More than 1,200 process automation professionals from 44 countries gathered April 1, 2014, in Stuttgart, Germany, as Roel Van Doren, president of Emerson Process Management in Europe, welcomed users to the company's second Global Users Exchange to be held on European soil. (The first was in Dusseldorf in 2012.)
"The European economy is coming out of crisis; global demand for energy continues to climb; and safer, more reliable, more efficient operations are still a priority," Van Doren said as he set the tone for three full days of conversation and networking to follow, including user presentations, technology roadmaps, and industry forums—even a visit to the nearby Porsche museum.
Van Doren reiterated Emerson's commitment to connect with its customers, innovate on technology, support products over their entire lifecycle and execute projects perfectly. He admitted that Emerson is known for great people and great products, but that the company could be easier to do business with. He compared the Emerson organization's efforts to improve its customers' operations to that of a F1 car's pit crew to improve its driver's race performance: "We know that to make your operations better, we have to make ours better as well," Van Doren said
During the event's press conference, Emerson executives highlighted two key company offerings designed to help process manufacturers address their most pressing operational imperatives of improved efficiency, safety and reliability—despite projected shortfalls of experienced workers. These include the promulgation of "pervasive" sensor networks designed to wirelessly gather business-critical intelligence, and integrated operations (iOps) centers that leverage communication and collaboration technologies to streamline informed business decision-making.
In support of the pervasive sensing value proposition, two Emerson customers offered proof statements on the ability of wireless networks to solve key business problems. David Hambling, I&E technical engineer for SABIC Petrochemicals, Teeside, U.K., reported how his company was using wireless vibration monitoring instrumentation to significantly boost equipment reliability. Tom Kenis, I&E technical subject matter expert for BP, shared the successful application of wireless sensors to detect hydrocarbon leaks and guard against emissions at the company's Geel, Belguim, facility.
“Our customers are like anyone else—they want actionable information that can make their lives safer, more predictable, and save them cost, risk and time,” explained Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer, Emerson Process Management. “This goes beyond the control room and optimizing process performance. They want clarity and certainty of conditions for business-critical decision-making across all aspects of their operations."
Pervasive sensing may provide the foundation for operational improvement, but "data alone isn't enough," added Jim Nyquist, group vice president for Emerson’s Process Systems and Solutions business. “Customers have steadily seen operational improvement for years by deploying smart automation technologies that provide them more data—more visibility—into what’s really happening,” Nyquist said. "But the real opportunity is to imagine new organizational workflows, like the formation of cross functional collaboration centers that bring together decentralized expertise to enable better, faster decision-making. That’s iOps.”
To help customers establish and execute their vision of integration operations, Emerson has developed a range of iOps consulting services. First, consultants help customers develop a vision for their operations, based on ever-growing best practices. Following human-centered design methods, Emerson works with customers to define roles and work practices and to also define applications targeted to individual user requirements. Then, consultants leverage Emerson’s deep project management roots to help customers put their vision into action. These recommendations are derived through onsite visits, personnel interviews, assessments, and analysis. This service is performed by senior consultants with the right expertise to explore opportunities and alternatives for taking advantage of new integrated operations capabilities.