ABB has moved its media relations, at least the people working with me, to England. Two other major European industrial technology providers also have moved marketing and media relations from the US to England. I have no idea whether this is a statement about the state of the US market or the state of their cost structure. Maybe both.
ABB changed CEOs several years ago and just changed again. These precipitated changes in corporate emphases—divesting several large businesses and adding others. The variety in these three announcements certainly reflects the new diversity of the corporate portfolio.
ABB drone-based leak detection and greenhouse gas measuring system
HoverGuard can help operators of USA’s three million miles of pipeline infrastructure to increase their safety and environmental capabilities in line with the USA 2020 PIPES Act.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the majority of gas shipments in the US take place using the millions of miles of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. On December 27, 2020, the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act was signed into law in the United States. The Act directs gas pipeline operators to use advanced leak detection technologies to protect the environment and pipeline safety.
Detection of odorless and invisible gas leaks can be challenging and expensive. ABB’s latest addition to its ABB Ability Mobile Gas Leak Detection System, HoverGuard, provides the solution by finding leaks faster and more reliably than ever before.
HoverGuard is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-based system that detects, quantifies and maps leaks up to 300 ft from natural gas distribution and transmission pipelines, gathering lines, storage facilities, and other potential sources quickly, safely and reliably. It automatically generates comprehensive digital reports that summarize results and can be shared in minutes after a survey.
The cloud-connected, multi-gas solution is also the first of its kind to quantify the three most important greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor continuously while flying. Each greenhouse gas affects the environment differently and is present in the air in different amounts. Sourcing individual gases also provides important information to scientists and researchers when studying the complex environmental processes affecting climate and pollution.
Patented cavity enhanced laser absorption spectroscopy detects methane with a sensitivity more than 1,000 times higher than conventional leak detection tools. This sensitivity and speed allow HoverGuard to detect leaks while flying at altitudes of 130 ft, or higher, and at speeds greater than 55 mph. It can cover 10-15 times more land area per minute by operating on low-cost commercial UAV capable of carrying a payload of 6.6 lbs.
ABB calls for more collaboration with OEMs
ABB has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hitachi Construction Machinery to share their expertise and collaborate in bringing solutions to market that will reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with heavy machinery in mining.
The companies will explore possibilities to apply ABB’s electrification, automation, and digital solutions to mining trucks and excavators provided by Hitachi Construction Machinery as part of wider efforts with mine operators to electrify all processes from pit to port. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Hitachi Construction Machinery also brings expertise in driverless operation and labor-saving technologies. The aim of the combined solutions is to enhance the efficiency and flexibility of customer businesses, contributing to the reduction of CO₂ and the realization of a sustainable society.
The collaboration with Hitachi Construction Machinery is one of many that ABB are looking to develop with OEMs to accelerate the transition to all-electric mines.
“ABB is calling for more collaboration between OEMs and technology companies to fast-track the development of new emissions-reducing systems with electrification and automation of the whole mining operation the goal. We are ready to work more with OEMs to establish a common approach for the market, and through strategic collaboration provide solutions that can help enable a low-carbon society and make mining operations more responsible,” said Joachim Braun, Division President, Process Industries, ABB. “New emissions-reducing technologies can transform the energy-intensive mining industry to achieve an even more productive, but also sustainable future.”
“Today, the challenge of our customers is on electrification of trucks and the time to change is now. But nobody can achieve this transformation alone. Co-creation of solutions with OEMs and mining companies is needed to successfully integrate electrification in mines.” said Max Luedtke, ABB’s Global Head of Mining.
ABB Ability Performance Optimization Service for cold rolling mills
ABB has launched its new ABB Ability Performance Optimization Service for cold rolling mills, offering steel, aluminum, and other metals manufacturers opportunities to reach new levels of operational performance through technology, boosting their processes and profitability.
The new service – part of ABB’s metals digital portfolio and Collaborative Operations for Metals suite – combines continuous performance monitoring using ABB Ability Data Analytics for cold rolling mills, with real time support from ABB experts. ABB will work alongside customers with the vision of continuing to transform the metals industry.
The data analytics component uses process-specific algorithms based on a century of metals domain expertise to collect high frequency data from mill control systems and discover trends, benchmarks and other performance factors, sending alerts to operators and maintenance when opportunities to optimize performance are identified.
Alongside this, ABB experts are available to provide onsite or offsite support, recommending actions to ensure the mill maintains its performance targets against key performance indicators (KPIs) for productivity, quality and yield. Leveraging the collective strengths of metals producers and ABB experts, access to dashboards is shared, enabling all parties to drill down to individual coil level.
In addition, ABB experts can provide customers with detailed reports at regular intervals describing areas for improvement, identified trends, or problem areas found in historical data, allowing for continuous improvement over time.
Key benefits include continuous collaboration and access to experts; increased productivity through improved asset performance and reduced downtime; higher yield and quality resulting from immediate corrective action when problems occur; reduced risk of equipment failure; the ability to leverage insights across the enterprise and reductions in wastage, energy and other costs.
