: Step 2 Build Consensus

For further reading:

Download IIoT for Process Safety White Paper

The post Modernizing Emergency Shutdown Systems Step 3: Decide When appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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The recent oil crisis accelerated the focus on the downstream value chain. National Oil Companies (NOCs) are rapidly adapting their strategy by investing in refining and petrochemical complexes both at home and abroad. The goal is threefold: to meet the rising domestic demand, to hedge against oil price volatility by accessing the products margin and finally, to secure future crude customer base through overseas investment in a market with increasing supply from unconventional sources. This is ever more crucial in a transitioning energy mix, as petrochemicals would still remain a growing sector.

Historically, the downstream capacities were built by International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the developed countries. However, with emergence of developing countries in Asia and the economic growth in the Middle East, NOCs have taken the front seat to build the new capacities at home, signaling a “production and processing proximity” approach. Additionally, Middle Eastern NOCs invest in downstream capacities abroad, especially in India and China as the downstream markets, to secure future crude sales to these strategic countries who are currently the biggest Middle Eastern crude importers.

Saudi Aramco

Saudi Arabia is leading in downstream assets growth. State-owned company, ARAMCO, is currently undergoing substantial expansions in refining and petrochemical sectors with an ultimate goal of 8 to 10 million barrel per day (mbpd) of downstream capacity. To do so, they have acquired a 70% stake in Saudi petrochemical player Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC).

Overseas, Saudis are particularly consolidating operations in Asian markets. Providing 20% of Chinese crude imports, ARAMCO plans to further expand its in-country downstream presence. One example among many is the decision in 2019 to develop a $10 billion fully integrated refining and petrochemical complex with Chinese players. Also, ARAMCO agreed in 2018 to develop a $44 billion mega-refinery in India, capable of processing 1.2 mbpd of crude, ranking it among the largest global downstream projects. Additionally, the Saudi Crown Prince secured a $10 billion refinery project in Pakistan during his visit to the country. ARAMCO also marked its presence in Malaysia by creating two JVs for the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project with national company Petronas in 2018.

The company is also expanding its longstanding presence in the US to benefit from the activity growth thanks to the shale revolution. ARAMCO plans to bring additional $10 billion investment in its Port Arthur refinery in Texas. The complex is the largest oil refinery in the US, now fully owned by ARAMCO.


Similarly, UAE is targeting a significant expansion in its global downstream footprint. The national company, ADNOC, announced a $45 billion investment alongside its partners over the next 5 years, including highly targeted overseas spending. One remarkable example is the transformation of its main Ruwais facility into the world’s largest integrated downstream complex – doubling refining capacity and tripling petrochemicals production by 2025.

ADNOC is also a partner in the abovementioned ARAMCO’s $44 billion investment in India. Moreover, ADNOC has strategically targeted the underground storages in southern India, which makes them the only foreign company with a deal to store oil in India’s strategic reserves. In China, ADNOC signed a strategic cooperation agreement with CNPC in 2018, securing supply and developing downstream opportunities as a part of the plan.

US Majors

The US oil players have also engaged in increase of their downstream exposure, particularly along the Gulf Coast, where refiners are taking advantage of cheap output from Texas. ExxonMobil and Chevron are now investing to expand and upgrade facilities in order to handle lighter grades flowing from Permian and other shale plays.

ExxonMobil has plans to double earnings from downstream business by upgrading refineries in Baytown and Beaumont in Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Singapore, and Fawley in the UK. Chevron aims to process more of the Permian’s light crude after it agreed to acquire Pasadena refinery from Petrobras. Separately, surging US supply of low-cost shale gas and NGLs is also transforming domestic petrochemical industry, motivating players to add new petrochemical capacities.

Overseas, similar to Middle Eastern NOCs, US Majors are spending in the fast-growing economies. For example, ExxonMobil plans to make a $10 billion investment in China, including construction of a petrochemical plant and an investment in a LNG terminal. Along with Kuwait Petroleum, ExxonMobil plans to acquire a stake in BORL refinery, a JV of Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Oman Oil Company in India.


Downstream investment is emerging as a core business strategy among the Middle East NOCs who want to capture more of the processed value of their natural resources. Similar strategy becomes a priority for their US rivals who aim at a stable long-term business growth and leverage their unconventional momentum even in downstream.

