Emerson Exchange

Plantweb digital ecosystem takes users to IIoT land

Emerson outlines its approach for realizing the Industrial Internet of Things.

By Jim Montague

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The travel brochure for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sure looks attractive—a paradise of connectivity and communications, delivering big data from all sectors, improved decision-making by users, and enabling new levels of efficiency, optimization, productivity and profit. Sounds great, but few process control users and their legacy applications have had the tools to reach the IIoT’s sunny shores and take advantage of it, until now.

Like an airline opening a new and much-needed route, Emerson Automation Solutions announced Oct. 24 that it’s leveraging decades of digital automation expertise to launch its expanded Plantweb digital ecosystem. Unveiled at a press conference on the first day of Emerson Global Users Exchange 2016 in Austin, Texas, the Plantweb digital ecosystem is a scalable portfolio of standards-based hardware, software, intelligent devices and services for securely implementing IIoT to help users achieve measurable performance improvement.

“We’ve been improving operations performance for many years, and many of today’s efforts such as IIoT are built on older practices and technologies. In fact, process automation is a unique lever for connecting operations to business performance and its data, connectivity, analytics, expertise and mobility. That sounds a lot like IIoT, but we’ve already been doing it for awhile,” said Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer, Emerson Automation Solutions. “In 1997, Emerson revolutionized the automation landscape with Plantweb, the first field-based digital plant architecture. Now, we’re doing it again by harnessing the power of IIoT to give customers the technology foundation for Operational Certainty.”

Zornio added that the Plantweb digital ecosystem can help users participate in Emerson’s recently launched Operational Certainty program, which provides a clear, scalable business case for investing in IIoT by targeting specific business challenges for achieving measurable success with limited effort or cost.

“We’ve heard from customers and industry analysts alike that there’s a paradox creating gridlock for customers today,” added Zornio. “Market volatility is driving a cautious, ‘grind it out’ mentality, yet company operating performance goals demand new, transformational thinking and action. Technology is offering a vast set of new options, yet customers are left wondering how and where to begin this digital transformation. Users know that IIoT can help access all kinds of devices and data, and it sounds great, but then they ask: ‘How can it apply to my processes and deliver real return on investment (ROI) to my business?’ They also don’t want another big IT initiative, and want to start small and get real, focused ROI. This is not a revolution; it’s an evolution.”

Emerson reports that its new expansion makes Plantweb the most comprehensive, integrated IIoT portfolio in the process industries. This will allow Plantweb users to use IIoT to expand digital intelligence to their entire manufacturing enterprise, while also providing an architecture for on-premise applications. Beyond secure process control, safety and asset management systems, the Plantweb digital ecosystem supports enterprise-wide operations with an expanded portfolio consisting of:

• Pervasive Sensing field instruments, including  a new non-intrusive temperature sensor, as well as new sensing technologies for corrosion detection, medium-voltage electrical protection, and hazardous, gas-leak detection and others;

• Secure First Mile family of software, security devices, flexible servers, gateways, data diodes and services. It’s based on a set of architectural approaches and designs that allow users to selectively connect secure data from protected control and operation systems (OT) to operational performance applications in the cloud environment (IT). The portfolio gives experts immediate access to the information they need, whether it’s on premise, in a private company cloud network, or at a third-party service provider;

• Plantweb Insight software includes IT-friendly applications with analytics for monitoring asset health. These applications can run independently of existing business systems and DCSs, and provide a simple, powerful entry point to IIoT. They’re ideal for proving an IIoT strategy and gaining business impact. Plantweb Insight can be deployed as a single asset class, and scale to a wide range of assets, each with low entry cost and simplified setup. Virtual machine-based deployment also makes Plantweb Insight a low-IT-requirement application;

•  Plantweb Advisor software includes a robust suite of integrated, analytical, expert applications for asset health, performance modeling and facility-wide energy optimization. Its main applications—Health Advisor, Performance Advisor and Energy Advisor—are scalable to thousands of assets across multiple facilities for enterprise-wide equipment and energy analytics. These applications can also run at a user’s site, in a firm’s private cloud network, or on a third-party cloud service.

• Asset Management Suite (AMS) ARES includes an easily deployed software asset management platform, which aggregates asset health from multiple business systems, and pushes this data via desktops and mobile devices to relevant plant personnel, depending on their roles and responsibilities;

• Always Mobile gives mobile professionals secure, anywhere/anytime access to role-based tools, analytics and dashboards. The program extends the reach of Plantweb by adding mobility to the AMS and DeltaV process automation platforms. Its DeltaV Mobile application lets users securely and remotely monitor processes and receive notifications on user-selected process alarms. Its AMS Trex Device Communicator gives maintenance technicians a consumer-quality user experience in a rugged tool built to withstand harsh industrial environments to isolate and repair problems without interrupting production. Its AMS Asset View persona-based alert system ensures that reliability personnel receive important and relevant alerts to ensure asset health;

• Connected Services are Microsoft-, cloud- and IIoT-enabled services that provide real-time monitoring of asset health, energy consumption and other operational parameters. They allow Emerson experts to constantly monitor and report on asset and operational performance, prioritize repair, and conduct asset trending. The services are scalable, leverage existing technology investments, and use Microsoft and Emerson’s advanced security capabilities; and

• Microsoft Azure and IoT Suite—on which Emerson has standardized—enable its Connected Services, and allow expansion of its Plantweb digital ecosystem to provide a secure, flexible platform for private cloud networks and third-party, cloud-service relationships

Thanks to adopting the Plantweb digital ecosystem, especially Connected Services, on 148 steam trap transmitters, Zornio reported that Denka Singapore’s resin plant has saved 7% on its consumption and energy demand for steam, and is proactively identifying and repairing more failed traps than it could with its former reactive inspection procedure.

Zornio concluded, “There’s a lot of talk about the promise of IIoT, and Emerson is delivering on its promise today with a compelling, flexible business case in Operational Certainty and the most robust, scalable technology and service platform with the Plantweb digital ecosystem. Emerson is putting the ROI in IoT.”

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