Business Outlook Buoyant in Era of Transformation

By Paul Studebaker

Oct 01, 2018

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“It’s been a big year since last October, when some of you couldn’t make it to the Exchange due to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Now the southeast coast is recovering from Hurricane Florence,” said Mike Train, then executive president, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Together with countless heroes, Emerson worked with our customers and communities to restore operations, homes and lives, in a spirit of collaboration, coming together and coming out stronger.

“We see similar effects in the industries we serve. Last year, West Texas Intermediate was in the $50 range, now it’s $73 a barrel. That’s spurring a lot of optimism, and that goes beyond oil and gas, beyond North America. There is a huge increase in scheduled projects—a 500% increase in capital expenditures (CapEx) over the next three years.”

Train delivered the keynote address at Emerson Global Users Exchange, October 1 in San Antonio. “In downstream oil and gas, there are twice as many registered projects in refining between 2018-2020 than there were in the previous 17 years combined.”

In power, renewables and a generational change in operators is driving new innovation like digital twins, which can help with situational training as well as control strategy modeling for optimizing performance. In life sciences, aging population and scientific advances are driving production demand for pharmaceutical and biologics, including personalized, small-batch medical therapies. Metals and mining is ending a downturn, driven by capital project demand. “’Smart mining’ strategies are creating a boon of innovation in the areas of safety, reliability and production optimization,” Train said. “Food and beverage is dealing with more discriminating consumer tastes, and a push for packaging flexibility where automation is enabling operational improvements, safety and flexibility.

“And with all this project activity, engineering contractors aren’t getting a lot of sleep these days—and I think that’s just how they like it.”

Your most trusted partner

“Emerson has also been very busy, driven by our commitment to be your most trusted partner,” Train said. Last year, Emerson completed its acquisition of the valves and controls business from Pentair, including Vanessa, Keystone and Crosby. “That has proven to be a great addition to our family of final control offerings, and enables Emerson to serve as your main valve partner,” Train added.

The company continues to invest heavily in software and analytics, both in internal development and acquisitions. “Over the past year, we added the Paradigm, Geofields and Prosys software brands to our lineup. These great technologies give us expanded capabilities to serve you in subsea and reservoir modeling, pipeline integrity and operator training and simulation,” Train said, “And as we expand our solutions and support for customers in hybrid and discrete manufacturing, we’ve acquired Aventics, a leader in smart pneumatics technologies that power machine and factory automation.”

Emerson has also made investments around the world in facilities and people, including opening 40 new service centers around the world to “let us respond faster and help you resolve your toughest challenges,” Train said.

Digital transformation is beyond buzz

Expanding the use of digital technologies promises to revolutionize manufacturing and create new business models, but leveraging digitalization requires both a vision and a path forward. For success, Train said, users should focus on three steps:

  1. Make technology decisions based on business needs.
  2. Have a long-term vision, and design a scalable approach to reach it.
  3. Make sure each investment in technology is also in people.

Emerson Project Certainty can help with better projects, and the Plantweb ecosystem lets users start anywhere and scale the investments. Opportunities can be identified among the five essentials for Top Quartile performance: automated workflows, decision support, mobility, change management and workforce upskilling.

“Digitalization is bringing a wave of new technologies and a search for justification, which is not new. But this time, it’s not only technology, it’s about the organization, people, processes and collaboration,” Train said. “It’s always about people, and automation will not replace them. Finding and acquiring qualified people will be a major challenge in the next few years.”

Nowhere is collaboration more important than the need for IT and OT to work together, to bring IT scope and security into the hardened world of OT. “Top Quartile performance requires cooperation and collaboration—IT and OT convergence. They’re different cultures, and now mutually dependent,” Train said. “If you don’t have a good relationship with IT, you will struggle to move your organization forward.”