Growing demand for refined crude and petrochemical products in Asia leads without a doubt to substantial changes in capacities and partnership structures. The US and Middle Eastern refiners expand their facilities in emerging countries, mostly by taking shares in local facilities and partnering with national companies.

Schneider Electric is well positioned to ensure that customers gain sustainable downstream profitability in a volatile market. Our solutions can provide Operational Excellence and discipline in downstream capital allocation.

Please, find more on: www.schneider-electric.com/en/work/solutions/for-business/oil-and-gas/refining-and-petrochemical/

The post Downstream Evolution: National Oil Companies and US Players Going Big appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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Two major trends are accelerating the pace of modern industrial transformation: increased pressure to improve productivity and boost ROI and the relatively low cost of IT-driven data acquisition and analysis. A recent LNS Research report survey bears this out by indicating that 45% of industrial organizations surveyed are already engaged in industrial transformation, and another 23% of companies expect to launch programs within one year. The research goes on to identify the top 28% most active organizations as “Industrial Transformation Leaders” and indicates that these leaders are 53% more likely to focus on smart connected products as a channel for growing revenue and market share.

LNS Research identifies two “life lessons” gathered from the survey data. First, the primary focus of an Industrial Transformation program must be the pursuit of business benefit, not testing technology for insight. Second, broad focus and scope are critical for success.

Digitization business benefits multiply across industries
Leading industrial organizations are now pursuing digital transformation (which has come to mean the same as industrial transformation, since the core initiative surrounds the digitization of industrial processes) for five primary reasons:

Correction of operational inefficiencies – Unlike the traditional rip and replace model where a newer, faster, cheaper industrial automation system supersedes an older one, the focus is now on how to extract higher efficiency values from existing installed equipment. The emphasis is on tackling short-term operational inefficiencies before completely rebuilding the process. Adding an IIoT-based system boosted by analytics and machine learning quickly increases the yield of each asset and improves the overall equipment efficiency. These basic operational efficiency initiatives produce impressive short-term returns. Consider the example of Casa Granado, a leading Brazilian cosmetics producer. They implemented an open EcoStruxure architecture that served as a base for integrating batch management and their manufacturing execution system (MES), along with some operations and maintenance tools. This quickly resulted in a 15% improvement in production yield.

Creation of competitive advantage – New software tools that acquire and analyze connected device-generated data improve operational efficiency in areas such as asset performance, energy management, and smart machine performance. These improvements then open the door to new revenue streams and business opportunities, thereby enhancing competitive advantage. For example, China’s Jiangsu Jinwang Packaging Machinery Sci-Tech Co., Ltd, an agrochemical packaging smart machine builder, invested in an EcoStruxure-ready connected machine solution, edge control, and analytics to provide smart production and maintenance services for its customers. As a result, their machine service efficiency improved by 35% while maintenance costs were reduced by over 30%.

Elimination of inefficient processes – Once obvious operational inefficiencies are addressed, digital transformation also can help tackle the more complex process inefficiencies. This is an area where collaboration with external experts provides valuable guidance. An example in the mining industry is that of a data consultant that helped support a copper mining company through the use of remote tools that replicate business processes and plant behaviors. Expert consultants monitor operations remotely and in real-time, filling in knowledge gaps where expertise is lacking so that process efficiencies can improve. In this remote “cockpit” environment (a command center where a consolidated view of key dashboards is monitored), the consultants utilize digitization tools to help to define a more efficient process. Stakeholders project economic benefits totaling $12 million US per year without committing any additional capital expenditure.

Establishment of a stable IT/OT architecture base – The integration of industrial and engineering software allows the emergence of a closed loop digital view that enables increased efficiencies throughout an entire product lifecycle. Working with Schneider Electric partner AVEVA, ADNOC, the national oil company of Abu Dhabi, invested in its Panorama Initiative to connect 100,000 data points from across 16 of its operating companies into a single view. This level of interconnectivity provides an automated method of managing the business by analyzing both current and near-future operational requirements and comparing plans to actual performance.

Creation of new customer value and new business models – Connected products across industries not only bring new value to end customers (like faster deliveries and higher quality products at less cost), but also prove valuable at introducing new business models. Many customers, for example, are not interested in buying machines. They are interested in the output the machines produce. Therefore, new business models, like performance contracting, are being introduced where customers only pay for output (like the number of cubic meters of compressed air utilized over a fixed period of time) or the amount of energy they save as the result of a high efficiency variable speed drive. Digitization tools can now precisely measure these outputs so that both buyers and sellers can trust the contracting arrangement.

