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A long-time Schneider Electric customer in Sweden, an organization operating hospitals and treatment facilities nationwide, wanted to reduce energy consumption. So, it embarked on its journey to upgrade from its Schneider Electric legacy product, TAC Vista, to EcoStruxure™ Building Operation (EBO). With EBO, the organization could integrate data from building systems and sub-systems, providing actionable insights to optimize building performance and efficiency.

But the transition effort came to a halt after Robin Sjodin, a Service Engineer at Schneider Electric in Sweden supporting the customer’s transition effort, faced a hardware challenge.

“The customer decided to upgrade existing control systems using the equipment they already had, and the system already had all their data,” said Sjodin, explaining that the customer’s system relies on Piigab converters, hardware components that facilitate M-Bus meter readings.

Unfortunately, their existing system lacked support for the native OPC (open platform communications) client in EBO,” he said.

The Piigab converters were essential for a successful upgrade, but replacing this hardware was not an ideal scenario. It would have been prohibitively expensive and would have been an arduous and complex task, according to Sjodin.

It would have required identifying and replacing numerous Piigab controller converters across the organization,” he said, explaining that with the engineering work, it would have cost an estimated $52,000 US.

In addition to the high cost, replacing the converters would have required extensive risk assessment and system testing.

The sheer time and financial investment associated with hardware replacement made it an unfavorable option,” Sjodin emphasized, nothing that even if changing all the hardware was financially feasible, it would take a very long time.

He decided there must be another way to solve the customer’s problem. He asked his colleagues within Schneider Electric for an alternative solution – one that would simplify the transition and make it more efficient.

That’s when he learned about Control See’s suite of products including EBO OPC Client for Building Operations.

Control See offers various solutions for IT systems and industrial automation on Schneider Electric Exchange, a partner ecosystem for independent IoT innovators advancing EcoStruxure-powered solutions for efficiency and sustainability through cybersecure data access/integration and use of developer resources for joint solutions.

Thanks to a software solution from Control See, a Schneider Electric Technology Partner, Sjodin and his team at Schneider Electric were able to resolve the customer’s issues while saving time and costs.

Finding the right fit
Looking at the customer’s situation, Sjodin understood that migrating data from the old system to the new one was a challenge that was more complex than it had to be. So, instead of replacing key hardware and controls in the system, Sjodin decided on pursuing a software approach.

Among Control See’s solutions, Sjodin found EBO OPC Client for Building Operations particularly promising. This software leverages Schneider Electric’s SmartConnector system, enabling EBO to receive data from any third-party software with OPC server functionality.

Sjodin explored the possibility of implementing EBO OPC Client for Building Operations. After reviewing how the solution worked, he thought it would be the right fit for the customer’s needs. Then, he contacted Michael Meirovitz, VP of Sales at Control See.

Meirovitz stepped in right away to understand the challenge. Soon after, it was clear to Sjodin that in addition to having discovered a software solution for his customer’s issue, he found a dedicated partner that would work with him every step of the way.

The problem was not just money,” Meirovitz said. “When you replace these converters with new ones, you have to assess the risks and test the system again and again, making sure everything is okay.

Sjodin collaborated with Meirovitz to install Control See’s EBO-OPC Client software on the customer’s system.

Meirovitz explains in a nutshell what the solution is.

It is a smart connector extension that can communicate with 3rd party OPC servers, get the data, and then expose it with EBO,” he says. “It allows the customer to keep its current investment in its Piigab converters and get the data from TAC Vista into EBO.

With Sjodin leading the effort, the customer kept its Piigab controllers and completed the project in seven days. In terms of cost, the customer saved nearly $40,000 US.

Simplifying a complex problem
This effort was Sjodin’s first time attempting a task he knew little about.

But I was determined to succeed,” he says. “Armed with information about the smart connection framework and guidance from Meirovitz, I embarked on the installation process.

Michael’s unwavering support proved invaluable,” said Sjodin. “Without him, I would have struggled alone.

As with any project, challenges can arise. For example, with this project, Sjodin encountered a security rights certificate issue and compatibility problems with the outdated OPC server.

Working closely with Meirovitz, Sjodin find a workaround to address these challenges.

The application itself was not at fault, and we successfully implemented it once we understood the site-specific implementation requirements,” Meirovitz said. “Michael and his team were always there to provide technical guidance, answer questions, and ensure a smooth process,” explained Sjodin. “The customer greatly benefited from the solution, particularly in terms of time and hardware savings.

From the start, the prospect of changing hardware would have been an arduous and complex task. Instead, with Control See’s lightweight and scalable application, data could be easily accessed, named, and transmitted as needed. The solution empowered the customer to utilize data for energy analysis and other applications, improving efficiency and enabling visualization.

Sjodin thinks Control See’s solution can have various applications and use cases and potentially interest customers globally looking to simplify a complex issue.

While the Piigab controllers are predominantly used in Sweden, the solution’s versatility extends beyond a single product or region,” he said.

The value of a dedicated partner
Through the partnership between Schneider Electric and Control See, the organization overcame complex hardware challenges, ensuring a seamless transition to EBO while maximizing its existing infrastructure.

The success of this project demonstrated the power of innovative software solutions in solving efficiency and sustainability challenges, providing a cost-effective and efficient pathway to achieving energy consumption reduction goals.

According to Sjodin, the customer’s feedback has been positive thus far.

Meirovitz, an active user on Schneider Electric Exchange, is happy that Control See’s product was helpful to the customer and is excited about what lies ahead. At Schneider Electric Exchange, our community’s key value is empowering each other.