Schneider Electric-AVEVA together bring a much broader portfolio for Indian customers: Stephen Reynolds, Industry Principal – Chemicals, AVEVA

  • May 16, 2023

AVEVA is now fully owned and is part of Schneider Electric. What will be its likely impact on existing and future customers in India? 

We are hoping that it will have a very positive impact. It will help us in keeping the open-ended environment for software development, helping our customers with software development with the tools they have and also with the AVEVA portfolio. We have worked with Schneider Electric, particularly in India as an integration partner and now with this fully owned status, the working relationship will grow only stronger as we have a great team and concepts across the portfolio that allow for better service as well. In addition, AVEVA continues to grow in the chemical segment. So, we hope to see more support there. 

How will AVEVA and Schneider Electric work together in the Indian chemicals market?

The Indian chemicals market continues to be strong. It is highly active and we have a tremendous amount of customer base to talk to. For India, we continue to see good activity, bringing up good discussion on how it connects globally as it doesn’t operate in vacuum. We have seen many disruptions happening in industry during Covid. With Schneider Electric-AVEVA, we will now have a much broader base of support coming into India and being available to the customers.  

AVEVA enables companies to engineer efficiently and optimize operations, driving growth, and sustainability simultaneously. How do you ensure all these solutions will help chemical companies? 

Digital transformation is a direct evolution of operational excellence. We talk about people, process and technology but operational excellence is taking people in a process as far as they can go. Implementing standard work, organizing work spaces, understanding what we can do with what we have. The next step is technology. As we do a lot of improvement to process, typically there is digitalization and more information. As the information builds up, it necessitates the transformation into digital space. 

With the larger broader portfolio, we have connected information across the whole spectrum of the chemical industry. With our OSISoft we focus on real time data, with AVEVA taking data from exceptions. From engineering, simulation, design to operator training and commissioning of a plant. Now its maintenance through operations and sustainability and connecting with integrated digital twins so that information is never lost and always readily available. As we transition into the standard operational excellence into the digital connected work environment, the information is at their fingertips to drive data driving decision making. 

Chemical companies are focusing on driving operational excellence through digital transformation. Steps which will help companies to achieve operational excellence?

It is a journey. The first thing for the players is to understand where do they stand currently, where they want to be and what is necessary for them as a company or chemical plant to succeed. We want to be their trusted partner in this journey. We don’t want to just sell them software but also offer a solution that fulfills the long-term improvements. The steps include understanding the process and people you have so that the operational excellence part is really the foundation of digital transformation. Understanding what processes are important, what information you have today and what information you will need in the future. Of course now with Schneider Electric in play, we have a direct line to the process automation and hardware system.  

Understanding what you have and need is going to drive home the information that you are going to require to drive operational excellence. And then it is privatizing the solution. Very often chemical plants will start with understanding the real time visualization of the process. That's step one. Then very quickly depending on the amount of equipment they have, reliability becomes a concern. So they have to ensure protective analytics around their assets. 

As that activity occurs maybe it is time to look at the asset information and digitize it for better decision making. This continues on through optimization and then energy and yield management. Supply chain costs are as vulnerable they are these days due to situations, even little matters. Some of the next steps are to get hold of such situations and understand the conditions that could lead to failure. Real time data and transitioning into conditional data and prescriptive mode is what new digital technologies enable.  

Chemical companies are looking at reducing energy and waste, improving circularity, and also improving sustainability score. How do you see data analytics, process simulations, and digital twins helping them in this journey?   

Energy optimization has always been the hallmark of the chemical industry because it has been constrained by margins. So energy is one of the main costs that it hopes to manage. I think from a digital standpoint, having the data on fingertips and right information handy allows us identify our energy landscape where we are using the most of what we can take back, integrating with our equipment, understanding the electrical, natural gas, steam, commitments we have, looking around our missions, and monitoring systems. Connecting that with our data systems that we can understand, what process steps lead to the largest carbon footprint. How do we scale those back? I think having that data available is going to be the key.  

If you look at some of our technology, it is going to enable those calculations in real time. Our simulations now can calculate greenhouse emissions, our scheduling and planning tools allow you to simulate different feedstocks, different utility and usage so that you can calculate your carbon footprint, go into your plan and make proper decisions. The basic reliability of the process, continuing what we do everyday, being reliable so that those extra emissions don’t occur. 

Circularity of course is the newest aspect of this net zero campaign and it’s the one that has the most question marks because many of the technologies are going to be new. Recycling for many years has been mechanical as when we see a plastic bottle we turn it into a park bench. With the variety of plastics and variety of additives into the chain, identifying and sorting the plastics that make sense has been difficult. Roughly 9% of the world's plastic actually gets recirculated. So circularity is going to allow us to develop those chemical processes not only to grab the split polymer but convert it back into either monomer or the base raw material so that we can build the new again.

So now we are recycling the carbon molecules and not just the plastic. Some of these technologies are being developed and many of the pilot plants have come online. The digital process and community will enable more efficient design and decrease the run in time. Reverse supply chain, getting the plastic back from the market and reprocessing. There are a lot of JVs happening in this space. Therefore, we will see the data grow and be able to manage the communication beyond the boundaries. AVEVA technologies are ready to support in this direction. 

Every company has got net zero plans. Solutions provided by AVEVA to measure and deliver low emission value chains? 

 From a specific toolkit, of course on real-time data monitoring, AVEVA PI System is one of the best. It monitors the real time application of data so that we are performing to the target. 

Our more successful customers use that real-time data against operating limits so they define where they need to be to perform their targets. They aggregate those missteps, so when they violate a limit, that is an opportunity. They use these opportunities to develop projects and that circles back, bringing in the new control limits. 

AVEVA PI System helps them to consolidate those gains. In addition to that, from an engineering point of view, our simulation and design packages now include greenhouse gas emissions for a number of processes where it is able to identify the problems. It helps assess where you could picture those impacts and design better from the very beginning. And as we model those processes, we bring the data from design into operations moving forward.

We are seeing customers these days using these models for real time decision making. In terms of planning and scheduling, the unified supply chain tools, especially for petrochemical players allow them to plan for carbon footprint so that they can choose their raw materials, energy consumption choices, carbon credits, and calculations could be done for production run and net zero emissions. 

How robust are these models from a net zero perspective and how do you plan to achieve 90% accuracy level?

From a planning and scheduling point of view, those are the allowances that are input by the users, so it is based on their knowledge of their process. From the simulation engine, the first principle models are in place. It’s just an extension of the chemistry at this point. And as our knowledge improves, those models will improve. 

Innovations that AVEVA is integrating in the next version of software? Are you focusing on any specific software this year? 

We have a great team in India and with the addition of a team from Schneider Electric, our portfolio has just broadened. It will further continue to improve. 

Last two years of my involvement in India, we have focused on real-time data, the operations data. Next step will be how we use that data. For AVEVA PI customers, the natural transition has been into their asset base, looking at asset strategy, predictive analytics, understanding what equipment is critical and then prioritizing and putting the next level of analytics on top of them. I think that has been a big push. It is not a new product but will be new for many customers who continue their digital transformation. 

AVEVA's outlook for India during 2023? 

India continues to grow and excel. As the industry continues the journey, the level of information and data will grow. These technologies are not just to buy and put on shelf but they are solutions to use. They will help the industry to get better faster and I think the key to AVEVA’s success is that these tools are useful to you not just today but enablers of growth for tomorrow. And that’s going to be critical for India’s growth story.