Sink or swim? Drowning under too much info!

16/06/2017

Rachel Cooper, category marketing manager – field services with Schneider Electric on managing the Big Data Flood.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is constantly in the news. That’s understandable since forecasts anticipate that there will soon be tens of billions of connected devices, helping the IoT sector to generate more than £7.5 trillion worth of economic activity worldwide. In fact, according to McKinsey Global, the IoT economic impact on factories, retail settings, work sites, offices and homes could total as much as £3.55 trillion by 2025.

Oil refinery control room screen

One area where the IoT is driving development is in smart buildings. Today’s more complex buildings are generating vast quantities of data, but building management systems (BMS) are not leveraging that data as much as they could, and are not always capturing the right data to make useful decisions. With 42 per cent of the world’s energy consumed by buildings, facility managers face escalating demand for environmentally friendly, high-performance buildings that are efficient and sustainable.  The data collected can help them to achieve this.

However, many facility managers lack the time and resources to investigate the convenient methods that can help them to turn the flood of IoT and other sensor data they’re exposed to, into actionable insights

Forced to do more with less 
Reduced budgets force building owners to manage sophisticated building systems with fewer resources. This issue is further aggravated by older systems becoming inefficient over time. Even when there is sufficient budget, it is increasingly difficult and time-consuming to hire, develop, and retain staff with the skills and knowledge to take advantage of BMS capabilities.

Facility managers also face challenges maintaining existing equipment performance. Components can break or fall out of calibration, and general wear and tear often leads to a marked decline in a building’s operational efficiency. Changes in building use and occupancy can contribute to indoor air-quality problems, uncomfortable environments, and higher overall energy costs. These changes begin immediately after construction is complete.

Owners often undertake recommissioning projects to fine-tune their buildings. Such work is intended to bring the facility back to its best possible operation level. However, recommissioning is often done as a reactive measure, and traditional maintenance may not identify all areas of energy waste. Operational inefficiencies that are not obvious, or that do not result in occupant discomfort, may go undetected.

Upskilling the current workforce
Many tools have come onto the market over the past decade to help employees get a better understanding of their facilities and assist them in their day-to-day operations and long-term planning. This can include anything from dashboards and automated analytics platforms to machine-learning optimisation engines. However, much like the sophisticated BMS platforms available today, for each tool you deploy, more investment is needed in time for training. In fact, research shows that lacking training is evident with roughly only 20 per cent of facility managers using 80 per cent of capabilities available to them within their BMS. The remaining 80 per cent use a very limited amount (20 per cent) of the potential functionality in their system.

With personnel turnover and competing facility-management responsibilities, many facilities are left without staff who have the time to learn the full capabilities of these tools. Of course, outsourcing different functions is one way to overcome these issues. However, vendors must be managed closely to ensure efficacy, and to ensure that outsourcing costs do not accrue significantly as third parties spend more time on-site.

In tech we trust
Technology has become an important part of building management, as BMS play an ever bigger role in how facility managers perform their jobs and operate buildings. Newer technologies like data visualisation dashboards let facility managers view building performance metrics in a single window, helping them to spot trends and gather insights. By visualising data in terms of graphs, charts, and conversion to different equivalents – for example, kWh to pound cost or kWh to carbon footprint, an experienced building operator can manually identify areas of concern for closer inspection.

Yet, while dashboards can be helpful in determining building behaviour, the data is often complex and challenging to interpret. In fact, even if building staff have the time and skills to review and understand the data, dashboard information alone tells only part of the building performance story. Facility managers can identify where inefficiencies exist but usually not why. This requires additional troubleshooting and investigation. Therefore, dashboards are most effective for simple monitoring in environments where there are plenty of trained staff to perform troubleshooting and identify the root causes of issues.

Analytics is the answer 
To gain more from a BMS deployment, many facility managers are turning to data analytics software to interpret large volumes of BMS data. Best-in-class software automatically trends energy and equipment use, identifies faults, provides root-cause analysis, and prioritises opportunities for improvement based on cost, comfort and maintenance impact. This software complements BMS dashboards because it takes the additional step of interpreting the data – showing not just where but why inefficiencies occur. Engineers can then convert this intelligence into “actionable information” for troubleshooting and preventative maintenance, as well as for solving more complicated operational challenges. 

