To fully exploit the potential of smart manufacturing Schneider Electric shares its vision for universal automation presenting EcoStruxure Automation Expert, the first software-centric industrial automation system.

Schneider Elecic believes that the evolution of machine learning technologies, augmented reality, real-time analytics and IIoT promises manufacturing companies and machine manufacturers in the industrial sector to respond effectively to needs

The realization of this promise is limited by the use of closed and proprietary automation platforms that hinder the adoption of the best available technologies, making it difficult to integrate third-party components and being expensive in terms of updating and maintenance.

If open platforms have been adopted in the field of information technology which are stimulating rapid evolution, industrial technologies cannot be said to be the same. Industry suffers from a lack of adaptability, modularity and interoperability that compress the capacity to innovate.

Schneider Electric believes that the time has come to make courageous choices and is aimed at industrial users, automation suppliers, machine manufacturers, system integrators and contractors, to adopt a concept of universal automation.

What is universal automation?

Schneider Electric’s universal automation is a world of plug-and-production automation software components, that is ready to be used directly in production, based on IEC 61499, which solves the specific problems of each customer with established tools. The adoption of a standardized automation level based on IEC61499, common among different suppliers, will offer opportunities without limits of growth and modernisation.

By expanding the functionality of existing systems based on IEC61131 and enabling a model similar to that of an

As the benefits become apparent, Schneider Electric believes that other automation providers will also adopt the universal automation approach and end users will soon start asking their suppliers and their ecosystem.

EcoStruxure Automation Expert

Schneider Electric realizes its vision for universal automation by releasing EcoStruxure Automation Expert.

The first offer for universal automation based on the IEC61499 standard opens a new era of interoperable industrial automation focused on software.

For Peter Herveck, executive VP Industrial Automation by Schneider Electric ›The IT world has understood the advantages of open operating platforms: now it’s up to industry. To fully realise the promise of Smart Manufacturing we need to imagine a new technological model: we need to open our platforms, decouple software and hardware, radically improve the flexibility and scalability of the systems.

EcoStruxure Automation Expert is a new category of industrial automation system that integrates the IEC61499 standard: it allows to build automation applications using asset-centric software components, equipped with portability, proven use, a

The first release of EcoStruxure Automation Expert supports traditional automation platforms such as Modicon PLCs, Altivar speed variators and industrial PCs. For the first time, you can program and distribute complex multi-drive control algorithms on the drive controller without having to use a central PLC. To complete the proposal, a virtualized software controller is available that operates in Linux Docker®-powered container, which supports control systems and information distributed also in edge computing architectures.

Using the object-based programming nature of the IEC61499, software components defined as Composite Automation Types (CATs) are used to model assets, combining real-time control functions with other sources, such as interface This asset-centered approach brings unprecedented cost and performance benefits, and gives staff the freedom to innovate, automating low-value tasks and eliminating duplication of tasks on the various tools in use. An analysis that compared EcoStruxure Automation Expert with the automation systems in use today has shown a reduction from 2 to 7 times the time needed to realize the traditional automation activities.

In addition, EcoStruxure Automation Expert supports best practices in IT, allowing a real change in asset and staff efficiency, thanks to advanced technologies such as predictive maintenance, digital twin and others.

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