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Schneider Electric plans U.S. expansion, announces new micro data centers

News Analysis
Dec 02, 20203 mins
Data Center

Ruggedized enclosures are meant for a factory floor and other harsh indoor environments.

Industry 4.0 / Industrial IoT / Smart Factory / automation
Credit: Jiraroj Praditcharoenkul / Getty Images

Schneider Electric is better known in its native Europe than in the U.S., but it’s looking to change that with a $40 million project to upgrade its U.S. manufacturing resources. The company, which specializes in energy management and automation technologies for data centers, shared its plans for U.S. expansion at its Innovation Summit North America 2020, held virtually this year.

Schneider also unveiled a new set of ruggedized data-center enclosures targeting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Designed for indoor industrial environments, the EcoStruxure Micro Data Center R-Series offers a fast and simple way to deploy and manage edge computing infrastructure in a place like a factory floor.

Schneider’s EcoStruxure Micro Data Center solutions are configurable, pre-packaged, enclosed rack systems that include power, cooling, security, and management capabilities. Schneider claims they can save up to 40% in field engineering costs by using existing infrastructure, get systems to market 20% faster, and reduce maintenance costs by 7% versus a traditional data center build.

The R-Series is equipped with security features and built to withstand harsh indoor environments and applications with high levels of dust, moisture, and wide temperature variations. They can be managed remotely by Schneider’s EcoStruxure IT software for scenarios where there is little or no on-site IT staff.

“To ensure reliability of IT networks on the factory floor, we are introducing the new IP and NEMA rated R-Series EcoStruxure Micro Data Center. These micro data centers provide a solution that’s simple-to-deploy and simple-to-manage for IT and industrial channels and for end users like manufacturers and distributors,” said Jean-Baptiste Plagne, vice president of offer management, rack & edge systems, and energy management at Schneider Electric, in a statement.

Pumping up remote troubleshooting

Further emphasizing its edge initiative, Schneider launched Dispatch Services, a new solution that addresses the challenges of managing distributed IT across sites. Designed for single-phase systems for edge environments that have less power than larger facilities, Dispatch Services provides advanced remote troubleshooting and on-site support for customers and partners that are using Schneider’s EcoStruxure IT Expert software. EcoStruxure IT Expert is cloud-based software that enables customers to centrally monitor and manage physical IT infrastructure, such as UPS, PDUs, and cooling units.

With Dispatch Services, customers and partners can monitor their remote environments using EcoStruxure IT Expert, and outsource to Schneider Electric the advanced remote troubleshooting and on-site services, with parts and labor included, for greater flexibility to fit their needs. The service comes with predictive analytics built for edge and data center environments to pinpoint when and how service is required to expedite and enhance the maintenance process.

Regarding the $40 million project to upgrade its U.S. presence, Schneider says the funds will go towards modernizing its manufacturing plants in Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Texas. Schneider plans to invest in new production lines as well as further develop its local workforce. It’s not a lot – the company has hired and pledged to hire 130 new employees through early 2021. But it is something, and Schneider Electric employees will receive more digital training opportunities and tools that will enable them to adopt new skill sets and work more efficiently in a modern setting, the company says.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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