Using this software, facility managers can proactively optimise and commission building operations more effectively than with a BMS alone. It enables them to understand why a building is or isn’t operating efficiently so that they can introduce permanent solutions rather than temporary fixes. For instance, with data analytics, facility managers can proactively identify operational problems such as equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced. Moreover, it can do this before critical failure and before it has an impact on the building occupants. Repairs can be scheduled before an emergency arises, eliminating costly short-notice or out-of-hours replacement and avoiding failure and downtime. With this proactive approach, equipment becomes more reliable, the cost of replacement and repair can be much lower, and occupants are assured of optimal comfort. In fact, by following best practice, they can even reduce HVAC energy costs by up to 30%.

The Future
Smart, connected technology has taken us beyond the human ability to manage what can amount to hundreds of thousands of data points in large buildings. Efficient operations require a proactive response. Analytics solutions effectively manage the new state of information overload created by a digital world and filter out what’s not valuable to you. For example, they can provide insight on how to fix problems when they are first observed, before total failure. This predictive maintenance approach means capital assets can be preserved and significant energy savings can be made. The advent of IoT means that we must shift our approach to facility management in order to deliver against the financial, wellbeing and sustainability targets of today’s facilities. By investing in a sophisticated BMS, users can uncover which data to ignore and which to act upon. After all, data for data’s sake is useless. Being able to use a building’s performance data to augment operational efficiency, increase occupant comfort, and improve overall energy consumption so that the financial well-being of buildings can be sustained, is of paramount importance.

@SchneiderElec #PAuto #IoT

Power distribution for the digital age.

01/06/2017
Éirin Madden, Offer Manager at Schneider Electric Ireland talks about the smart devices that enable facility managers to take preventive measures to mitigate potential risks in power distribution.

Éirinn Madden

We are currently witnessing the rise of a new chapter in power distribution. After all, today’s digital age is going to impact our lives and business as much as the introduction of electricity did at the end of the 19th century. This is going to bring with it a wave of innovations in power that will blur the lines between the energy and digital space. The traditional centralised model is giving way to new economic models and opportunities, which redefine the core basics of power distribution; efficiency, reliability, safety, security, and performance.

Many of us know the inconvenience of experiencing a blackout at home, but the impact is much more far reaching when it occurs in your corporate facility – from lost revenue and unhappy tenants, to more extreme scenarios like the loss of life. Recently, tourists and shoppers in central London were plunged into darkness after an underground electric cable faulted on a high voltage network caused an area-wide power cut. Theatre shows were cancelled and shops were closed, leaving shoppers and storeowners frustrated and disappointed.

A call to get smart 
How can such outages be prevented? At the core of smart power distribution systems are smart devices that enable facility managers to take preventive measures to mitigate potential risks. These devices have become more than just responsible for controlling a single mechanism. They now measure and collect data, and provide control functions. Furthermore, they enable facility and maintenance personnel to access the power distribution network. 

In many places throughout the power network the existing intelligence can be embedded inside other equipment, such as the smart trip units of circuit breakers. These smart breakers can provide power and energy data, as well as information on their performance, including breaker status, contact wear, alerts, and alarms. In addition to core protection functions, many devices are also capable of autonomous and coordinated control, without any need for user intervention.

Today, hardware such as the Masterpact MTZ Air Circuit Breaker (ACB) has evolved to include new digital capabilities. One of these primary new digital technologies revolves around communication abilities, providing a way to send the data the device is gathering to building analytic software, where it can be put to use.

Building analytics is another enabler for smart power distribution systems, offering an advanced lifecycle managed service that delivers automated fault detection, diagnosis, and real-time performance monitoring for buildings. Information is captured from building systems and sent to cloud-based data storage. From that point, an advanced analytics engine uses artificial intelligence to process building data and continuously diagnose facility performance by identifying equipment and system faults, sequence of operation improvements, system trends, and energy usage. 

