Emerson Refocuses on the Human Experience

Downturns and Recessions Are No Match for Courage and Concentration

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For example, Sonnenberg reported that he recently met a young CEO at a Middle Eastern petrochemical company that was planning a major expansion. However, he said that many of his operators had little automation experience, and so he needed products that didn't require much process experience. Likewise, Sonnenberg added that a senior manager at a large German chemical company told him that his plants also were upgrading, but that much of his automation expertise was leaving due to retirements and downsizing. He said their main automation objective was to ‘drive the car, but not build the car.' This means Emerson should be responsible for providing our customers with a nice, smooth and safe ride. The technology under the hood isn't as important as knowing if there is an issue. And, if there is an, issue when will it become a problem, and what can be done about it?"

Sonnenberg explained that the process control and automation field has made many advances over the years, but that it might have paid too much attention to product features and to little attention to the reality of how products actually get designed into plants and how they're used there every day. "The truth is most of the automation technologies developed in the past 30 years weren't developed based on work practices. They were developed based on features," said Sonnenberg. "Don't get me wrong. Process control technologies are incredible advanced. Our industry has come a long way in the past 20 years, and we should all be proud of it. However, the vast majority of our advances have been around technology features without considering how users interact with those technologies and how these products are used."

We're looking not only at how we can enrich our products with more features, but also how we can reconsider technologies based on how you used them, he said. "There is a genuine science behind this. It seems simple, but designing products that have more technology and more features, but are easier to use and eliminate work is actually pretty hard."

By taking the best capabilities of Delta V and making them better, Sonnenberg reported that users will be able to:

  • Have control system hardware that lets them finalize their I/O design once they finalized their process design;
  • Significantly reduce the need for change orders;
  • Eliminate spaghetti wiring;
  • Prevent the need for miles of multi-core cabling;
  • Reduce thousands of hours or labor in landing I/O; 
  • Give users the flexibility to change their minds without getting penalized.

Perhaps the main tool enabling these gains will be Emerson Process Management's Characterization Module (CHARM) electronic marshalling modules, which it's also introducing at the this week's Exchange event. Located at the heart of the firm's new Delta V S-Series, CHARM modules allow users to add I/O as needed.

In addition, the new Delta V also is offering a Device Dashboard that prioritizes and simplifies its display on the few primary tasks and status indicators that plant operator use and need most. Likewise, Emerson also has completely redesigned the interfaces to its field instruments and is launching more than 50 new Delta V and AMS screens that take much of the complexity and hassle out of routine tasks that users deal with each day in their field instruments.

"This overhaul of our new product development process puts features second and usability first. This process reinvents the relationship between technology and people," said Sonnenberg. "We call this human-centered design, and I can promise you this is just the beginning. For Emerson, this will be a way of life. It's already become a part of our DNA.

"In fact, we've created the Emerson Human Centered Design Institute, and its sole job is to guide the thinking and hands of our product development teams to make sure we build product based on improved usability. We've already put more than 60 product development teams through intensive training on this discipline, and it's incredible to see how this thinking, this science is improving the usability of our products. We've already established more than five years of product roadmaps that will be driven by this new process."

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