Following the purchase of Invensys Eurotherm by Schneider Electric earlier this year, senior management representatives discuss the change of ownership and benefits for the glass manufacturing industry.
Schneider Electric is a global specialist in energy management and efficiency technologies, with an integrated product and solutions portfolio, a balanced global footprint and a strong presence in emerging economies. According to Klaus Lachmann, the group's Mining, Minerals and Metals Solutions Marketing Director, the acquisition of Invensys in January 2014 enhanced Schneider Electric's position as a solutions integrator, especially regarding automation in the process and power generation industries, providing good access to markets in the automation and software sectors.
"We now have the broadest system portfolio in the industry to serve the needs of customers, from small-to-large DCS in discrete, hybrid or continuous processes, plus we are a leading software and operational efficiency provider" Mr Lachmann reports. "The large installed base and established brands, including Foxboro and Triconex significantly strengthen access to energy-intensive industries which, combined with Eurotherm's expertise in glass industry, provides Schneider Electric with a complete solutions offering for these industries and a wider service base for customers."
Since Eurotherm was founded in 1965, the business has grown globally as a highly specialised supplier, domain expert and trusted advisor to regulated and energy-intensive industries, holding a market leadership position in temperature control and recording in its core markets.
"Our experience, gained over nearly 50 years, combined with our continued aggressive investment in R&D and innovation are key factors that will continue to benefit Schneider Electric and our glass industry customers" comments Chris Ashworth, VP and Managing Director at Eurotherm.
Process control solutions
With 35 years of domain expertise in the glass industry and a global team, Eurotherm is a leading expert in the development of process control solutions for primary glass manufacturers throughout the world. "Eurotherm is recognised by the glass industry as a 'trusted advisor' and with the acquisition by Schneider Electric and our combined synergies, we will work together to ensure that Schneider Electric is recognised as the same" says Mr Ashworth.
Eurotherm has a comprehensive product portfolio, from specialised sensor technology to process and power control and real-time information. Now part of the Specialised Devices and Controls line of businesses with the industry segment at Schneider Electric, Eurotherm maintains the agility and flexibility to respond quickly to global customer demand. "With our combined offerings, we will ensure continued high customer satisfaction in the glass industry" Chris Ashworth adds.
Among the main benefits of being part of Schneider Electric is the organisation's global reach, its domain expertise and portfolio synergies, which are industries of Eurotherm focus. Schneider Electric's financial strength, its commitment to innovation and global presence are further important assets. "Additionally, their solid global team has a deep knowledge of process control, transformer and drive technology" says Chris Ashworth, "allowing us to extend our R&D capabilities through combined expertise."
Currently, for example Eurotherm and key team members with Schneider Electric are discussing high frequency drive technology for glass melting and boosting systems to enhance the Eurotherm offering. "Today, Eurotherm is delivering power supply and control systems for boosting, as well as leveraging our key glass system integrators for the entire solution delivery."
Eurotherm's portfolio has proved its strength and many satisfied end users, system integrators and OEMs use the company's custom-made high temperature sensors, thermocouples, recorders and recorder/controllers. The diversity of high accuracy temperature controllers, PAC process controllers and SCR power controllers (EPower) represent major Eurotherm products sold to the glass industry. The launch of the EPack compact SCR power controller will further improve the position in controlling electrical heating in forehearths, medium sized bushings and drain control.
Best in class
Similarly, Schneider Electric maintains leading positions in its businesses. In addition to a key role in discrete and process automation, it claims market leadership in low voltage and building automation; grid automation and medium voltage; and critical power and cooling, with numerous best-in-class products and solutions. In the glass sector the company focuses on four solution areas:
Safety and security: Workers' safety is a major concern for all stakeholders and Schneider Electric helps to enable a zero accident workplace with dedicated solutions and services. This includes, for example, improving the safety of machines and processes through a dedicated range of safety modules and controllers and electrical distribution safety through arc flash assessments and concepts that reduce arc flash energy across the entire low voltage switchgear, rather than simply reducing energy levels for downstream equipment as largely seen in the past. In addition, workplace security is addressed, from access control and video surveillance, to emergency lighting.
Sustainability: The glass sector is an energy intensive industry and sustainable glass manufacturing alongside the saving of natural resources is a key goal of all companies. Schneider Electric helps customers to reduce their environmental footprint because it works on the demand and supply side. Dedicated energy and sustainability consultants develop and deploy strategic roadmaps and action plans to reduce energy consumption and related emissions. A product and solution portfolio, from monitoring of energy consumption to energy analytics software and environmental footprint reporting, helps to understand and manage energy savings over time.