New capability ensures configuration data integrity and signal tracing to improve process safety, reduce cyber risk and support digital transformation
PAS (now PAS Global, part of Hexagon) has long provided some valuable and interesting solutions for process automation. Its Integrity series of configuration management tools now integrated with its cyber security work offers many benefits. This announcement was highlighted at our meetings (virtual, of course) at the 2021 ARC Industry Forum.
PAS Global announced Sensor Data Integrity, a new Automation Integrity module, which enables industrial organizations to ensure configuration data integrity for smart and traditional sensors with signal tracing and validation. This addition to Automation Integrity helps reduce both process safety and cyber risk in support of digital transformation and Industrie 4.0 initiatives.
As industrial organizations expand their deployment of smart sensors, it is becoming increasingly more complex to manage configuration consistency across field device management, distributed control systems (DCS), programmable logic controllers (PLC), safety instrumented systems (SIS), historians and other operational technology (OT). Managing the complex configuration of millions of multi-vendor sensors consistently has become a major challenge for industrial companies. The lack of effective sensor management also puts digital transformation initiatives at risk of falling short of their intended benefits, potentially wasting multimillion-dollar investments.
The new Sensor Data Integrity module provides multi-vendor:
Discovery of smart, industrial IoT, and traditional analog sensors
Visibility to the complete inventory and potential cyber vulnerability for sensors
Creation of templates to define approved configuration for each sensor type
Automated detection of configuration errors
Automated identification of devices that don’t match assigned templates
Cross-checking of parameters (ranges, units, etc.)
Support for large-scale, multi-site sensor deployments
Sensor signal tracing, validation and visualization
The information provided by Sensor Data Integrity can also be leveraged by sensor asset management systems (AMS) to support instrument calibration and can feed PAS Cyber Integrity to support cybersecurity vulnerability assessments.
“PAS has a strong history of customer-led innovation and the development of Sensor Data Integrity builds on that tradition,” said Eddie Habibi, PAS Founder. “The expansion of smart sensors is making it increasingly difficult for operations teams to monitor for configuration drift and inconsistencies. This means teams are spending more time trying to find issues instead of correcting them, which increases the risk of poor plant performance and cyber vulnerabilities. PAS, now part of Hexagon, is the first technology provider addressing this challenge with a multi-vendor solution that works across OT systems.”
With Sensor Data Integrity, industrial organizations will:
Reduce manual effort in reconciling sensor and field device configurations
Improve plant performance and reduce safety risk (e.g., fewer unit trips due to bad configurations)
Reduce sensor configuration drift and errors by more than 40%
Enhance decision-making with higher-quality sensor diagnostics
Leverage sensor data for vulnerability assessment and obsolescence planning
“Multi-vendor sensor configuration management is a long-standing challenge in the industrial sector and the problem is only getting worse with the proliferation of smart sensors,” said Larry O’Brien, Research VP ARC Advisory Group. “In a 2017 study, ARC estimated the process industries lose as much as $1 trillion per year due to unplanned downtime. Misconfigured or inconsistent sensor configurations are key contributors to these events. We are pleased to see PAS, with support from key customers, has introduced sensor data integrity to address this pervasive and growing problem.”
Here is the Yokogawa announcement from this year’s ARC Industry Forum. This Collaborative Information Server fits firmly in the trend of providing plant data for better decision-making at both the operations and management level.
Yokogawa Electric Corporation has developed Collaborative Information Server (CI Server) as part of the OpreX Control and Safety System family. The solution will integrate the handling of all kinds of data from plant facilities and systems to enable the optimized management of production activities across an entire enterprise, and provide the environment needed to remotely monitor and control operations from any location. By reducing the need for travel, this also helps to lessen the risk of infection with COVID-19.
As supply chains stretch across the globe and customer needs grow ever more diverse, many companies today are having to deal with increasing complexity in the supply of raw materials and in their operations. At the same time, they are experiencing labor shortages as their most experienced operators age and retire. Under these circumstances, companies must pursue efficiency in their operations and make decisions quickly in response to market changes if they are to remain profitable. And to streamline operations and ensure the safety of their workforce, there is a rapidly growing need for remote solutions that will enable personnel to work together without actually having to be on site.
To meet these needs, Yokogawa has developed CI Server, a solution that automatically aggregates the data that has been acquired from plant facilities and systems so that personnel in any location can monitor and operate them and have access to all the information needed to make swift and effective decisions.
1. The streamlining of operations and assurance of safety through an operating environment that can be accessed anywhere
A plant operates most effectively when there is full collaboration between plant operators, experts in areas such as maintenance and quality management, and decision makers at headquarters, as well as with other plants. CI Server provides a remote operation environment that supports wide-area communications and allows plant operations to be monitored and controlled from remote locations such as integrated operations centers. CI Server can be used from any PC or mobile device with a web browser to monitor and control a plant’s operations. Efficient operation from any location is facilitated by creating a suitable dashboard for an organization and granting the necessary access permissions.
