Emerging ¨Internet of Things¨ (IoT) technology plays a central role in building a vital, environmentally friendly energy infrastructure for the 21st century, a future in which local renewable microgrids are likely to figure prominently. France’s Schneider Electric, in turn, intends to earn a place as a leading developer and vendor of energy IoT devices, equipment and solutions.
On Nov. 29 management introduced the next generation of Schneider’s EcoStruxure energy IoT architecture and platform. Designed primarily for use in buildings, data centers, industrial facilities and power grids, the new version is open, scalable and provides interoperability across IoT devices, equipment and networks, Schneider highlights, a key point given the lack of market standardization and rapid technological evolution.
Schneider Electric’s New Energy IoT Platform
With three layers, Ecostruxure’s open IP network technology stack is consistent with Schneider’s efforts to build bridges that enable the new energy IoT architecture and platform to connect to and work in concert with offerings from other vendors. As Schneider explains:
- The first layer builds on Schneider Electric’s core competency in developing connected products with embedded intelligence, such as sensors, medium and low voltage breakers, drives and actuators.
- The Edge Control layer gives organizations the critical capability to manage their operations on-premise as well as from the cloud depending on their needs. This includes connected control platforms with remote access, advanced automation and operator override capabilities. Local control and firewall protection is included to maximize the benefits especially for mission-critical applications.
- Schneider Electric’s focused investment in R&D and product development in the critical areas of software, analytics and services, coupled with the integration of recent acquisitions such as Invensys, Telvent and Summit Energy forms the third layer of the stack – a portfolio of apps, analytics and services. EcoStruxure enables the most extensive breadth of vendor-agnostic apps, analytics and services on open IP protocols in order to work with any hardware, system, or control.
“EcoStruxure combines our history in pioneering in energy management, automation and deep domain expertise with data-driven metrics and analytics to help us maximize the value of the Internet of Things for our customers,” Schneider Electric CTO Dr. Prith Banerjee was quoted in a press release.
“EcoStruxure gives our customers the platform, architecture and roadmap to quickly and easily implement IoT in an enterprise, extending the benefits of IoT beyond the device layer to create a more intelligent, efficient and secure operation.”
Energy IoT Partnerships and Alliances
Working with Intel and Microsoft, Schnedier Electric took advantage of the latest, commercially proven IoT innovations across a range of associated technologies – mobility, sensing, cloud platforms, analytics and cybersecurity – in developing the latest iteration of EcoStruxure, according to the company.
Aiming to spur EcoStruxure adoption and use, Schneider also launched a new industry community centered on further developing its energy IoT technology. Microsoft and Intel technology feature prominently in this regard. As Schneider explains:
- Microsoft: Schneider Electric leverages the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to deliver its digital services, apps and analytics. Azure is the cloud backbone for EcoStruxure, easing technology development on the platform. “Schneider Electric depends on Microsoft Azure IoT technology to rapidly scale public, private and hybrid cloud solutions,” said Sam George, Director, Microsoft Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp. “We’re committed to working together to deliver new digital services that leverage their vast domain expertise in targeted end markets.” One such digital service, Conext 2 Advisor, is a secure monitoring and control solution for managing and optimizing the performance of solar power plants, and is delivered as an Azure cloud-based service, accessible on computers or mobile devices.
- Intel: Schneider Electric leverages Intel’s smart Field Programmable Gateway Arrays (FPGA) devices to power its sensors and devices, networks and the cloud. Intel’s FPGAs enhance the performance, power and flexibility of the EcoStruxure architecture to enable smarter operations.
Schneider is also keen to establish associated partnerships with emerging market specialists and leaders aiming to develop and commercialize new energy IoT business models, products and services, such as those recently established with Zuora and Panasonic, the company pointed out.