Design Engineering

ARC report says IEC 61499 adoption could save $30B a year

Technology advisory firm says Schneider’s EcoStruxure IDE, IEC 61499 represent key steps toward true control code portability.

November 14, 2020   by DE Staff

According to a report by ARC Advisory Group (Road to Universal Automation), Schneider Electric’s recently released EcoStruxure Automation Expert, an integrated development environment (IDE) that integrates the IEC 61499 standard, is “a harbinger of a coming era where automation software reaches new levels of portability and hardware independence.”

An extension of the IEC 61131-3 standard, 61499 defines a high-level system design language for distributed information and control systems and enables component-based software design and application portability.

The report points out that although automation became programmable with the invention of the PLC in the 1960s, the software was closely tied to specific hardware model and vendor. As a result, code couldn’t be counted as an industrial asset, since the software needed to be unproductively re-written to port it to different controllers.

In contrast, EcoStruxure Automation Expert, the report says, is “designed to liberate these engineering efforts, allow end users to more easily manage complexity, and open the world of automation to the endless possibilities envisioned by Industry 4.0.”

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In addition, the report argues that, like the IT world’s embrace of open source software (e.g. Linux), the OT world also needs to move away from proprietary software. For example, it says a standardized automation system layer, enabled by the 61499 standard and IDE software like EcoStruxure Automation Expert, holds the potential to eliminate vendor lock-in and save end users across industry approximately $20-30 billion each year in engineering time servicing the installed base.
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