Combatting operational efficiency decline
One of the biggest challenges facing facility managers today is the need to maintain existing equipment performance. Components are prone to breaking or falling out of calibration, and general wear and tear often results in a marked decline of a buildings’ operational efficiency. What’s more, reduced budgets are forcing building owners to manage building systems with fewer resources. The issue is then further exacerbated by older systems becoming inefficient over time. Even when there is budget at hand, it is time-consuming and increasingly difficult to attract, develop, and retain staff with the right skills and knowledge to make sense of the building data being generated. 

When it comes to switchgear in particular, there is the challenge around spending when it comes to maintenance and services. There is no doubt that regularly scheduled maintenance extends the life of existing switchgear. However, at some point facilities must decide whether to maintain or replace with new equipment. Of course, although keeping up with equipment maintenance has its challenges, especially with limited resources, the safety and reliability of a facility depends on it and must be the priority. 

Looking ahead with building analytics
For many building owners and occupants, they are also looking at how building analytics can be used beyond just safety and reliability to make a difference to the bigger picture of workplace efficiency. From comfort to space, and occupant services, to management dashboards, organisations are now placing more emphasis on well-being at work. When building analytics recommendations are implemented, the results are obvious – enhanced building performance, optimised energy efficiency through continual commissioning, and reduced operating costs — all with a strong return on investment and an improved building environment.

@SchneiderElec #Power #PAuto @tomalexmcmahon

Cybersecurity at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

08/02/2017
Ray Dooley, Product Manager Industrial Control at Schneider Electric Ireland examines the importance of maintaining security as we progress through Industry 4.o.
Ray Dooley, Schneider Electric Ireland

Ray Dooley, Schneider Electric Ireland

A technical evolution has taken place, which has made cyber threats more potent than at any other time in our history. As businesses seek to embrace Industry 4.0, cybersecurity protection must be a top priority for Industrial Control Systems (ICS). These attacks are financially crippling, reduce production and business innovation, and cost lives.

In years gone by, legacy ICS were developed with proprietary technology and were isolated from the outside world, so physical perimeter security was deemed adequate and cyber security was not relevant. However, today the rise of digital manufacturing means many control systems use open or standardised technologies to both reduce costs and improve performance, employing direct communications between control and business systems. Companies must now be proactive to secure their systems online as well as offline.

This exposes vulnerabilities previously thought to affect only office and business computers, so cyber attacks now come from both inside and outside of the industrial control system network. The problem here is that a successful cyber attack on the ICS domain can have a fundamentally more severe impact than a similar incident in the IT domain.

The proliferation of cyber threats has prompted asset owners in industrial environments to search for security solutions that can protect their assets and prevent potentially significant monetary loss and brand erosion. While some industries, such as financial services, have made progress in minimising the risk of cyber attacks, the barriers to improving cybersecurity remain high. More open and collaborative networks have made systems more vulnerable to attack. Furthermore, end user awareness and appreciation of the level of risk is inadequate across most industries outside critical infrastructure environments.

Uncertainty in the regulatory landscape also remains a significant restraint. With the increased use of commercial off-the-shelf IT solutions in industrial environments, control system availability is vulnerable to malware targeted at commercial systems. Inadequate expertise in industrial IT networks is a sector-wide challenge. Against this backdrop, organisations need to partner with a solutions provider who understands the unique characteristics and challenges of the industrial environment and is committed to security.

Assess the risks
A Defence-in-Depth approach is recommended. This starts with risk assessment – the process of analysing and documenting the environment and related systems to identify, and prioritise potential threats. The assessment examines the possible threats from internal sources, such as disgruntled employees and contractors and external sources such as hackers and vandals. It also examines the potential threats to continuity of operation and assesses the value and vulnerability of assets such as proprietary recipes and other intellectual properties, processes, and financial data. Organisations can use the outcome of this assessment to prioritise cybersecurity resource investments.

Develop a security plan
Existing security products and technologies can only go part way to securing an automation solution. They must be deployed in conjunction with a security plan. A well designed security plan coupled with diligent maintenance and oversight is essential to securing modern automation systems and networks. As the cybersecurity landscape evolves, users should continuously reassess their security policies and revisit the defence-in-depth approach to mitigate against any future attacks. Cyber attacks on critical manufacturers in the US alone have increased by 20 per cent, so it’s imperative that security plans are up to date.

