Growing Globally, Yokogawa Takes Aim at U.S. Gas Industry

10th North American User Group Conference Focuses on Integrated Solutions for a Sustainable Future

By Walt Boyes

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Yokogawa Users Group 2012

Satoru Kurosu's message was clear: Yokogawa is not just an instrumentation and control company, but a full-service automation partner on a global scale. Kurosu, senior vice president of Yokogawa's Industrial Automation Marketing Headquarters and a member of Yokogawa's board of directors, gave the keynote address today to the company's North America user group conference being held this week in New Orleans.

Kurosu first expressed thanks to the gathering of process automation professionals for the U.S. outpouring of aid and support after the 2011 earthquake and during the ongoing recovery. Kurosu likened that response to bottom half of the Yokogawa "kite" symbol: "The squared off edges on the top half of the kite refer to Yokogawa's cutting edge technology," he said, "while the curves of the bottom half of the kite refer to the warm-hearted nature of Yokogawa's people."

Yokogawa's mission is to contribute to society by producing industrial automation solutions that improve peoples' lives, Kurosu said. In two years, Yokogawa will be celebrating 100 years since its founding in 1915. The company soon returned to growth after global recession of 2008, and this past fiscal year marked record revenues of ¥334.7 billion (US $4.2 billion), Kurosu indicated. 60% of the company's business is from outside Japan, he noted, and the company has 19,000 employees worldwide.

Yokogawa continues to gather momentum in the global distributed control systems (DCS) market, Kurosu said. "We were about 12.9% of global share in 2011, but when you look at the chemical industry, we are number one, with 24.5%." And let's not forget field transmitters. "We are second in the world in sales of pressure transmitters, with 27.3% market share," Kurosu said.

The Scale to Tackle Global Projects

But what is really important, Kurosu continued, is Yokogawa's ability to serve its customers on a global scale. "We have 90 affiliates in 55 countries worldwide," Kurosu said, "and we can be truly responsive to our customers' needs."

Kurosu reminded the audience of Yokogawa's VigilantPlant concept, which he developed after being struck by Peter Drucker's famous quote about a well-managed plant being "a quiet and boring place."

People aren't always attentive, and most plants are still noisy and busy, Kurosu said, "We need to do something more!" There are safety regulations, security issues, alarms, environmental regulations—the systems are complicated and larger than ever before. What Yokogawa offers, Kurosu said, is a reliable platform upon which VigilantPlant Services can be leveraged to better utilize assets and process and operations information. Yokogawa is enhancing the platform to provide more value: more applications, more scalability and more accuracy. These value-added services provide additional safety and efficiency, leading to increased human reliability.

End users need to maintain the plant for 20 to 30 years, Kurosu reminded his audience, and in every segment of the plant lifecycle, Yokogawa is capable of assuming single- point responsibility. Starting with design and construction, Yokogawa serves as main automation contractor (MAC) for many global projects, using its highly regarded Global Engineering Standard (GES) project methodology.

In operations, Yokogawa can provide alarm management, advanced process control and procedure management—along with quality improvement based on data analysis, workflow standardization and even energy management. On an ongoing basis, Yokogawa can provide condition-based maintenance—either on-site or remotely—as well as lifecycle support and migration services.

Yokogawa has executed some 24,000 projects all over the globe, Kurosu said, singling out current work at Rabigh II in Saudia Arabia, the world's largest petrochemical complex; an integrated gas combined cycle (IGCC) power plant for Korea's Western Power Company; and the enormous Icthys LNG development off the shore of Western Australia. This project, Kurosu said, is being done by seven engineering companies and has hundreds of thousands of I/O. Yokogawa is the MAC, providing DCS, safety instrumented systems (SIS), real-time database and historian, the alarm management, advanced process controls and other services.

Procedural Automation Delivering Value

Yokogawa is also providing value added operations consulting, Kurosu added. Using standards-based functions and products, "We can achieve both plant safety and energy saving at a high level and maximize human performance using best practices and ergonomics. That's why Yokogawa has taken the lead in standards such as ISA 101, ISA 106, ISA 18.2 and in advanced process control."

Kurosu added, "Yokogawa realized that automating procedures would yield great benefit, and we pioneered modular procedural automation (MPA). In refining, MPA has reducing crude switchover time by 69%; in petrochemicals, MPA has reduced operator manual manipulations by 90%, and it provides safer startups and shutdowns in polymer processing,"

In all, Kurosu exclaimed, Yokogawa is producing "smart ideas for a sustainable future!"

He also described two pilot projects Yokogawa is working on: one for ocean thermal energy conversion and one for a sustainable ocean biomass platform, both using Yokogawa sensors and controls.

"Our mindset is making things work," Kurosu concluded. "Being alert to protect customer interests is our mindset. Going the extra mile to do things right is our behavior, and it is our commitment to building the future to last."

U.S. Now Key Emerging Market

Chet Mroz, president and CEO of Yokogawa Corp. of America, followed Kurosu, focusing his comments on the company's efforts and achievements in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"Now that we have plentiful supplies of natural gas through new drilling technologies, the U.S. is now a key emerging market in Yokogawa's view," Mroz said. This will create "many global business opportunities building on our strengths in Asia and other parts of the world. We have been growing at double-digit rates for the first half of our fiscal year; we're recruiting and adding new engineers. We have a growing backlog that requires those resources."

To grow in the North American market, Mroz said, "We are building on our global leadership position across the gas value chain. Our future in North America looks very bright, and we're preparing for significant growth opportunities."

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