Dave Emerson Welcomed into Process Automation Hall of Fame

Quintessential Engineer and Process Automation Innovator Honored for His Contributions to Industry

By Keith Larson

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Amid the technical presentations and networking events this week at Yokogawa's 2014 Users Conference and Exhibition in Houston, the process automation community also paid tribute to one of their own: Dave Emerson, who earlier this year was inducted into Control's Process Automation Hall of Fame. Emerson (left in photo) currently serves as director of Yokogawa's U.S. Development Center and was congratulated for his contributions to industry by Paul Studebaker, editor in chief of Control.

"On behalf of Control magazine and our Process Automation Hall of Fame, thank you for letting us take this opportunity to welcome one of our 2014 inductees, Dave Emerson," Studebaker said, addressing the Yokogawa User Group attendees. "The Control Process Automation Hall of Fame was started in 2001 and now includes 45 of the most famous, well-known names in the highly specialized field of process control. These already include two well-known Yokogawa people, Dr. Maurice Wilkins, inducted in 2011, and Dr. Yukata Wakasa, inducted in 2010.

"Becoming a Hall of Fame member is simple," Studebaker explained. "Anyone can nominate a candidate by sending us a name. Once a year, we present the list of nominees to the members, who select their first, second and third choices. After a little math, we have our inductees, typically two or three, who receive decisive support from the members. Then the fun begins as we research their accomplishments."

Dave Emerson graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BS in electrical engineering in 1978.

He started his career with Taylor Instruments that same year. After four years with Taylor, he joined EMC Controls, a young start-up company that went through a series of owners and at various times was known as Rexnord, Texas Instruments and GSE Systems. Over the next 15 years, he gained experience with management, control technology and large and international projects.

In 1997, he moved from GSE Systems to Yokogawa’s U.S. Development Center, which was just being started by Kimi Takahashi, as a systems architect. Dave helped develop Exaquantum/Batch, a new batch historian that worked with Yokogawa’s Exaquantum historian and its DCS batch system, CS 3000.

Exaquantum/Batch was based on ISA-88 and the then-new ISA-95 standard, offering one of the first web-based user interfaces. Dave became increasingly involved in standards committees and industry groups, and in 2009, he became director of Yokogawa’s U.S. Development Center.

Contributor to Key Industry Standards

Dave is, above all, the quintessential engineer, a quiet and avid technologist, who made his way by carefully designing and implementing innovative applications of electronic controls. But the reasons his now-fellow Hall of Fame members gave for supporting his nomination focus on his leadership in advancing standards that have become critical to process automation, batch control and the interoperation of business and automation systems.

Lynn Craig (inducted in 2003) summed it up well, noting that "Dave is so quiet that his (huge) contributions to the manufacturing control field are too often overlooked. He may be a giant in the field, but he is too often invisible."

Over the past 25 years, Emerson has had significant roles in defining and advancing several critical control and operational technologies, including:

  • A major role in the development of the pioneering EMC (later NovaTech) batch control product;
  • Key contributions to the ISA88 batch control standard;
  • A crucial role in the development of the ISA95 standard for the integration of enterprise and control systems, including several years as vice-chairman of the S-95 committee;
  • A central and primary role in developing a technical report on integrating ISA88 and ISA95.

Emerson also created and led the World Batch Forum XML Working Group that developed the B2MML and BatchML schemas now supported by MESA. He currently leads the MESA XML Committee that maintains the schemas. For this work, he received a Yokogawa Chairman’s Technical Achievement award. He has been a vital contributor in many facets of the World Batch Forum organization, which led the organization to award him its prestigious Thomas G. Fisher award in recognition of outstanding leadership in the field of operation and control of manufacturing processes.

At the OPC Foundation, Emerson led the OPC Batch committee in creating the OPC Batch specification, served on the OPC UA committee and currently serves on the Technical Advisory committee. At MIMOSA, he is one of the principals in the Open O&M group. He was also instrumental in developing and proposing the new ISA106 standard for Procedure Automation in Continuous Process Operations, of which he is now the editor.

"In summary, Dave has worked diligently and tirelessly to advance real-time automation and information management in these critical areas and has demonstrated both leadership and success in improving technical solutions, promulgating standards and encouraging industry to move in a very positive direction," Studebaker said. "We are proud and honored to welcome Dave Emerson to Control’s Process Automation Hall of Fame."