Upskilling the workforce
There are increasingly fewer skilled operators in today’s plants, as the older, expert workforce moves into retirement. So the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents a golden opportunity for manufacturing to bridge the gap and bolster the workforce, putting real-time status and diagnostic information at their disposal. At the same time, however, this workforce needs to be raised with the cybersecurity know-how to cope with modern threats.

In this regard, training is crucial to any defence-in-depth campaign and the development of a security conscious culture. There are two phases to such a programme: raising general awareness of policy and procedure, and job-specific classes. Both should be ongoing with update sessions given regularly, only then will employees and organisations see the benefit.

Global industry is well on the road to a game-changing Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is not some hyped up notion years away from reality. It’s already here and has its origins in technologies and functionalities developed by visionary automation suppliers more than 15 years ago. Improvements in efficiency and profitability, increased innovation, and better management of safety, performance and environmental impact are just some of the benefits of an Internet of Things-enabled industrial environment. However, without an effective cybersecurity programme at its heart, ICS professionals will not be able to take advantage of the new technologies at their disposal for fear of the next breach.

@SchneiderElec #Pauto #Industrie40


Increased density per cabinet, reduced volume drives inventory & energy savings!

11/06/2014

Schneider Electric has released a new I/O family for its Foxboro Evo process automation system.  The Foxboro® Compact 200 Series I/O fieldbus modules support more I/O modules in less space, reducing footprint up to 50 percent and offering significant potential for cost savings.

foxboro200blkThe new FBMs are especially valuable for new implementations in confined spaces, such as offshore platforms, and for adding capacity to existing installations without incurring the trouble and cost of facility expansion. Higher-density baseplates and optional cabinets contribute further to footprint reduction, which also drives significant savings in weight, energy consumption and inventory over traditional I/O offerings.

“Cabinet space in the industrial world is always an issue. For example, our top industry experts have calculated that space on an offshore platform can be valued at tens of thousands of dollars per square foot or more, so anything we can return to operators is money in their pockets,” said Thad Frost, director of fieldbus product management, Schneider Electric. “Our new Foxboro Compact 200 Series I/O modules are based on proven, recognized and highly reliable Foxboro FBM technology, but now available in a more compact form factor to help customers optimize space within their I/O infrastructure. By taking advantage of new Foxboro Evo future-proof technology, our customers can preserve their existing investments, reap additional cost savings and realize higher ROI.”

In keeping with the company’s commitment to delivering future-proof technology through its Foxboro Evo process automation system, the Compact 200 Series I/O modules are compatible with multiple generations of Foxboro controllers, software and infrastructure, and they provide the ability to mix and match I/O types on the same controller. They are the latest addition to the Foxboro Evo system’s flexible I/O sub-system family, which includes its 100-percent software-configurable Foxboro Intelligent Marshalling universal I/O solution; competitive migration plug-and-play modules; and intrinsically safe I/O options.

With advanced tools and applications delivered across a high-speed, fault-tolerant and cyber-secure hardware platform, including the integration of the company’s world-leading Triconex® safety system, the Foxboro Evo process automation system, now offered by Schneider Electric, improves operational insight and integrity and delivers the lowest total cost of automation and highest return on assets. Additionally, the system’s advanced applications improve the ability of plant personnel to contribute toward the success of the business by streamlining and contextualizing the information they need to make the right business decisions at the right time. And because the company’s broad portfolio of roles-based Foxboro engineering tools and productivity applications are integrated within it, the system provides superior visibility into historical, real-time and predictive operating information to help drive production efficiency.


Invensys acquisition: “Now, it is up to how well we execute.”

24/03/2014
Craig Resnick of Arc says “Schneider Electric acquisition of Invensys creates value for automation market”

Schneider Electric announced the completion of its acquisition of Invensys on January 17, 2014. The acquisition of the €2.18billion ($3 billion) software, automation, and controls company will enhance Schneider Electric’s position as a solutions integrator, especially for automation in the process and power generation industries.

schinvThe merger should create synergies between the two companies’ software for energy automation, industrial automation, and process automation, while also providing a wider service base for its customers as the combined company will be able to reach more market segments throughout the world due to the minimal overlap of markets and customer base. Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric, and Clemens Blum, Executive Vice-President of the Industry business unit both commented on the complementary technologies and capabilities of both companies and the potential value to their customers worldwide.

