Disrupting industrial automation with subscription services

Schneider Electric
Friday, 01 October, 2021

It’s an extremely exciting time within industrial automation, an industry that has been renowned for pushing the boundaries of computer and information technology for almost half a century, reaching a tipping point. Innovations in technology are driving newfound levels of advancement in process automation & control — and at speed. The advent of cloud, big data analytic platforms, data centres and new communication protocols supporting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), are pervading the industrial and infrastructure landscape. And with the convergence of information and operational technology, coupled with new commercial models helping break down silos and deliver new levels of integrated intelligence; manufacturers and operators are being forced to rethink their technology and transformation strategies.

This rapidly changing landscape warrants new thinking in terms of the traditional rigidity of industrial software licensing, an area that is ripe for disruption with Gartner predicting that by 2020 all new entrants and 80% of historical vendors will offer subscription-based business models, regardless of where the software resides¹ . Whilst subscription is increasingly inherent within our day-to-day lives with almost all of us subscribing to at least one or a combination of smart phone, entertainment, transport, communication and cloud solutions; industrial automation has been slower to respond with software dissemination largely based on traditional perpetual licensing models. However, the vast majority of enterprise-software buyers are already considering or have begun transitioning to subscription products, citing flexibility and the ability to manage costs as the main motivators driving this change².

Whilst AVEVA has been offering a variety of subscription solutions for some time, the introduction of AVEVA Flex is the market’s first end-to-end industrial software subscription program, offering customers complete commercial and technical flexibility in accessing its comprehensive software portfolio to leverage transformative technologies and expedite business value. Leveraging its leading Monitoring & Control portfolio to help connect the asset and operations lifecycle, AVEVA Flex includes a variety of subscription options that empower customers to focus on their competitive position into the future by adopting the solutions they need from the outset, with the agility to revise software and license allocation as needs and demands evolve.

Case in point: SCG Chemicals, Thailand

SCG Chemicals is one of the largest petrochemical companies in Thailand and a key industry player in Asia. The company’s integrated operations include upstream production of olefins and downstream production of polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride. With its tightly integrated business, the company was at risk that individual equipment failure could shut down the entire production chain with direct implications for top and bottom line financial performance. To address this risk, SCG Chemicals pursued a digital transformation initiative to harness data to build an advanced asset performance management (APM) solution to monitor critical assets and predict failure towards a goal of zero plant shutdowns. The company partnered with AVEVA to develop a Digital Reliability Platform (DRP), a complete asset performance management solution to predict equipment health, monitor performance, and enable advanced maintenance to eliminate unplanned downtime. Using a mix of on-premise and cloud-based applications, the solution integrates online and offline equipment data to visualize plant performance, enhance workforce efficiency, and apply artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive maintenance and resolution. SCG Chemicals validated the Digital Reliability Platform and commissioned its Digital Reliability Center, the company’s central hub for data collection, analysis, visualization, and maintenance operations through a five-month pilot project, enabled by the AVEVA Flex subscription program. With the success of the DRP, SCG Chemicals is easily scaling up the platform to its 15 plants as well as its joint ventures.

Platform requirements for asset reliability SCG Chemicals envisioned a Digital Reliability Platform to apply digital innovation to management and maintenance processes. In addition, the approach matched the company’s broader digital transformation imperative to become a data-driven organization to advance its position as a leader in the petrochemical industry. In evaluating technology partners for its APM strategy, SCG Chemicals focused on three factors:

  • End-to-end solution — ability to deliver a complete APM solution to integrate and analyze data, visualize performance, and manage maintenance activity.
  • Workforce enhancement — tools for teams to access data quickly and guide actions to perform maintenance tasks using enhanced information via tablet, video wall, and mobile operator rounds.
  • Strategic partnership — a technology provider with the deployment expertise, deep knowledge of process manufacturing, with a subscription program that gives full flexibility to access a solution ecosystem.

The Digital Reliability Platform utilizes digital innovations to increase maintenance efficiency. The solution provides SCG with an enhanced ability to maintain equipment in various plants within its business, both in Thailand and abroad. The central components of the Digital Reliability Platform include predictive analysis, data center, smart workforce and advanced maintenance and 3D Virtual Plant.

Plant reliability increased from 98% to 100% and significant cost saving delivered. SCG has identified some key areas where its AVEVA solutions are delivering business value as follows:

  • Asset reliability and performance optimization – plant reliability has increased from 98% to 100% through catch identification to avoid asset failure costs. The ROI from this saving was 9X, making it a best-in-class solution.
  • Standardized work execution and safety risk management – maintenance costs have decreased delivering savings of 40% through greater operational and workforce efficiency, as well as improved work scheduling.
  • Asset strategy optimization and remediation – reduced/optimized planned maintenance through use of data from IIoT sensors and real-time analytics, reducing costs by up to 30%.
  • Access to information and visualization – the time to retrieve actionable information has reduced to less than 10 seconds, through the single source of truth, single data platform and automated reporting.
  • Real-time information on software usage – the central license management portal facilitated the software scaling to SCG’s evolving needs, either by allocating credits across teams and sites or adding new credits to the existing AVEVA Flex contract.

At AVEVA subscription is seen as a shared commitment in innovation with customers. With the industry continuing its progression towards Industry 5.0 technologies and AVEVA Flex already gaining traction with a number of its key customers, AVEVA is now successfully advancing with solid investments in Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics and Cloud technologies while working closely with customers to help redefine what the industrial landscape may look like in the future.

Read about AVEVA and Schneider Electric's partnership in subscription software for the Australia and New Zealand region here.

Image credit: Schneider Electric

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