Operational efficiency and people effectiveness: Industrial automation is the major driver to increase operational efficiency. According to Klaus Lachmann, leveraging the complementary strengths of the offers provided by both companies offers an important oppotunity for the glass sector to rationalise the number of suppliers and to rely on a single system architecture for the complete manufacturing process. "We are still at an early stage in the joint product and solution roadmap is under development; however we confirm that our intention is to leverage the existing technology and capabilities already delivered by these offers, to accelerate the development of Schneider Electric's industrial automation busines."
But an efficient manufacturing process also needs an efficient power distribution system that guarantees a maximum of uptime and high level of availability of electrical power. Today, many customers ask for the integration of renewable energy sources, to optimise load sharing and to become a part of the smart grid. Starting at the utility incomer, Schneider Electric provides complete medium voltage power distribution systems and solutions that can be linked to building and industrial automation, including busbar trunking systems, intelligent motor control centres, power factor correction and industrial UPS systems. For example, together with Eurotherm's strength in the control of electric bushings, roof heating and furnace boosting systems, it will be much more straightforward than before to improve efficiency in the fibre, float and container glass industries and to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective power.
Value creation: Similar to other industries, the glass sector is fairly asset-intensive and optimising the use of assets can create significant value. With Avantis Enterprise Asset Management, Schneider Electric provides an integrated solution for managing, scheduling and accounting for the maintenance of machinery and equipment. Features like decision making support, preventive maintenance, reliability analysis built on a detailed history of equipment information and mobile solutions for inventory and work management allow the company to satisfy the sophisticated maintenance and material management requirements of today's glass producers and to better drive profitability from all their assets.
Klaus Lachmann is confident that the realigned business provides some important benefits to Eurotherm's existing and potential customers in the glass industry, in particular a more complete product and solution scope to address the glass manufacturing chain, from raw materials preparation and furnace to packaging and shipping, as well as integrated solutions from production floor to enterprise level, with a special focus on energy management and sustainability.
With a presence in 190 countries, Schneider Electric serves its glass customers throughout the world and meets their needs with products adapted to local and international standards and services throughout the manufacturing life cycle from design to modernisation, including engineering, project management planning, implementation and after sales services.
Furthermore, Schneider Electric has a comprehensive approach on selected segments. "The glass industry is part of our Mining, Minerals and Metals focus and is supported by a dedicated and worldwide organisation including sales, key account management, centres of expertise and marketing and R&D resources."
The value of continuity
The value of the Eurotherm brand was recognised by Schneider Electric during the acquisition as having a strong value in the core markets served. As such, the Eurotherm brand has been maintained and is now called 'Eurotherm by Schneider Electric'.
Similarly, it is acknowledged that the continuity of key team members is vital for the ongoing success and sustained double digit growth realised by Eurotherm in the glass market. "As a combined Schneider/Eurotherm offering and team, our glass customers expect not only a comprehensive product and solution portfolio but also a worldwide footprint" says Kurt Lachmann. "Business domain expertise, glass application and automation knowledge are of similar if not greater importance because they help to understand our customers' problems and to find the best technical and commercial solutions. René Meuleman (Global Glass Business Manager) and our Eurotherm team have very strong expertise in glass process control and their knowledge and knowhow is fundamental to the continued growth of our business."
In the long-term, the glass sector expects solutions that integrate different domains, increase efficiency simply operations to compensate for a lack of skilled workforces and contribute to more sustainable manufacturing. Schneider Electric has started successfully to converge power and automation, the company's next step being better integration of IT and OT to enable higher operational efficiency, increased asset utilisation and optimisation along the supply chain. "Our aim is to continue to improve vertical industry applications, machines and processes with a best-in-class product strategy and new solutions for power, control, supervision and process optimisation" Klaus Lachmann confirms. "Schneider Electric will be the 'trusted advisor' and strategic partner of the glass sector".
At glasstec 2014, the company will present its renewed approach and extended product and solution portfolio, based on the combination of Eurotherm and Schneider Electric. "Visitors to stand number 15D14 will be able to speak, most probably their native language to one of our international glass experts" adds René Meuleman. "We look forward to discussing possible ways that Schneider Electric and Eurotherm could contribute to making businesses more sustainable efficient and profitable."
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Article published in Glass Worldwide, September, 2014.