Across boardrooms, executives are now involving technology vendors in business discussions. Once the business problem is understood, technologies are introduced to extract data, treat data, and translate data into dashboards and advisors. The current wave of industrial transformation is about connecting and enhancing existing systems to achieve a business benefit. For this reason, connectivity platforms such as EcoStruxure provide an open framework for enabling new ways to solve business-driven challenges across industries.

Schneider Electric has sponsored a series of research by LNS Research aimed at helping you understand and implement digital transformation as a foundation for the ongoing success of your industrial enterprise. You can download a detailed eBook, attend an on-demand webinar, and read a short article here.

Download LNS Webinar “Digital Readiness for Industrial Transformation”

Download LNS eBook “Understanding Industrial Automation Transformation Today”

The post Five Reasons Why Manufacturing Executives are Embracing Industrial Transformation Programs appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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In this era of low oil and gas commodity prices, improvements to processes and technology efficiencies are emerging as critical success factors. According to an Ernst & Young survey, 89 percent of the polled global oil and gas executives expect to increase their investment in digital technologies over the next two years. This result affirms the idea that smart, forward-thinking oil and gas companies recognize that digital transformation can help them improve current processes and meet future needs.

Justifying the financial benefits is always one of the toughest challenges of any organizational investment. Fortunately, there’s no doubt of the economic advantages of implementing these new tools. For example, the World Economic Forum estimates that digital transformation in the oil and gas industry could potentially create around $1 trillion of value for oil and gas companies. Technology breakthroughs in the industry can also enable efficiency improvements without high CAPEX and OPEX. In fact, using digital technologies effectively could actually reduce capital expenditures by up to 20 percent.

Today, investments in connected technologies and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), as well as the adoption of advanced analytics, are enabling companies to better control and monitor critical assets. This improved insight and control is resulting in long-term benefits through improved process efficiency, maintenance strategies, and asset utilization.

These tools have revolutionized decision making because companies now have access to real-time data for more strategic, efficient, and faster decision making and execution. Using real-time condition data from critical connected assets, for example, facility managers can continuously monitor asset health and receive advanced notification if any asset exhibits abnormal behavior. Potential problems are then addressed long before there is a safety risk or a costly impact to plant operations.

A global petrochemical company provides a real-life example of how industrial companies benefit from implementing digital technologies such as IIoT and data analytics. In this example, the petrochemical company has implemented an advanced IIoT-enabled asset monitoring solution that monitors oil transformers, medium voltage switchgear, low voltage switchgear, and variable speed drives (VSDs).   Within six months of deployment, the company had unexpected discoveries that enabled process and asset optimization.  In addition, they avoided potential failures due to errors in settings, configuration, and sizing of the VSDs that supplied the centrifuge pumps.

By utilizing these data-driven solutions, the operations team implemented changes that drove improvements in asset utilization and process optimization.  Additionally, the company was able to receive advanced warning of abnormal asset behavior, enabling the company to proactively address the issue, thereby avoiding costly unplanned downtime.  Finally, the company has gained measurable improvements in areas like operator safety and plant productivity, and has expanded predictive maintenance capabilities to optimize equipment use and maintenance cost.

As this experience illustrates, by leveraging digital technologies, companies can optimize operations, and lower costs. Learn more about the role of predictive maintenance in digitization in our white paper, “Strategies for Maintaining Electrical Distribution Equipment.”

The post 89% of O&G execs agree: Increasing digitization is an important investment appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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Oil & Gas industry observers are challenging the way the industry is currently operating its plants and facilities. The global shock of low oil prices has, in recent years, prompted a self-assessment within the industry, and has increased the level of urgency for finding more innovative ways of cutting costs in order to sustain profitability.

One approach to enhancing profitability is to modernize asset management so that operational data acquisition and analysis, and hence, decision-making, can improve. However, some obstacles are hindering the attainment of such a goal. First there are large quantities of operational data available today that are not being used. Current data, for the most part, is collected through traditional historians.  In many cases, these tools are underutilized with only a limited set of their functionality deployed.  Second, not enough has yet been invested in new ways to gather data (above and beyond historians), or in digitized, cloud-based tools that can quickly and accurately analyze that data.