At their recent Orlando Industry Forum in Orlando (FL USA), ARC Advisory Group met jointly with leaders of both firms. Just weeks after beginning to collaborate, both firms talked about their high degree of cultural match, and voiced optimism for the merger as a growth deal, rather than acquisition of an installed base.

While clearly stating that Invensys developments and operations will continue, there are strong areas of shared knowledge that ARC expects to benefit both companies.

  • How will this translate to plant owner/operators, especially those who have been using Invensys products for many years?
  • How well will their investments be protected?
  • How will Schneider Electric position and use these products going forward?

Invensys’ large client base will need to hear specific and unequivocal answers to these questions before moving forward and extending their commitments to the newly merged organization.

The firms have been making joint calls on key customers and, according to company executives; a more detailed integration roadmap will be developed via a “transparent, thoughtful, and deliberate process.” While the merger now elevates Schneider Electric to the top rank of the automation business, as company executives acknowledged, “Now, it is up to how well we execute.”

Strategic Fit to Drive Higher Growth and Value Creation
From Schneider Electric’s perspective, the Invensys acquisition augments its business in industry and infrastructure by boosting its positions in key process segments and strengthening its software for operational efficiency. The company cites that industrial automation is a strategic and attractive business for the firm. As a global specialist in energy management, the solutions of the Schneider Electric Industry business unit are a key part of its portfolio. The Invensys assets help the company better address owner/operators’ challenges relative to productivity, input costs management, workforce scarcity, wage and raw material inflation, complexity of production constraints, and sustainable development.

Integrate Power and Automation
Owner/operators today seek solutions that converge previously separate domains, such as power and automation. This was a prime reason Schneider Electric went forward with this acquisition. Energy management in electro-intensive industries requires deeper architectural integration. Software is critical to converge IT and operational technologies to enable operational efficiency. Convergence involves integrating:

  • Business systems, such as customer management, order management, supply chain management, and document management
  • Operations management, such as production management, quality compliance, asset utilization, process analytics and decision support
  • Control and supervision, such as production automation systems, and interfaces for operators (HMI); and finally
  • Design and simulation, such as supply chain planning, process design, and simulation

What Invensys Brings to the Table
Invensys is a global automation player with large installed base and a major software presence. The company has strong credibility with end users in the refining, chemical, power, pharmaceutical, and food & beverage industries. The company has a strong software business, with particular strengths in HMI/plant intelligence, simulation, optimization, and asset management. It brings major brands in process automation and safety and global reach in process automation, safety, and instrumentation systems via its Foxboro, and Triconex brands. The Eurotherm brand adds temperature and process controllers.

In industrial software, Invensys is a major supplier, including design, simulation, optimization, operations management, and asset management via its Wonderware, SimSci, and Avantis brands. Except for parts of the Wonderware portfolio, these brands will fill obvious gaps in Schneider Electric’s process offering.

Invensys’ Market Position
With Invensys, Schneider Electric becomes a leader in process safety via Triconex process safety and critical control systems. Schneider Electric gets a DCS offering with a large installed base via Foxboro, which has significant brownfield expansion potential. Schneider Electric can expand this potential with its own portfolio of low and medium voltage drives, motor control, and smart infrastructure intelligence. The company also gains domain expertise and execution capabilities in key segments, including refining, petrochemicals and power generation. Schneider Electric will no longer be viewed largely as a strong factory automation company. With Invensys, it clearly becomes a strong process automation company as well.

Even more to the point, the combined software and product portfolio will provide a far more complete suite of converged automation and power solutions.

Conclusion
From ARC’s perspective, Schneider Electric’s acquisition of Invensys will be a positive development for owner/operators. Owner/operators would not have been as well served had Invensys been bought by a direct competitor focused more on its installed base, which would have introduced significant product redundancies and might well require expensive and painful migration.

Also, some owner/operators were uncertain of the long term prospects for Invensys remaining independent. That uncertainty can now go away. Schneider Electric has a strong balance sheet, a long-term commitment to industrial automation, and a very good track record with industrial acquisitions. The joint entity is also in an excellent position to supply the converged solutions in areas such as power and automation that many of today owner/operators seek.

