Emerson optimistic despite digitalization

Dec 13, 2018

Just as communities and industries in the U.S. have bounced back from recent hurricanes, Emerson Automation Solutions has been using innovations to turn challenges into opportunities. All of these solutions and benefits they deliver were highlighted in hundreds of conference sessions and exhibits at Emerson Global Users Exchange 2018 on Oct. 1-4 in San Antonio, Texas.

"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, newly appointed chairman of Emerson Automation Solutions and president of Emerson, during his keynote address—where he also introduced Lal Karsanbhai as the new executive president of 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's a huge increase in scheduled projects—a 500% increase in capital expenditures (CapEx) over the next three years. “In downstream oil and gas, there are twice as many registered projects in refining between 2018-20 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,” added Train. “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. 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.”

Committed to digital

In addition, Emerson completed its acquisition last year of the valves and controls business from Pentair, including Vanessa, Keystone and Crosby. “That's 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.

In addition, Emerson 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.

To help users capitalize on digitalization, Train added that Emerson Project Certainty can help with better projects, while the Plantweb ecosystem lets users start anywhere and scale their 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.

Read the full coverage of Emerson Global Users Exchange 2018.

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