Eurotherm by Schneider Electric is a leading provider of temperature control, electric heat power control, and data acquisition solutions. Chris Mooney, Senior Sales Manager of Solutions, recently sat with Shane Filer, General Manager at Neal Systems, to discuss the ways that he has seen the traditional solutions that Eurotherm has offered now shifting artificial intelligence software.
Shane: Chris, Eurotherm is known for its data recorders, temperature controllers, and electric heat power controllers – but you spend most of your time talking about software nowadays. Why is that?
Chris: Companies are definitely shifting more and more into needing data that helps them make smart decisions, whether to compete on a broader scale, boost their quality level, or improve their efficiency. As a result, we’ve seen a massive shift within Eurotherm from selling hardware (controllers, recorders) that happen to provide data back to a software package, to selling software that happens to pull data from various hardware solutions.
Shane: Within the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) world, that’s often called the “Applications Layer” – rather than the “Edge Control” layer that Eurotherm traditionally has existed in. What sort of applications and artificial intelligence solutions are you seeing the most need for in your traditional industries?
Chris: There are two that really stand-out. The first is Energy Management. We often are selling to companies doing some sort of heating application — plastic extrusion, or perhaps heat treating with furnaces, or boiler control, or even manufacturing of semiconductor chips. Those applications often require a lot of Water, Air, Gas, Electric, or Steam – which are often referred to by the acronym WAGES. However, many of our customers have never actually explored or recognized that by monitoring those things and optimizing them, you can actually boost production efficiency quite a bit in most cases. For instance, Schneider Electric’s Power Monitor Expert (PME) might take into account the electricity power factor as well as the actual electrical usage to provide information that allows automated decision- making to be made that just hadn’t been considered before – artificial intelligence.
Shane: What other sorts of artificial intelligence solutions are your traditional customers now able to do with some of the solutions your team is providing?
Chris: Many of our traditional customers have optimized individual production solutions, but haven’t necessarily looked at a more holistic view of the plant, its people, and the processes. We’ve been providing solutions using Schneider’s Insight Performance package, which is a derivative of the AVEVA Wonderware solutions, to help companies gather and visualize their OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and KPI (Key Performance Indicator) data. What sort of decisions might a plastic extrusion company be able to make if they suddenly had a way to measure plant uptime vs. downtime, unplanned downtime, or even what the top 5 reasons are why their lines go down over the course of a year? What if a heat treat company could tell per furnace what sort of availability, performance and quality was consistently produced – they could make better decisions, or even automate some decisions. By helping our customers recognize what decisions could be automated by measuring different things, and how those measurements might boost things like quality, efficiency, or up-time, and then finally how those things could be automated with artificial intelligence, Eurotherm suddenly becomes much more of a business partner than just a supplier of hardware.
Shane: Thanks so much for your time, Chris – can’t wait to see what else Eurotherm has coming up!
For more information on how Eurotherm’s solutions can benefit your plant and processes, contact us here!