Asset management has traditionally focused on monitoring the behavior of a particular piece of equipment or product, with each asset being treated as an individual. However, a discrete product that is experiencing issues may not affect the overall operation of a plant. Today’s plant managers are placing emphasis on greater efficiency across the plant, and want to view assets as integrated systems instead of as individual assets.

This is where digitization can come into play. As systems across facilities are upgraded over time, the intelligent devices that make-up those systems are now capable of capturing data and forwarding it to the cloud at an affordable price. Operators just need to determine the best ways of consolidating, analyzing and managing that asset information.  The goal is to convert the asset management data into actionable plans that improve productivity and lower costs.

Openness – an enabler of a more powerful asset management

The lack of openness in existing systems also can place limits on the benefits of optimized asset management.  Most of the Oil & Gas industry asset installed base consists of proprietary hardware and software systems that are typically sourced from a multitude of vendors.  However, operators can no longer afford the inefficiency of having to go back to these separate technology providers each time they want to add or change parameters within their systems. The data gathering and analytics has to work across assets, regardless of the brand of hardware deployed.

Organizations such as the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), and the User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries (NAMUR) are currently driving new standards around what “open” means. Their work emphasizes the standardization of system hardware components and looks to software as the principal change management agent. The goal of Oil & Gas industry stakeholders is to support this change in the traditional approach of complete proprietary systems by providers and open up the systems to allow multiple providers and different value-added solutions to be utilized and leveraged.

New tools that optimize the new data

As digitization opens the door to new data access, operators will be receiving information that most don’t currently have. As a result, they will be able to perform deeper analytics around energy efficiency and plant productivity which will, in turn, drive higher profitability.

Companies like Schneider Electric are enabling such developments by introducing open solutions and architectures that enrich the value of data. EcoStruxure Profit Advisor software, for example, collects real-time data on a regular basis from assets across a facility and links that data to an ERP system. The analytics are fed back to the operators, who can see the impact of their decisions from a historical view, and can judge how their current decisions are impacting plant profitability. Likewise, the software, EcoStruxure Asset Advisor, provides operators with the ability to anticipate and address asset performance issues before they become critical incidents, thereby mitigating safety risks, avoiding unplanned downtime, and reducing expensive maintenance interventions.

To learn more about how digitized asset management can drive plant profitability, click here

The post How Digitized Oil and Gas Asset Management is Improving Productivity and Lowering Costs appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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Asset Performance Management is a discipline that covers a wide range of technology and processes. When executed effectively, asset performance management can enable dramatic improvements in a company’s ability to achieve overall corporate objectives. A well thought out asset performance management strategy could include technology like predictive maintenanceaugmented and virtual reality. Or it may involve in-depth risk analysis to understand the criticality of assets and draw correlations between reducing unscheduled downtime and improved plant throughput. The key to driving a result oriented and effective asset performance management program is to first develop a well thought out strategy.

Before technology and processes are evaluated and adopted an asset performance management strategy must be developed and refined to meet overall business imperatives. Otherwise, companies may run into long, drawn out pilot projects requiring significant investment over several years that deliver no tangible results.

Where is the return on investment? This is a critical concern a lot of companies are facing today when evaluating new technology. An asset performance management strategy should combine information and data with people, processes and technology to achieve maximum return on asset investment. Developing that strategy may require the involvement of external experts to analyse and evaluate the current state of the enterprise. It’s important that these analysts and consultants understand topics that are critical to asset performance management such as:

  • Asset Master Data Management
  • Asset Performance Objectives
  • APM Strategies
  • Planning & Preparation
  • Workflow Management
  • Inventory & Procurement
  • Monitoring & KPI’s
  • Cost Management & Value Realization
  • Structural Failure Analysis
  • APM Organization
  • Skill & Knowledge Management
  • Sourcing Strategy
  • IT & OT systems
  • Continuous Improvement & Audit

With a deep background in these areas, expert asset performance management consultants can marry asset strategy to business strategy to achieve overall corporate objectives. The key here is understanding how these topics come together so that availability, cost, capacity, quality and risk are all balanced in a way that meets key business imperatives. A well thought out asset performance management strategy goes far beyond traditional maintenance practices such as calendar based maintenance and MRO management. By leveraging digital transformationtechnology, an asset performance management strategy can be developed to drive meaningful impact to the enterprise’s bottom line.

