How can process manufacturers benefit from software-defined automation?

A couple of weeks ago at #HannoverMesse2024, Rebecca Vangenechten presented on SIMATIC PCSneo by Siemens. Just like programmable logic controllers (PLCs) disrupted reliance on the old relay logic mechanisms, software-defined automation has disrupted reliance on critical PLCs – and much more.

The inefficiencies of existing processes to harness automation have become up-front and visible—but the health, reliability, and efficacy of PLCs are crucial linchpins for manufacturing solution providers. Even when manufacturers implement systems to track and manage PLCs, they lack automation and integration with the plant; they don’t truly integrate information and operation technologies (IT/OT).

With PCSneo, Siemens envisions a future in which software-defined automation aligns information and operation technologies. Instead of the traditional manufacturing pyramid, information and operation are streamlined, centering intuitive software alongside PLC and critical operational data management.

PCSneo is one of the control systems that integrate pilot versions of an international standard interface for multiple disparate pieces of equipment to unify the numerous variables within a production line. Users can prevent data loss and empower manufacturers to create a functional digital twin of the entire plant, not just one piece of equipment. The integrated multi-user engineering platform catalyzes flexible workflow efficiency.

What are my initial takeaways?

Undergoing digital transformation for complex and large process manufacturing sites, such as energy or chemicals, is a challenging task. With such an enormous undertaking, corporate manufacturing executives may struggle to find the ROI. Meanwhile, the regional or site manager must continue efficient operations while adopting new solutions, integrating systems, and ensuring cultural adoption.

SIMATIC PCSneo sparks my interest because its extensive capabilities and IT/OT integration architecture are distinct from traditional PLC and digital solutions. It has more architectural aspects (including the modules mentioned in my last post), object-oriented data management details, and adaptable, user-facing functions that make it easy to integrate across various process automation needs. These features ensure quick ROI for the manufacturing executive when adopting software-defined automation and enable site teams to experience the benefits of digital transformation without the headache.

With the launch of PCSneo, Siemens is addressing multiple critical pain points exposed by digital transformation for manufacturers – and they’re centering user experience in the process.

Thank you for this presentation, Rebecca! It was a great experience to learn more about PCSneo and the Siemens Process Automation team.

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