Schneider Electric Advances Plug and Produce Industrial Automation with EcoStruxure Automation Expert v21.0
Boston, MA, USA
• Accelerates release schedule for world’s first software-centric industrial automation system
• Intensifies call for universal automation adoption
Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, today announced EcoStruxure™ Automation Expert version 21.0, the next in an ongoing series of updates and enhancements for the world’s first software-centric system.
Schneider Electric is implementing Agile software development methodology to deliver a new EcoStruxure Automation Expert release, based on direct customer feedback, every six months.
“Keeping pace with rapid innovation while still maintaining the capability to be 100% future proof is a key benefit of EcoStruxure Automation Expert for our customers,” said Fabrice Jadot, senior vice president, next generation automation, Schneider Electric. “In the space of a couple months we’ve added features and functions that will enhance the user experience and directly address high-demand customer needs. Our best in class implementation of agile mode project delivery¾along with an overall agile mindset¾helps us provide an always-current experience for our users.”
IEC 61499 adoption
EcoStruxure Automation Expert, first launched to the public in November 2020, is the world’s first universal automation offer, based on the IEC61499 standard for interoperability and portability.
In his report, The Road to Universal Automation, Harry Forbes from ARC stated, “Today’s demands for greater manufacturing flexibility and higher productivity require that control system software development must become much more like IT software development. Far better management of this software as a resource becomes a critical need in the era of Industry 4.0. EcoStruxure Automation Expert is designed to close this gap.”
Early interest in this new category of industrial automation is strong. The company reports that its integrator partners see enormous benefit in being able to add value beyond traditional PLC control. Early adopters are innovating to provide comprehensive, more capable solutions by combining technologies for their customers.
“This is not the same automation platform from 30 or 40 years ago, so there’s an initial learning curve for adjusting to IEC61499-based technology,” said Jadot. “But we’re finding that once customers and partners dive into the technology, they see real returns in flexibility and speed of engineering unlike anything they’ve experienced before. When users realize the full value of EcoStruxure Automation Expert, the most common response is, ‘This is a game changer.’”
EcoStruxure Automation Expert is particularly drawing interest from businesses in the consumer packaged goods and logistics sectors where the added flexibility is needed to react quickly to changing market dynamics, take advantage of new opportunities, or rapidly mitigate potential risk.
Enhancements in EcoStruxure Automation Expert V21.0 include:
- EtherNet/IP scanner for software programmable automation controller
- ASi-5 gateway
- Position control with Lexium 32 servo drives
and updates include:
- Common function library improvements
- Improved user interface
- Ability to define supported function blocks in logical devices
- Physical view enhancements
- Other quality, performance, security and usability enhancements
Schneider Electric believes the time is right for a bold move in industrial automation and is calling on all stakeholders across industry to embrace universal automation.
Universal automation is the world of plug and produce automation software components based on the IEC61499 standard that solve specific customer problems in a proven way. Adoption of a universal automation layer, common across vendors, will provide limitless opportunities for growth and modernization across industry.
By greatly extending the capabilities of existing IEC61131-based systems and enabling an app-store-like model for automation software components, the advancements possible in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be fully realized. As its benefits become visible, Schneider Electric believes other vendors will adopt universal automation, and end users will soon begin to demand it from their automation suppliers and ecosystem.