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Asset-specific insights to transform service workflows

Nov. 17, 2022
Digital technology transforming the engineering, service and support of automation systems and components

The digital transformation of industry doesn’t only apply to the real-time control and optimization of industrial processes. It also applies to the documentation, supply chains and context-specific workflows that support industrial assets across their lifecycles—and that includes the instruments, software and systems that make modern automation possible.

To better understand how, when it comes to industrial automation, the digital technology at our disposal can make online retailers’ estimated delivery times little more than entry stakes, Control caught up with Brian Fretschel, director of digital customer experience for Emerson.

Q: To start things off, perhaps you can outline for our readers the broader MyEmerson platform, and its initial focus on digitalizing and streamlining the engineering and specification processes involved in buying the company’s instrumentation products.

A: MyEmerson is the personalized access point to Emerson.com, and it serves as your portal to all the functionality relevant to your individual Emerson products, including as-purchased configurations, sizing calculations and the like. There’s also quote and order history, as well as the ability to reorder, validate prices, check lead times and other e-commerce functionalities.  

More recently there’s been on lot more focus on MySoftware, where you can manage and maintain your software licenses, as well as MyTraining, which is a new functionality around personalized training plans. So, MyEmerson is becoming an increasingly holistic experience across Emerson.com and your engagement with our solutions. But I think our most exciting effort of late has been our MyAssets buildout.

Q: How is the MyAssets offering different than the device-specific engineering and e-commerce information that you already had?

A: At its core, MyAssets provides a comprehensive record of all of the Emerson instruments at a particular customer's site. It contains access to historical information, device timelines, technical documents, certificates, upgrades, spares—a wealth of information specific to the installation and operation of a particular asset.

We hear from customers that not only is it great for troubleshooting problems more quickly, but all of this supporting data can also help keep processes up and running longer. The data it provides can assist in maintenance or obsolescence planning for your next turnaround or outage. A central use case for MyAssets is to reduce the number of trips back and forth from the field. Rather, engineers and technicians on the go always have access to all the information about a particular instrument at their disposal. They can find troubleshooting manuals and guides or reorder anything they might need. That’s really been a huge help for customers.

Q: It seems that with the pandemic, the QR codes that seemed to have fallen out of style came roaring back. And beyond restaurant menus, I understand they’ve also found their place onto millions of Emerson devices in the field, each with a unique, device-specific QR code. What further functionalities do these codes enable when it comes to instrumentation?

A:  I agree that the pandemic really reminded us of what a QR code could do, but I think mobile technology had really came a long way as well to make that renaissance possible. It’s now much easier to scan a QR code; there’s no app to download, it’s at people's fingertips. What's really interesting is the level of support, troubleshooting and training you can now get while you're at the device. You can scan the code, watch a quick video on how to do something with a particular instrument, or summon support if you need it. I believe the QR code has really unlocked a new high-water mark for troubleshooting and support while at the device—and that’s really exciting.

Q: I imagine you can also start to combine “see what I see” access to remote subject matter experts with the resource access MyAssets brings to the field.

A: Absolutely. You can get a much clearer picture of what's going on with the instrument, how it's installed, what the ambient conditions are like. It really helps from a troubleshooting perspective.

Q: Although MyAsset’s first efforts have been focused on instrumentation and other hardware devices, I can’t help but think of how important it could be for making sure that software and firmware is properly updated and patched. How is that handled now, and how does Emerson’s vision of Boundless Automation that was announced this week at Emerson Exchange impact the delivery of this value proposition in the future?

A: Today, the act of retrieving a download is pretty straightforward. You go to a website, you apply a few filters, you find the file you're looking for, you grab it and go. So, I think in this world of Boundless Automation and all this interconnected data, especially through MyAssets, we're starting to find those use cases of proactively notifying people when there's new firmware revisions or software updates that need to be applied.

We’ve been thinking a lot about device access and license management and how all that gets controlled, stored and managed. It’s all evolving really quickly, and we’ll soon be able to see the current firmware on a device and quickly access and install the next firmware upgrade. That used to be a lot of emailing back and forth, searching around on websites. That will soon be more streamlined, with MySoftware and MyAssets working in tandem to be able to deliver that for customers. It’s a perfect example of delivering on that vision of the intelligent field integrated seamlessly up into the cloud.

Q: So, what’s next? Are there other things your customers are asking for and what's the next high priority for you?

A: One of our next steps is to look at enabling and streamlining the procurement workflow coming out of the field. Why not connect the asset data information to the procurement organization to streamline the procurement process after troubleshooting gets done? MyTraining, too, is new, and we’ll continue to build that out, adding troubleshooting primers and support tactics to the experience. There’s a lot yet to do; these are just some of the areas to watch out for.

For more information on the MyEmerson suite of capabilities and to register to create your own free account, visit https://www.emerson.com/en-us/automation/digital.

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