Plantweb ecosystem conquers new digital worlds

After last year's launch of the digital ecosystem, Plantweb’s expanding capabilities are paving the way for connections that interact with digital realms beyond the plant floor.

By Jim Montague

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Just as one good question inspires others, last year's launch of the Plantweb digital ecosystem is paving the way for more new capabilities, which have been gathering momentum. Plantweb now has the critical mass to surpass itself, connect beyond its usual plant floors and interact with other digital realms for better decisions and top-quartile performance.

After talking to more than 5,000 customers since last year, Emerson Automation Solutions unveiled an array of new and upcoming tools and services for the Plantweb digital ecosystem at Emerson Global Users Exchange 2017 in Minneapolis. All of these innovations are based, of course, on Plantweb and Emerson's 30-year foundation of process control and optimization solutions.

"Because the next era of value creation will be enabled by digital transformation, we need to apply the five essential competencies of automating workflows, decision support, workforce ‘upskilling,’ mobility and change management," said Emerson CTO Peter Zornio. "This will enable users to automate mundane production tasks and let core production workers focus on handling exceptions, abnormalities and other functions beyond control, such as reliability and safety."

Zornio added that Emerson sees the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as an evolution, not a revolution, which will be deployed by local experts on their automation networks, leverage centralized on-site or cloud-hosted experts overseeing fleets of facilities, and bring in third-party expertise as needed via cloud services.

“Manufacturing jobs are rapidly becoming data-centric roles, requiring immediately actionable information for experts across the enterprise,” explained Zornio. “Through a deep understanding of customer visions for organizational effectiveness and business performance improvement, Emerson is innovating breakthrough products and services to accelerate that organizational transformation.

“A clear message from industry is that a one-size-fits-all, vendor-prescribed IIoT approach won’t work. Users want to identify specific business challenges, target technology to improve performance and scale up investment based on results achieved. That’s why we've architected Plantweb to enable companies to get started where they can gain the greatest near-term impact.”

Expanded Plantweb portfolio

The latest additions to the Plantweb digital ecosystem expand on its existing automation infrastructure to make IIoT capabilities scalable and achievable. This enhanced portfolio includes a host of tools and services.

  • Pervasive Sensing, which is a foundation of the Plantweb digital ecosystem, provides enhanced visibility into process performance and asset health. This network of robust sensing, measuring and monitoring technologies features more than 50 wireless devices for temperature, pressure, corrosion, vibration and acoustics. The portfolio is expanding to include Rosemount 928 wireless, toxic-gas monitor for hard-to-access applications; explosion-proof approvals for THUM adapters in the United States and Canada; high-accuracy, wireless guided-wave radars devices; and Therm-O-Disc power meter monitors.
  • Secure First Mile connectivity architecture provides secure data transfers from operations to authorized, Internet-based applications, services or mobile users. This security portfolio is enhanced with certification from the ISA Secure standard. To accelerate adoption of new service relationships such as Emerson’s Connected Services, Secure First Mile works with different security models to use IT infrastructures to create secure connections. This includes cloud-to-cloud or direct-to-edge connections to field-level sensors and instruments via Microsoft Azure, such as direct connections with data diodes that only publish data outward, physically independent networks and OSIsoft's Pi cloud connections.
  • Plantweb Insights is a scalable, lightweight, Web-based software platform that helps users to instantly make sense of plant data with Pervasive Sensing devices and pre-built analytics to provide relevant time monitoring and identification of abnormal situations for different asset classes. Winner of this year's Vaaler Award, Plantweb Insight has added air-cooled heat exchangers, corrosion, heat exchangers, network management and pressure-relief devices. In 2018, Plantweb Insight will begin to log releases and identify failures; diagnose vibration and cooling issues; identify status and alarm conditions; and monitor pipe integrity and health.
  • Plantweb Advisor is a scalable suite of software applications that use deeper analytics to provide critical data about equipment health and efficiency, as well as energy consumption and emissions. Complete with a modernized, human-centered interface, Plantweb Advisor has been expanded to provide analytics for mining and metrology applications.
  • Always Aware expands on prior mobility solutions to deliver role-based, relevant data and alerts, regardless of users' locations, enabling more effective collaboration and driving actions to improve asset and process performance. Updates include RFID asset management tags and AMS ARES's integration with interfaces such as AMS Device Manager, AMS Machinery Manager, Plantweb Insight and Plantweb Advisor. These updates will allow users to view device summaries on smart phones and other mobile devices.
  • Connected Services include remote assessments of plant equipment and processes by Emerson experts. Zornio reported these services are based on streaming technology supported by Microsoft Azure, and will accomplish tasks such as enhancing valve connected services. These updates also include capabilities for subscription-based services that need little or no capital investment. They also feature industrial Wi-Fi network management for system health monitoring of Cisco Wi-Fi networks, and engineered Plantweb solutions, such as management of Plantweb Insight and Advisor applications by Emerson personnel.
  • Foundational Solutions provide core process control and safety systems critical to plant operations. Enhancements to Plantweb include the new DeltaV Live operator interface that employs human-centered design principles to integrate numerous data points and improve control system functionality with a more efficient, intuitive interface that can be used in project designs, daily operations and cross-platform applications viewable with native, scalable HTML5 display technology. "This represents a big leap forward for DeltaV," added Zornio.

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