Digital transformation in asset performance management has paved the way for businesses to further integrate their people, processes and technology. By leveraging technology that addresses the complete asset lifecycle, from design, build and procure, to operate and optimise, an asset performance management strategy can form the foundation for exceeding overall corporate goals and objectives. Learn more about digital transformation and how it’s enabling new insights and opportunities with Asset Performance Management 4.0.

Matt Netwon Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager

Written by:

Matt Netwon is a Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager at AVEVA. With over 15 years of experience in the technology sector as an applications and systems engineer, Matt has extensive experience in supporting embedded platforms, automation systems, wired and wireless networking, network security technologies, and the Industrial Internet of Things.

The post How To Drive Real Results With An APM Strategy appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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According to Forbes, “Digital Transformation isn’t a buzzword anymore. It’s the way.” In today’s increasingly competitive marketplaces, every business is looking for an opportunity to exploit a new competitive advantage that helps combat their industry and market pressures. Numerous cutting-edge technologies promise to help overcome these pressures. With the adoption of digital transformation increasing across every industrial vertical, companies are looking to technologies like predictive analyticsmobility, and augmented and virtual reality to uncover those advantages. The question then becomes – how do companies implement these technologies with minimal risk? The answer – Pilot Programs.

A lot of the technology being introduced in industrial applications today may seem like magical black boxes that can only truly be understood and leveraged by data scientists. Take Predictive Analytics for example. While that term is thrown around quite a bit in industry publications, a lot of companies may be struggling with how this technology can be implemented in a way that proves its value with minimal upfront investment. This is the perfect case for a pilot project. The concern that companies and vendors need to watch out for however, is a term being referred to today as pilot purgatory.

Pilot Purgatory

Pilot purgatory may sound comical at first. But with all the hype and noise around digital transformation technologies like predictive analytics, machine learning and big data, pilots are often implemented at a snail’s pace as users get up to speed on how the technology works and explore how it’s applied to their specific use case. This can result in pilot programs that run for years instead of weeks or months. In fact a recent McKinsey report notes that for Industrie 4.0 pilot projects:

  • Only 30 percent of the pilots end up reaching scale across the entire organization with companies failing to capture value from 70 percent of their pilots
  • Some 85 percent of the companies surveyed spend more than one year in pilot mode, while 28 percent spend more than two years

To avoid pilot purgatory when it comes to predictive analytics software here are some things to consider.

Qualify Vendors Prior to Pilot Phase

The core competencies of predictive maintenance software vendors can be identified before the pilot process kicks off by evaluating the vendor’s:

  1. Existing customer base/references
  2. Software capabilities and features
  3. Proven software scalability
  4. Domain knowledge (for predictive analytics and asset performance management this goes beyond data scientists).
  5. Ability to act as a long term strategic partner with a roadmap for the future
  6. Support and services approach
  7. Relative cost of solution.
  8. Total cost of ownership (TCO).

A Foundation of Strategic Partnership

After numerous successful pilot programs involving AVEVA’s PRiSM Predictive Asset Analytics solution we’ve found that the most successful pilots are not the result of an attempt to uncover a business case but instead to validate the business case to invest in the software in the first place. The pilot project should focus on the vendor and customer working as closely as possible for the pilot to succeed.

Tips for a Successful Predictive Analytics Pilot Program

While there are a number factors that go into ensuring a successful pilot project when evaluating new technology, here a few tips to help guide your path.

  1. Recruit Executive Leadership Support. With any technology project it’s important to get buy-in from the executive leadership team. Some leading companies such as BASF have even developed specific teams focused on digital transformation.
  2. Define scope and success up front. Work with the vendor to identify specific and measurable outcomes that will result from implementing the technology. Again, the focus of the pilot should not be to define a business case but to instead prove a business case. For example, proving that the software can predict equipment failures that avoid $30+ million in costs.
  3. People are the key. At the end of the day people need to use the technology for it to be of any benefit. That means that putting a training program in place is mandatory. And if the pilot is successful, continuing to invest in training on a regular basis.
  4. Create a timeline. Pilot projects should not continue indefinitely. It’s critical that a timeline is attached to the pilot program that specifically states a go-no-go point in officially adopting the technology. If the software can’t prove it’s worth within that timeline then alternate solutions should be investigated.
  5. Formal Project Management. Pilot programs need the same level of attention as a production level implementation. Resources to conduct the pilot should be assigned accordingly with a documented project plan in place before the pilot kicks off.

