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Smart is sustainable too

21 October 2019

Andy Pye returns from attending the Schneider Innovation Summit, the latest stop on the company's World Tour. It offered 3500 customers, partners, suppliers and influencers, the opportunity to hear the latest thinking on powering and digitising the economy, and on the related critical global topics of sustainability, electrification, digitisation, innovation, energy management and industrial automation

Schneider's EcoStruxure architecture platform can be viewed as a three-layer cake. The top uses data analytics, AI and the cloud to drive optimisation, while the middle focuses on the edge, running mission-critical applications and operations, and the foundational layer comprises the connected sensors and devices.
Buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industry are responsible for around 70% of the world's energy use. Schneider Electric has calculated that 50% of global CO2 emissions could be eliminated by 2040 if digitally enabled energy saving measures were implemented in just half of existing buildings, in tandem with existing global electrification and decarbonisation initiatives. A notable early adopter of EcoStruxure was Deloitte, which employed it in Amsterdam, where its building called the Edge uses solar panels to generate 102% of the building’s energy needs.

We are experiencing a tectonic shift today towards electrification and digitisation

"We are experiencing a tectonic shift today towards electrification and digitisation, enabling a new paradigm in sustainability," said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO, Schneider Electric in his keynote speech, flanked by a Flamenco dancer and three energetic Spanish drummers. "For the first time in our history, we can all participate in a step change in efficiency and the rare opportunity to reconcile the paradox between progress for all and a sustainable future for our planet."

Schneider Electric unveiled the latest developments in EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform: EcoStruxure Power 3.0 is the third generation of the company's platform, offering digital technologies to deliver efficiency, reliability and safety for power distribution; EcoStruxure Micro Data Center C-Series 6U Wall Mount features low-profile design, making it 60% less intrusive while allowing large edge servers to be mounted and maximizing floor space; and the EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors Suite helps industrial enterprises manage their industrial automation data.

Schneider also announced the Schneider Electric Technology Partner program, a new initiative tailored for technology companies looking to scale and build up innovation within their businesses. Facilitated through Schneider Electric Exchange, an open ecosystem and business platform, partners can communicate with each other, industry experts and Schneider specialists.

The Summit also featured over 50 technology partners including Microsoft, Cisco, Dell EMC, Autogrid, Danfoss and Somfy, that complement Schneider's EcoStruxure architecture platform, applied across its global supply chain through the internal Smart Factory Programme.

The company is teaming up with Avnet and Iceotope to jointly develop innovative, chassis-level immersive liquid cooling for data centers, and partnering with ThoughtWire, a leading provider of Digital Twins, to create connected digital hospitals.

Schneider Electric is stepping up its commitment to carbon neutrality by:

- Accelerating its 2030 carbon neutrality goal by 5 years, to 2025

- Achieving net-zero operational emissions by 2030 as part of validated SBT target

- Engaging with suppliers towards a net-zero supply chain by 2050

- Reinforcing its contribution to SDG17 (Partnerships for the goals), by joining the Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative, and the Global Compact LEAD group.

“Climate change is the single biggest threat to the health and well-being of our society. We must work together to reduce our carbon emissions and halt the rise in temperature.” says Tricoire. “Our commitment to carbon neutrality is weaved into our business decisions and governance, but we need to do more and faster. WE are also calling on others to take bolder actions to reduce carbon emissions and establish more sustainable business practices that will help set the stage for a post-carbon world.”

Smart manufacturing

In January 2016, Ali Haj Fraj took over the position of Senior Vice President Machine Solutions within the Business Unit Industry of Schneider Electric, after starting his career in the Motion Control Unit at Siemens. He specialises in Industrial Automation and Controls and Energy Management.

In conversation at Barcelona, he told me that he sees smart manufacturing as the collective benefit of advanced technologies to optimise operations and gain competitive advantage. Smart infrastructures within plants enable more efficient manufacturing processes, allowing for faster responses to dynamic marketplace demands.

Core to the smart machine is the smart controller, one built not only to control a process, but one that is also capable of communicating and linking to an IT layer. This linkage allows for the interpretation of data that can signal dynamic changes in machine workload demand, material and resource availability, and, when considered in aggregate, the overall plant capacity. The link to the data provides the transparency needed to allow users to make the right decision and to control the process in a way that ensures the highest return on factory assets.

Within the Schneider Electric framework, smart controllers like the Modicon M262, are embedded into EcoStruxure. Schneider believes that digital transformation should be wide open. This is an IIoT-ready platform, and, at the same time, embraces openness and collaboration with third party devices and partner software.

The new Modicon M262 controller is IIoT-ready for logic and motion applications. It embeds cybersecurity features and encryption protocols to provide direct cloud connectivity and digital services thanks to its two independent embedded Ethernet ports.

smart controllers enable the smart machine to react in a proactive way

Combined with software analytics, smart controllers enable the smart machine to react in a proactive way to changes that may happen in the future. Such capabilities allow the factory to optimise the output, to make better decisions that help to maximize profit. New developments allow smart controllers to simultaneously provide both logic and motion control. This convergence of a logic driven machine and a more motion-oriented machine with high precision capabilities enhances both machine development and field performance.

Key benefits of the Modicon M262 include:

- Connectivity: Up to five 1:1 independent Ethernet networks and cybersecured cloud connectivity for easy integration into the plant with open protocols, including OPC UA, PackML, SQL or integrate to the cloud with MQTT, JSON or HTTPs requests (API).

- Efficiency: With four to 16 synchronized axes with scalable cycle time down to 1ms and a 3ns to instant processing speed independent from communication tasks, it helps simplify machine architecture and field bus wiring. No software is required for device discovery, commissioning and diagnostics.

- Flexibility: All requested features as a motion bus, encoder and touch probe. Safety can be modular or embedded. With choice between Optimised and Performance I/O systems, the Modicon M262 Controller provides versatile architectures around EtherNet/IP and/or Sercos.

- Protection: Complies with the latest safety regulations up to SIL3, embedded encrypted communication, network separation, Achilles certification and other cybersecurity features.

Robotics automation in food

Running concurrently with the Schneider Innovation Summit was the PPMA Exhibition in the NEC, Birmingham. Here, PWR Pack and Schneider Electric jointly showed developments in robotic packaging automation to the UK food industry, a sector where after a slow start, robotics is now beginning to take off. Digital technologies are able to increase efficiencies through real-time data and robotics to boost food production, packaging and delivery. PWR Pack's bespoke robotic pick and place packaging machines use Schneider Electric high-tech control systems.