Owner/operators, however, will want to see action and proof points to see how well this acquisition is being executed and how well the firm integrates its platforms to exploit obvious synergies.

ARC recommends that owner/operators should actively participate in the company’s upcoming customer conferences, looking for both continuity and a combined vision showing solutions that leverage both Invensys’ process solutions and Schneider Electric’s power and energy management solutions.


Thoughts and comments on Invensys happenings last month!

14/10/2013
Nick Denbow, in the October issue of Industrial Automation and Process Control Insider shares his thoughts on the news from Invensuys during the past month. 

iaiInvensys buys InduSoft – for OEM/machine business
Invensys pulled off a surprise acquisition this month with an agreed takeover of InduSoft. Based in Austin, Texas, InduSoft is a manufacturer and supplier of HMI/ SCADA systems particularly focused on OEM and machine building markets – the main point made by the Invensys official release, which quoted the InduSoft users as “primarily industrial computer manufacturers and machine and system builders, who embed InduSoft software into their products”. Ravi Gopinath, president of the Invensys software business, said “InduSoft strengthens and broadens our leading software solutions portfolio, particularly in the embedded HMI segment, and provides a continuing driver for growth”.

Indusoft poised to expand
For privately owned InduSoft the approach from Invensys – it was not by any means the first such approach in their long relationship – came at the right time. With 90+ employees, no debt, and significant R&D spend, the next step to be made in their geographical business expansion is to move outside their established bases in the USA, Brazil and Germany, and needs much more resource. Invensys can provide the resource, and has an established distribution network: they also have worked with InduSoft before, since the two firms co-operated to enable Invensys to develop InTouch CE, based on InduSoft technology. Marcia Gadbois, president of InduSoft, commented that the deal would bring “end-to-end HMI, SCADA and MES solution to our customers”, adding historian and advanced applications such as MES software and solutions.

European Advantage!
● Post haste: In their enthusiasm to tell their customers the news of the acquisition by Invensys, the InduSoft newsletter email announcing the deal arrived in the INSIDER inbox in the middle of the night UK time on 24 September, when the announcement was officially embargoed until the Tuesday morning US time, ie 1400 hours UK time. After a little surprise from both camps in Europe, the deal was confirmed, but with the time advantage helping the INSIDER, compared to USA based websites, publication of the news led to the best day ever for hits on the INSIDER blog, with 250 readers of that story in one morning!

European operations
Mike Bradshaw, vp of European sales at InduSoft for the last two years, is wanting to grow their presence in the UK and Europe, building on the OEM technical support and order processing base in Germany. He says he has found the company an exciting place to work, and anticipates that it will continue as an independent business within the Invensys software business group, with continued development – particularly for example in terms of the Wonderware interface. InduSoft already offer a gateway that allows an interface to Wonderware – a fact slightly embellished in the press release:

mikebradshaw“Companies using InduSoft software will be able to expand their solutions with Wonderware supervisory, historian and manufacturing operations management software”.

They already have been able to do that, but the real point for Invensys is, as Norm Thorlakson, vp of HMI and supervisory software at Invensys commented: “InduSoft technology quickly makes us more competitive and gives us immediate entry to new customers and a stronger OEM sales channel, with a focus on machine builders and embedded systems”.

Bradshaw confirms the view that InduSoft will add horizontal reach to the Wonderware offering, into the InduSoft OEM and machinery customers, particularly for smaller systems. Bradshaw should know – he worked for Wonderware previously. Founded in 1997, InduSoft has delivered more than a total of 250,000 HMI software licenses to be embedded in the products of more than 700 customers worldwide.

Users hear of continued Invensys R&D investment
The InduSoft acquisition announcement was timed to be made in the opening session of the September Invensys User Conference in San Antonio, Texas, as another fact demonstrating their continued development activity and investment in the business, under the (imminent) Schneider Group banner. Possibly some unscrupulous competitors have suggested that this would no longer be the case!

In another major product announcement, Mike Caliel released the Foxboro Evo next generation DCS and safety system, the development promised in an interview with London based analysts last May (INSIDER June, page 4). At the time, Wayne Edmunds (ceo of Invensys Group) stressed the “far more flattering cost profile” of the new unit, but not surprisingly this was not a major feature in Mike Caliel’s presentation to the users..