For additional tips on how to avoid potential failures when it comes to digital transformation and other technologies like predictive analytics, check out the Harvard Business Review article Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail. And remember that when the pilot program is successful, a plan must be defined to scale and rollout the technology as part of an overall deployment strategy.

To learn more about how predictive analytics fits into an overall Asset Performance Management strategy view the webinar Implementing Predictive Analytics in an Asset Performance Management Strategy.

Matt Newton Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager

Written by:

Matt Netwon is a Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager at AVEVA. With over 15 years of experience in the technology sector as an applications and systems engineer, Matt has extensive experience in supporting embedded platforms, automation systems, wired and wireless networking, network security technologies, and the Industrial Internet of Things.

The post Predictive Analytics Pilots That Work appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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We live in a constantly changing dynamic environment. Therefore, innovation is a key driver for success. It means more than just research and development. In other words, it refers to changing, creating more effective processes, products and ideas. For almost a century, designers of electrical systems have depended on Schneider Electric for demanding operations. From switching and protection to monitoring and control, customers trust the TeSys innovation legacy.

Innovation is the key

Advanced settings and pre-alarming would make anything easier. EverLink guarantees lasting connection. In other words, we do not need yearly periodic re-tightening any more. This patented creep-compensating technology provides many benefits. For instance, spring-based system ensures a long-lasting power connection. At the same time it is reducing overheating and ensuring the correct torque tightening each time when you install the products.  In addition, circuit breakers can be mounted on a DIN rail in one click without any accessory. Can it be easier?

Century of Digitization

Noways we are trying to digitize everything as much as possible.  We would not leave our house before checking at least one application (App) on our devices.  Digitization has reached Industry. NFC App (near-field communication) with user-friendly interface eases maintenance and helps to make diagnosis and check the fault history. That makes our products one of the most accessible. The fact that the product itself is compact, makes the panel more cost competitive with less columns. Moreover, the same spare drawer can be used for several motors. GV4 divides by 5 the number of references to manage through a wide range of overload settings provided. Did you know that TeSys GV4 can have a toggle or direct rotary handle, or equip a toggled one with a direct, front or side handle? If few years ago customers had to go through catalogue pages to find the right product and accessory, now everything can be done in a few minutes. New Product Selector tool can help you to find the right product, the save time and reduce chance of making mistake.

Easy but safe

TeSys motor controls come with all the isolation, protection and emergency handling you need to comply with international codes, standards and regulations (CE, UL, SA, CCC, EAC). High-contrast covers identify safety-critical devices to prevent inadvertent manual operation. Every TeSys contactor is both mechanically linked and equipped with mirror contacts for safety applications – and wherever auxiliary contact state reliability is critical.

The most flexible system on the market

TeSys motor controls are easy to choose and easy to use. For instance, single configurable control unit can provide a wide range of current settings and control voltages. In addition, TeSys motor controls offer the plug-and-play convenience and flexibility you need to optimize your panel designs. And the wide selection of common TeSys installation accessories help you keep inventories and costs down.

To learn more about the TeSys offer, please visit our website.

The post Simple to use motor circuit breakers as a result of innovation appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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According to a recent ARC survey, 93% of industrial stakeholders agree that both edge and cloud processing will form the basis of their industrial automation infrastructure. Market observers and analyst firms are projecting that the cloud computing market will reach $411 billion by 2020 and are forecasting that 50% of data will be processed at “the edge” by 2022.

These major trends will require industrial stakeholders to revisit how they are modernizing their operations in order to drive the new IT-influenced productivity benefits. A first step in achieving these greater productivity gains is to understand how concepts such as “cloud” and “edge” work within an industrial context.

In the IT view, “edge computing” implies data processing that occurs on-premise (i.e., processing not occurring in the cloud, typically occurring in local data centers). Another popular term, “industrial edge,” implies computing that is close to sensors and actuators in the manufacturing area, as close as possible to the production assets (typically occurring in industrial PCs and controllers). When both of these are applied together, they form the basis of the ongoing information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) convergence in the industrial space.

