Another day, another two virtual experiences. The good thing about working from home enforced by the pandemic is that I can get more information virtually than if I had to travel to each venue. On the other hand, so far this year, I have two trips, leaving my frequent flier miles just a bit short.

Today’s kickoff was the second day of the Emerson Exchange Virtual Event. There will be three more monthly events for this round of Emerson Exchange. The first round was November, and I wrote about it here. It is anticipating a live event in September in Washington, D.C. for 2021. I look forward to returning to that venue. The last time, I was in the media business and running the “show daily newspaper.”

This was measurement day, and measurement, as introduced by Emerson Automation Group President for Measurement, Jon Stokes, is the source of digital data—the fundamental building block of the digital transformation.

The keynote was a conversation between Stokes and Technology Vice President Dave Wahls.

Some of the key points:

  • Wireless keeps growing in importance to customers
  • Emerson has added strength to analytics as a companion to collecting all that data
  • Wahls discussed “Smart Meter Verification”, another solution that helps reduce trips to the field, which is a big assist to maintenance and operations personnel workflows
  • The group continues to work on product consistency, especially displays making their interface more common across the product line (this was introduced to me in detail by Marketing VP Bill Morrison quite some time ago as Emerson made this a priority)
  • Interestingly, QR codes are a big thing, as Emerson has been adding as many as possible—point a smart device at the QR code and retrieve valuable documentation immediately
  • Emerson has also prioritized cybersecurity throughout its product line
  • Finally, they discussed people and workflow and how they can do things to enable new behaviors and workflows to help customers in this age of reduced staffing and bringing in a new generation

The session concluded with a conversation between Stokes and Scott Pendegrass, Control Systems Team Lead for Motiva in Port Arthur, the country’s largest refinery.

What has been the immediate consequence of response to Covid-19?

Immediately, all personnel not required for actual operations were sent home to work from there. Then there was the financial impact. The corporation shut down as much spending as possible. Engineers and operations and even maintenance needed to find creative ways to get things done spending as little as possible. They found that wireless instrumentation was a great help for getting things done and sourcing important data at a low cost. Speaking of data, when making critical decisions about plant operations with minimal staffing and expenditures, it is a crucial element. The investments previously made in digital control systems revealed their true value.

The first Emerson Exchange session emphasized digital transformation. I was surprised at how quickly and readily Emerson has jumped on the latest digital and IT technologies—even to acknowledging the importance of servers and the cloud. Heck, the next time I might even hear them talk about High Performance Compute platforms! Who knows?

There will be sessions in January, February and March. Check it out.

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