Open Automation Accelerated by Schneider Electric and Wood Partnership
Boston, MA, USA
• Operators gain unprecedented operational agility and step-change improvements with interoperable universal automation
• Separation of control algorithm from runtime hardware advances industrial digitalization
• Engineers highly efficient and innovative with IEC61499 technology
Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, has formed a strategic relationship with Wood, a global leader in delivering automation solutions for projects, operations and consulting services to energy, industrial, and several other vertical markets, to make open and interoperable automation a reality for customers.
The memorandum of understanding agreement provides Wood’s automation and control group access to Schneider Electric’s IEC61499-based software, helping them deliver open, standards-based automation solutions to their global energy and industrial customers. Using object-oriented, event-based programming, where hardware and software lifecycles are decoupled and engineering efficiency is optimized, Schneider Electric and Wood are now able to provide mutual clients with next-generation, open automation and control, which can deliver step-change operational improvements today while also simplifying upgrades in the future.
“With closed systems, the full potential of Industry 4.0 remains untapped,” said Fabrice Jadot, Senior Vice President, Industrial Automation, Schneider Electric. “To accelerate industrial digital transformation, we must prioritize portability of automation applications. Today, agility and resilience are paramount. The IEC61499 standard delivers that needed interoperability and that’s why it is fundamental to the shift towards more flexible automation. We are delighted to be working with Wood, an industry innovator that has been leveraging the benefits of IEC61499, to deliver the next-generation automation solutions that end users need to thrive in the digital economy.”
“By combining our diverse capabilities and domain expertise in automation with the IEC61499 technology, we can unlock unprecedented innovation for our customers,” said Bridget Fitzpatrick, Global Process Automation Authority, Wood. “The siloed nature of industry is holding us all back. We agree that collaboration is essential to next-generation industries, and IEC61499 is the enabler. We look forward to continuing to bring greater value to our customers’ projects and welcoming a new era of open automation.”
The IEC61499 standard, which extends the capabilities of existing IEC61131-based systems, solves the problems of ensuring portability, configurability and interoperability across automation vendors and, at the same time, software and hardware independence. IEC61499 defines a high-level system design language for distributed information and control systems. It is the technical foundation of open automation because it:
- Enables automation applications to be built using portable, proven-in-use software components, independent of the underlying automation hardware.
- Allows the user to distribute the application to any system hardware architecture of choice—highly distributed, centralized, or both—all with little to no programming effort. Hardware targets can be as small as instruments and actuators, or as large as powerful edge computers.
- Supports mainstream software best practices, which makes it easy to create automation applications that interoperate with IT systems across the lifecycle from design to operations—without incurring significant engineering effort or introducing the technical debt of highly coupled, non-cohesive system designs.
Market adoption of the IEC61499 standard will drive a long-term shift from low-value programming of proprietary controllers to high-value plug and produce automation systems using proven-in-use automation software components. This new model will allow industrial enterprise to shorten time-to-market, lower overall costs, and increase operational flexibility and agility.
Wood is a global leader in engineering and consultancy across energy and the built environment, helping to unlock solutions to some of the world’s most critical challenges. We provide consulting, projects and operations solutions in more than 60 countries, employing around 45,000 people. www.woodplc.com