Understanding edge and cloud drivers

There are multiple reasons for why edge applications are growing in influence across industries. First, because of the sheer volume of data being generated by the new wave of connected devices, it is too costly to send all that data up to the cloud. Edge computing can offer a less expensive alternative. Second, within certain applications, use of the cloud can disrupt performance because of latency issues (an interval of time or waiting period that is too long for data coming back from the cloud to be useful). For example, a blockage in a particular pump needs to be addressed as quickly as possible in order to avoid delays or disruption to production. The pump needs to be taken off line and repaired before it breaks. Besides latency, dependence on the cloud also runs the risk of a loss in connectivity. The time to reconnect could be too long and might result in the failure of a critical manufacturing asset.

In this new world of digital transformation, industrial stakeholders will succeed in maximizing digitization benefits by achieving the proper balance of cloud and edge resulting in cloud-edge continuum in terms of software and hardware management. Such a balance will require an analysis of the cost of each option and an understanding of the degree to which data will need to remain close to the production asset. For example, a cloud option could prove cost effective when piloting initiatives such as predictive maintenance. By starting a proof of concept in the cloud without incurring any CapEx, stakeholders can make an early determination as to whether such an investment will reduce maintenance costs over time.

On the other hand, a cloud option would be less effective in the case of an application that manages rapid production line changeovers. The reprogramming and reconfiguration of a manufacturing line or the ingredients of a new recipe (in a Food and Beverage industry scenario), can be improved by managing such changeovers with the assistance of edge computing. In edge versus cloud field tests, it has been demonstrated that up to 30 minutes in changeover time can be saved when edge applications are deployed.  In a scenario where an average of 10 changeovers occurs per day, the time savings and productivity gains become significant.

Finally, the cloud – edge continuum in the industrial domains require specific cybersecurity practices to comply with specific regulations addressing critical infrastructures and ensure business continuity. Processing data at the edge allows business critical functions to be carried out regardless of connectivity to the cloud, minimizing the attack surface and reducing the possible impact of cyber threats.

An end-to-end framework for optimizing the productivity gains

Access to an open framework of connected devices, edge control and application analytics can help to simplify the task of having edge and cloud implementations work in a complementary manner. Architectures such as Schneider Electric EcoStruxure allow for high productivity activities such as predictive maintenance, remote management of edge assets, and real-time optimization of process control to be enabled in a mix of cloud and edge environments.

To learn more about how edge applications are helping to drive increased productivity across industries, download the new Schneider Electric e-guide “Capturing the Business Value of the IoT Edge.”

The post Proper Balancing of Edge and Cloud Applications for Increasing Productivity appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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Exciting time to be there

We are going through a once in a lifetime technology shift, that has the potential to transform every industry and every business.  It is evolving at a pace very few of us have ever experienced.

Instead of asking “What is the IIoT?” the question now is “What can IIoT do for me?” The first step in this remarkable transformation is fundamentally changing the way that we think about business and automation assets.  It involves shifting investments from older technologies and business strategies to investing in new innovative business models based on the latest technologies.

This transformation is a necessity to stay competitive, and you need to address these opportunities before your competitors do, or you’ll be in hot water…or worse.  Digital transformation will have a big impact on your business.  You’ll potentially make money, recruit the best people, beat your competition… and create happier customers.

For many years operational risk management (ORM) practices have been used to manage safety and environmental hazards with the sole aim of protecting people, production and profits.  Effective ORM processes have proven useful in preventing adverse high consequence events and the impact on operational and profitable performance.

Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) for Emergency Shutdown (ESD), Fire and Gas Detection (F&G), Burner Management (BMS), High Integrity Pressure Protection (HIPPS) etc. are vital elements of a successful ORM strategy.

New IIoT based safety system approaches are available that unlock potential productivity, performance and ultimately profitability gains. For example, the concept of using a single integrated safety and process control solution using common controllers, input / output and networks while still maintaining the risk reduction levels mandated by good design practice.

Opportunity to transform our EHS performance and profitability

Fundamental to the digital transformation is the use of IIoT technologies including connectivity, digitization, big data, analytics, visual clues, digital twins, artificial intelligence when combined amplify each other, creating a perfect storm of change, not just single improvements, but complete transformations.

Acting to realize the IIoT value

Smart connected operations leverage IIoT techniques to capture and gather large quantities of diverse data (structured / unstructured) on a scale not previously possible, convert them into actionable insight for enhanced collaboration and decision making.