Educate your IT colleagues, and help them understand your goals, such as asset reliability, wireless to bring data from inaccessible places, making data available to everyone, and mobile to drive collaboration and speed problem-solving. “IT are masters at scaling and reducing vulnerability, and can be a huge ally in digital transformation of your business,” Train added. “Walk out of here with a vision for driving and accelerating change in your organization.”

Change at the top

Train then introduced Lal Karsanbhai as the new executive president, Emerson Automation Solutions. Karsanbhai announced that Train is now president of Emerson, and chairman of Emerson Automation Solutions.

Karsanbhai has been with Emerson for 21 years, starting as a strategic planner, then leading the regulators business, the natural gas team in Europe, and the Middle East & Africa portion of the network power business. Most recently he served as president of the Rosemount business.

“Earlier, we talked briefly about the huge percentage of customers we surveyed, who had a vision for digital transformation, but don’t yet have a clear path how to reach it. There were also quite a few who were executing pilot projects without a clear vision or roadmap,” Karsanbhai said. “Despite all the confusing hype in the industry about IIoT and Digital Transformation, it’s actually pretty simple.”

Start with a measurable business case, such as an important metric or KPI the plant is not consistently hitting. Target the ones that matter most, make improvements, then scale investments step-by-step, based on value. And make sure that the investments are in people as much as in infrastructure.

For example, a practical roadmap for personnel safety would start at the existing manual system, with periodic or ad hoc reporting. “Let’s say you want to get more real-time visibility to your basic personnel safety. You might start with monitoring of safety showers, fire extinguishers or a safety gate, so at least you know something happened, even if you don’t know what.”

Next, add equipment monitoring to assets that can disrupt production or contribute to a personnel safety issue. For example, add real-time monitoring to equipment like pumps, corrosion in piping, tank overfill, hydrocarbon leaks, and flame and gas detection. “Now you are at least notified of equipment failures after they’ve happened,” Karsanbhai said.

Then it might be important to know in real time where people are, especially in an emergency. “That would look like the location awareness technology I’m wearing now, and you can see this week,” Karsanbhai said. Combined with intelligent camera systems, you can have a clear picture of where each person is throughout the facility, making mustering easier and improving response times in man-down situations.

The next level is to become truly predictive. “To harness the full value of all that data you are capturing in sensors, you need rich analytics to better analyze conditions and predict process and equipment problems before they happen,” Karsanbhai said. “New prognostics and digital twin technologies let you see into the future and even model it, giving you confidence of each decision. These technologies are available today.

“Ultimately, as we are seeing in the automotive industry, artificial Intelligence (AI) will give us the ability to evolve to autonomous processes, reducing risk and exposure to personnel.”

Emerson moving forward

Emerson has been making investments to simplify the digital transformation. “Emerson’s consultants can help you get on the right path to digital transformation,” Karsanbhai said. “Our operations, applications and technology architecture experts use proven methodologies to help you pinpoint exactly the right place to begin.”

“This week at Exchange we are introducing our Digital Transformation Roadmap. It starts with a workshop, the output of which is a digital roadmap customized to your specific priorities. It includes work streams for OT/IT collaboration, technology selection, information architectures, execution plans and ROI calculations.”

On the technology front, Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem is continuing to expand. The range of applications for pervasive sensing “are truly limitless, and when deployed wirelessly, you save huge amounts on engineering, labor and materials,” Karsanbhai said.

For cybersecurity, the new DeltaV version 14 is the first control system to achieve ISA SSA Service Level 1 certification.

The analytics and software portfolio continues to expand its range from lightweight mobile analytics to keep maintenance teams informed in real time, to deep analytical tools for trend analysis and performance modeling. “We have developed several ‘killer apps’ to help you harness the rich data pervasive sensing provides,” he said.

“I personally think we are at one of the most dynamic times in our industry,” Karsanbhai concluded. “The upside opportunity each of you has is enormous. You are here because your organization is looking to you to help them reach Top Quartile performance, and Emerson could not be prouder to be your partner in this journey.”