If complexity is the disease, then simplicity is the cure.
To overcome the swelling complications in technology and organization that are threatening to overwhelm many manufacturers, Emerson Process Management is responding with a series of solutions to help users fight back. The company demonstrated these tools at the Conquering Complexity 2010 press event on the opening day of Emerson Global Users Exchange 2010 at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.
"We're looking at a perfect storm of more complex technologies and less experienced users," said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. "Plants are getting larger, single facilities are getting more integrated, and technology is accelerating. However, at the same time, research shows that 40% of petrochemical workers are nearing retirement, and most new facilities are being built in developing areas where there is even less experience. Meanwhile, it still takes years to gain the know-how needed to make the right decisions in process facilities, and this length of time is only increasing as technologies advance."
Peter Zornio, Emerson's chief strategic officer, added, "Users are responsible for executing large, dynamic projects on time and on budget, but they're challenged with rigid engineering processes, inflexible schedules and costly changes."
As a result, Emerson began addressing this problem six years ago, when it began pioneering efforts in Human-Centered Design, which seeks to make users' jobs easier to do. Perhaps the chief result of these efforts was Emerson's new Delta V S-Series hardware, which greatly simplifies how field signals—point-to-point, wireless or fieldbus—are brought back to the control area, and also simplifies the wiring and connections over which those signals are delivered. Instead of the old, point-to-point marshalling cabinets, I/O on Demand uses Characterization Modules (CHARMs) that establish electronic marshalling connections, and then can be switched and rearranged as the needs of the application change. This can hugely compress the schedule and costs of many process automation projects.
"Good golf swings and process projects are also about overcoming variability and conquering complexity," said Vince Grindelay, director of Fluor Supply Chain Solutions LLC in Camberley, U.K. Grindelay presented "Evaluating the Impact Electronic Marshalling on the Project Executing Process" during the Conquering Complexity press event.
Fluor's scope on the project was to provide detailed engineering, procurement and commissioning support services to an integrated oil and gas project. Emerson's scope was 80% of the project's automaton, including Delta V process automation system, safety instrumented systems for fire and gas, and pre-fabricated control building, field auxiliary rooms and remote control facilities.
Electronic marshaling would have aided Fluor and its client's project because:
- Emerson wouldn't have needed finalized data until much later in the project schedule.
- Only the projected system I/O and preliminary information would have been required.
- Systems cabinets would have been built and shipped to the site based on calculated system size and preliminary data.
- Addition or change of I/O would have been simple with no significant cost or schedule impact associated with rework.
- CHARMs could have been installed onsite once details were finalized, immediately before loop checking and site acceptance testing.
"With traditional marshalling, we had two parties working on the project at the same time at both the design and implementation stages, and so they were using completely different information, which introduced a lot more variability," Grindelay said. "So, we needed a design freeze to allow Emerson to catch up with work that had already been executed." Because of this, there was no opportunity to do factory or combined testing with other facilities worldwide.
"Electronic marshalling doesn't need physical combination testing because of what the CHARMS can do," he said. "This adds a lot of flexibility that supports construction efforts to run and terminate cables. It also would have moved up the base scope design freeze to realign the project by a whole year, and we wouldn't have had to issue modification packs, which also would have meant a lot less labor. "
Consequently, as a result of implementing I/O on Demand, Fluor's study revealed that it could have achieved a startling series of improvements with Emerson's new electronic marshalling over traditional marshalling. The ranges of these improvements would have included:
- Installation materials—15-35%
- Cable tray—22-50%
- Installation labor—3-25%
- Engineering procurement—45-50%
- I/O design—45-70%
- Cable drawings—70%
- Loop drawings—45%
- Total installed loop cost—23-34%
- Late change impact—50-100%
"The study found that this project could have saved more than $2 million, which was 10% of the total automation package," Grindelay explained. "It also would have had a cost savings on a per-loop basis of 34%. Also, the cost reduction of design changes would have been 80%, and the cost reduction of two modification packs would have been 45%."