Although many businesses are at an early stage in the adoption of IIoT technologies, that’s rapidly changing.  According to the LNS Research spotlight on IIoT[1], 40% of companies have started an IIoT initiative, and a further 24% planned within one year.  Companies are clearly moving from investigating the impact of IIoT to a clear recognition of potential business value.

Good safety performance directly correlates to good business

The traditional view of safety is that it is a necessary cost to the business at the expense of profitability.  This asserts that safety measures are required to gain / maintain a licence to operate, procedures and processes required for compliance reduce productivity and increase costs.  Fortunately, pioneering business leaders are realizing that good safety performance directly correlates to good business.  As companies evolve to a “profitable safety” way of thinking, there is a shift away from the traditional thinking of safety as a cost, to safety as a profit centre.

LNS Research spotlight data strongly suggests the adoption of safety and risk management best practices lead to better operational performance across safety, reliability and efficiency:

  • ­ 7% higher overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) using a lifecycle approach to risk management
  • ¯ 10% lower incident rates when safety systems are designed to both mitigate risk, improve productivity and performance
  • ¯ 25% lower incident rates when IIoT technology is used to holistically manage safety and operational performance

[1] Download a free copy LNS Research spotlight: IIoT Results: Companies reducing risk and improving productivity in operations

The double edge sword of IIoT: Opportunity and Risk

The proliferation of new IIoT technologies brings downside risk as well as upside opportunity.

One of the biggest barriers facing industrial operators is getting the rich data from aging systems not designed with the openness, quantity or structure of data in mind.  No matter how hard you may try, sometimes it’s just not possible to capitalize on the opportunity IIoT presents with existing infrastructure.

The IIoT is enabling new information and data structures.  Technologies such as IIoT gateways, Edge controllers, Cloud computing, inherent Ethernet backbones are increasingly enhancing and displacing existing systems.  Two-thirds of manufacturers already deploying IIoT technology are using it to break down the traditional hierarchical approach to manufacturing systems and data silos.

But as we solve one problem, we run the risk of creating new, different problems.  Introducing any new technology brings new risks, adding more connectivity increases the potential cybersecurity attack area, bridging IT and OT domains – two formerly independent domains – may bring fundamental changes to the business model.

A systematic risk approach is required

Following a systematic lifecycle risk approach is vital for effective operational risk management. International standards for Safety (IEC 61508, IEC 61511), Cybersecurity (IEC 62443), Information Security Risk Management (ISO 27005), Occupational Health and Safety (OHSAS 18001) and Risk Management (ISO 31000) provide a systematic methodology and framework.  These standards share a common requirement for closed loop risk management throughout the operating life of the asset.

Room for improvement in safety performance

Operating companies should regularly revisit the risk assessments to address new / emerging threats such as cybersecurity, learn from near-misses as well as identify areas of improvement based on operational / maintenance knowledge and experience gained from a running plant.

Untapped potential of IIoT technology to mitigate risk and improve performance

Safety system management processes and performance data often exist in silos, making it difficult to “connect the dots” and understand the interdependencies between discrete data points to get a consolidated view of dynamic risk performance for effective decision making, especially when facing time pressure and the clock is ticking.

For example, in the event of an unscheduled outage and production has stopped, time is of the essence.  Establishing exactly what happened, when, in what order is often labour intensive, time consuming and error prone.

So, using IIoT concepts for data collection, consolidation, analysis and reporting can significantly reduce downtime, getting the plant restarted sooner and returning operations back to profit generation faster!

An integrated approach to Operational Risk Management for an IIoT world

IIoT convergence empowered by IIoT technologies is changing the relationship between business systems (IT) and control / safety systems (OT).  The scope of information has greatly expanded, vastly greater volumes and variety of data now require advanced analytics capabilities, while smart connected assets and operations introduce information security threats.

Historically this was accomplished by separate controllers for control, safety, addition of firewalls for cybersecurity, communications gateways, data servers etc. a whole raft of disparate equipment.  Now IIoT enabled common safety controllers[2] provide a single, integrated safety and process control solution, with inherent cybersecurity, all in one package, to reduce, cost, risk and time to value.

[2] Download a free copy of Frost and Sullivan Whitepaper: Integrating Safety and Process Environments

The post IIoT: The storm of change for profitable Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) performance appeared first on Schneider Electric Blog.

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