Foxboro Evo launch
Caliel said the Foxboro Evo offers a high- speed, fault tolerant and cyber secure hardware platform, integrating the capabilities of the Triconex safety system. The name Evo applies because the product is an evolution of the proven I/A series DCS/Process Automation System introduced in the 1980s, and also because it is structured so that as companies/ users themselves evolve, the system can also grow.

MikeTellerIn a recent presentation in London, Mike Teller, md for Invensys Systems for northern Europe and Africa, explained that the coupling of control and safety at the heart of the Evo enables state-of-the- art cyber security throughout the PAS structure. Current Foxboro I/A Series DCS users can migrate to the Foxboro Evo system with little or no downtime: users of competitor’s automation systems can also migrate to the Evo, using the existing wiring terminations. Michael McKenzie, distributed control systems specialist for BP in Brisbane, Australia, had faced this issue. “We needed to upgrade the vast majority of our DCS, but like most sites, we didn’t have the luxury of a site-wide shutdown to make a full change possible. We were facing a substantial obsolescence issue, which we had ranked as a significant risk to on-going operations, so we needed a solution that would allow us to upgrade components as we needed them, without sacrificing functionality or usability for operators. The new Invensys system allowed for a much easier upgrade of all components.”

Cyber Security
In the Invensys London presentation, Jay Abdallah, senior lead engineer at Invensys EMEA Cyber Security Services based in Dubai, explained some of the aspects and background to his work. The scene has changed radically since 2010, with SCADA and ICS cyber-espionage and malware vulnerabilities and attacks becoming far more numerous than any other. Power companies are targeted by approx. 10,000 cyber-attacks per month. The hackers who target proprietary ICS, PLC or SCADA systems use typically specific knowledge of a platform they are to attack – often by being, or using, and ex-employee (who might bear a grudge of some form). Abdallah discussed the Shamoon virus, discovered in August 2012, which did not reach through to the actual plant operating systems, but destroyed around 42,000 office based computer systems in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reaction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can be more positive than in the democratic west: the King issued a directive that everyone had 2 months to install a DMZ, and that Windows 2003 and Microsoft XP would no longer be used.

Reinforcing the message
The main message from Abdallah was that “Creating and Maintaining a Cyber Security plan is absolutely critical”. In Europe, the impression is that industrial managers treat EU legislation as irrelevant: but a study by Tripwire (a provider of risk- based security and compliance management solutions) and the Ponemon Institute (dedicated to advancing responsible information and privacy/data protection management practices in business and government) discusses a new EU Directive on cyber security. This states that organizations that do not have “suitable” IT security in place to protect their digital assets will face extremely heavy fiscal penalties: ie fines, “of up to 2% of their annual global turnover”. Mind bendingly large. The survey found that 28% of organizations do not have a security strategy, and only 5% have an up-to-date risk-based security management programme.

The problem was then illustrated by the security breach at the Adobe Systems HQ, where encrypted customer credit card data and Adobe passwords were removed from their system. This is the sort of breach the EU Directive is aimed to prevent, by requiring proper security.

• No corporate combination stand for Schneider/Invensys this year at Offshore Europe (OE13) –
we have that to look forward to in two years. For the moment the Schneider space looked a little unloved and bare, although they were showing the fairly topical subsea power distribution systems.

“One” to “Connect!” Company plans ahead!

27/02/2012

The automation and engineering market has not remained unscathed in the current difficulties occasioned by  imprudent not to say foolish investments by speculators, bankers and lest face it adventurers throughout the world. It is, I think, inevitable that we will be suffering the effects for the foreseeable future and those charged with navigating us out of these stormy waters have their work cut out for them.

It is always to interesting to see how the large companies plan ahead and what lessons they have (or have not) learned from the last turbulent four or five years.

Schneider Electric hosted a Capital Market Day in Paris(F) last week (23 Feb 2012).  Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President and CEO, and Emmanuel Babeau, CFO and member of the management board with others unveiled the Group’s strategic ambition, operational priorities and financial targets under the Connect program for the period 2012 – 2014.

