Software development is becoming more efficient, vertical
The words "vertical," "integration," and "efficiency," came up often during the presentations at the 2015 Software User Conference at the Westin Hotel in Chicago on Oct. 20. The keynote presentation, "Transforming the Industrial Software Market" by Dr. Ravi Gopinath and Rob McGreevy from Schneider Electric emphasized these points consistently.
Gopinath, executive vice president for Schneider Electric’s Software Business, discussed how scalability and diversity are very important in today’s global marketplace. He said that it is vital to be in constant contact with customers in a global market and that a return on assets (ROA) and achieving high efficiency will result in greater returns.
Gopinath said, "It is critical that our software integrates more and more effectively." If the software doesn’t work to specifications, then it will cause problems and headaches for everyone involved. And while having good assets is important, that’s not the only factor to consider.
"It’s not just about making assets perform, but in today’s world assets are more and more connected," Gopinath said. "The information being sent offers a whole new world of complexity."
He added that it is important to present information through the software so the people using the software can make the right decision. Condensing all of that abstract information is getting easier, but synthesizing and interpreting information can be a challenge.
McGreevy, vice president of operations for asset and information, said that there is a growing need to be vertical as well as horizontal. Being horizontal and invested in a number of different industries is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if the technology used in these industries only scratches the surface of what needs to be done.
"More industry specificity for better efficiency in specific industries in the long-term creates greater value," he said.
Better efficiency comes from integrating technology into the day-to-day operations and making it seamless and more of an extension of a worker’s task is vital. The cloud and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are two of the major technological breakthroughs that are a part of Industry 4.0.
To do that, McGreevy said that focusing on operations and asset and information management are going to be critical for the future as technology becomes more sophisticated and intertwined in day-to-day business.
"We need that industry specificity," McGreevy said. "Regardless of industry, there is a need for domain specificity to help optimize for users and develop better best practices."
McGreevy talked about the need to improve user access so that anyone—front office, back office, or remote field workers—can access the information and make informed, real-time decisions. Improving operational productivity and data accuracy goes hand in hand with improving user access as well as better support for situational awareness.
Maintenance is another major focus for the future, according to McGreevy. He emphasized condition-based, predictive, and risk-based maintenance getting more focus. He said there is a closing gap between enterprise resource planning (ERP) and smart devices and because of that there needs to be improved asset reliability and availability as the technology becomes more integrated.
McGreevy said that predictive analytics and maintenance are receiving a particular amount of emphasis because, when done correctly, they can help maximize economic returns, reduce downtime and maintenance costs, and increase production.
Technology, McGreevy said, is becoming more high fidelity, particularly in the last few years. He added that the technology works best when it remains in the background.
Some of Schneider Electric’s software includes Avantis enterprise asset management, eDNA real-time data historian, PRiSM predictive analytics, SimSci for modeling and simulation, and Wonderware for information management.
– Chris Vavra is production editor, CFE Media, Control Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org.
– See additional stories from the 2015 Software User Conference below.