A big step forward in the Group’s transformation with One company program (2009-2011)
With One, Schneider Electric was re-organized into 5 customer-focused businesses and strengthened its integrated portfolio to establish itself as the global reference in energy management.  The Group became a leading provider of high value-added solutions and developed great positions in new economies which respectively represented 37% and 39% of Group sales in 2011, a significant jump from 2008.  The Group emerged from One leaner, simpler and more agile.  Under One, it simplified its supply chain, reduced the number of its brands, generated about €1 billion of productivity and drove operational efficiency by reducing support functions costs to sales ratio by 1.5 points.

“Our company program “One” was a success and a big step forward in the transformation of the Group’s profile.  It also laid a very solid foundation for our future: One brand, One company for our customers and employees, One organization everywhere, and a far higher efficiency than in 2008.”, said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President and CEO

“Connect, our new company program, is another major step in the consistent deployment of our strategy. With Connect, we will extend the strong foundation of One to all our strategic levers: products and solutions, mature and new economies, our people, while continuing to drive efficiency at all levels”.

Connect: four major initiatives to reach a new high in performance

  • Connect to Customers: Further improve the performance of its business models and be a leader in products and in solutions.

• Partner excellence: Continue to grow in products in a win-win relationship with partners by creating new opportunities for Distributors and Partners, leveraging the strength of “One” Schneider Electric and leading product innovation. This initiative will further reinforce the Group’s leadership position in the Product Business.
• Solution excellence: Leverage the Group’s unique value proposition with its solution capabilities, improve equipment cost competitiveness, reinforce execution while being more selective on projects, and boost service sales. This initiative will temporarily impact the Solution Business’s growth but will raise significantly its profitability and return profile.
• Tailored supply chain: Bring the supply chain to a new level of excellence by aligning organization to customer needs and providing differentiated manufacturing and delivery models for each customer segment. This initiative should lead to higher customer satisfaction and inventory efficiency.

  • Connect Everywhere: Identify key investment areas in new economies and create new opportunities in mature countries to be a leader in both mature and new economies

• Grow in new economies: Expand geographical coverage by increasing the Group’s presence in the fast-growing second-tier cities and further penetrate these markets with mid-market segment offerings supported by strong brands with wide local coverage. The initiative will continue to support the long term growth potential of new economies in Schneider Electric’s portfolio.
• Grow in mature countries: Grow activities that develop independently from traditional capex trends with a focus on opex-driven opportunities and new businesses. This includes developing installed base and energy management services, capturing the smart grid opportunity while investing in new businesses in areas such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, home automation and carbon management. With this initiative, the Group aims to create its own growth momentum in the mature countries.

  • Connect People: Create a culture and an environment for the Group’s employees’ development and performance:

• Engaged leaders: Train leaders with Schneider Electric University and promote Diversity
• Engaged individuals: Support employee development via training, empowerment and cross-business mobility
• Engaged workplace: Step-up collaboration & communities, regroup

  • Connect for Efficiency: A new chapter in the Group’s history of profitable and responsible growth:

• Industrial Productivity: Raise the bar with tailored supply chain and drive significant industrial productivity through purchasing, footprint optimization, supply chain flow re-design and transportation rationalization. This will be supported by a best-in-class planning process by customer segment and an IT system aligned with supply chain segmentation.
• Support Functions Efficiency: Leverage scale to drive savings on support functions, through non-production purchases rationalization, more globalization of corporate functions, simplification of business and country level set-up, and implementation of acquisition synergies. At the same time, the company will continue to invest in commercial presence and R&D to support future growth. Total R&D expenses to sales ratio is expected to move towards 5 % of sales going forward.
• Planet & Society Barometer: Maintain best-in-class standard in environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Management compensation is partly tied to barometer performance.

Ambitious long term financial targets for attractive shareholder returns
Over the long term, the key company priorities remain focused on profitable growth, cash conversion and capital efficiency.  The management views the Connect program as another opportunity to improve the Group’s through cycle performance on those metrics.  With Connect, the Group is setting the course for solution excellence, with an aim to raise profitability and to lower capital employed. Consistent deployment of Group strategy with disciplined and synergistic acquisitions to complement organic growth should bring forward long term value creation.

• More about the financial performance and projections of Schneider Electric on their corporate page.