As well as helping to facilitate smooth collaboration among decision makers and other experts who are not at plant sites, CI Server also aids in the efficient operation and management of power plants that are often spread out over a wide area and situated in harsh environments, offshore installations, and other facilities. Furthermore, by eliminating the need for travel to plant sites, CI Server reduces the need for interpersonal contact and thereby leads to a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission for individuals, companies, and the community.
2. Smooth data integration and centralized management of the information needed for swift decision making
Facilities and systems often differ in the data formats and the communications protocols that they employ, and this complicates the aggregation of information and the management of data in a unified format. CI Server supports a range of communications protocols, and can not only acquire process data from control systems, but also aggregate data such as the operational status of facilities and equipment, raw material and finished product inventory, and energy consumption. Data on equipment maintenance, product quality, and other items are all gathered automatically in real time, converted to a unified format, and linked and associated. Data from a wide variety of systems and devices made by different vendors can also be gathered and integrated, both on an individual and multiple plant basis.
The collection and organization of the required data using a unified format previously had to be done manually. The automation of these tasks by CI Server saves time and ensures that the right information is delivered in real time to the right persons, for swift and effective decision making. CI Server enables a quick response to market changes and aids in the optimization of costs and enhancement of operational efficiency not only at individual plants but across an entire company’s manufacturing operations.
3. Use of data in operational improvement activities and in applications
Not only is CI Server’s integration of data useful in managing plants, it also helps to improve production efficiency and quality. CI Server enables the linkage of data in a unified format so that it can be used across the board in information systems, quality improvement systems, data analysis applications, and other such systems, and the data collected over long time periods can be automatically incorporated into and utilized by such systems and applications.
For example, in process industries where the quality of raw materials and the soundness of production equipment is closely linked to the quality of finished products, the analysis of data with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) software can identify new correlations and important key performance indicators that can help to reduce failures and improve overall operations. Furthermore, by constructing a digital twin for a plant using data that has been integrated by CI Server, it is possible to verify new solutions, new parameter settings, and other such operational improvements in advance.
Shigeyoshi Uehara, a Yokogawa vice president and head of the IA Systems and Service Business Headquarters, says, “The new Collaborative Information Server solution provides the requisite data management infrastructure for customers to carry out their digital transformation (DX). Yokogawa calls the future of the manufacturing industry IA2IA, industrial automation to industrial autonomy, and we will help industries with this migration from being automated to being autonomous. Yokogawa possesses solutions to improve operational efficiency, energy efficiency, quality, and other aspects through data utilization, and with CI Server will provide support to customers for improved production activities and for sustainable business growth.”
OK, so I’m on an ABB kick, it seems. Today is the annual report from the ARC Advisory Group on Distributed Control Systems (DCS) market share. And for the 21st consecutive year, the leader is ABB.
When you are older, you have memories. I remember a time when it was just A and BB. The BB part purchased our building when a certain company president drove us into Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. (Not me, I tried to get us out.) Then A+BB=ABB, then ABB consolidating the DCS market by acquiring a number of companies. And ABB has managed not only to not screw up the acquisitions (which many companies do) but build a sustainable product line. Following is the release from ABB:
ARC estimates the global market valued at $15 billion. Holding an overall share of 19.2%, ABB leads the field thanks to its domain knowledge in multiple industries, extensive service network and a continued investment in technology and digital solutions that meet rapidly changing customer requirements. This puts ABB more than two points ahead of the nearest DCS competitor.
The largest share of 2019 DCS market growth came from oil and gas, chemicals, mining, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, followed by food & beverage, metals, cement, and pulp & paper. With its two main DCS offerings, ABB Ability System 800xA and ABB Ability Symphony Plus, ABB has a strong presence in each of these segments. ABB is also a leader in several of the key DCS trends identified in the report, including Modular Automation, Batch, Characterizable I/O, and Remote Services.
As the DCS leader, ABB continuously develops new control benefits for customers. For example, by processing the massive amounts of data generated by the DCS, ABB continues to develop new data analytics that help customers to increase production efficiency, and leverage machine learning capabilities that improve problem predictability and extend asset life.
“I want to thank our customers for their longstanding support, helping us to shape ABB’s automation offering and expertise into what it is today,” said Bernhard Eschermann, Chief Technology Officer, ABB Industrial Automation. “Automation makes a difference in the world around us. The DCS is the backbone for much of the digitalization transforming our customers’ industries. It helps to provide many of the elements essential to modern society, such as the water we drink, the energy we consume, or the materials used to build our homes.”
“During more robust economic times, process industry producers often rely on new production machinery to increase output. In the current highly demanding economic environment, customers are squeezing as much value as they can out of existing assets, running as efficiently as possible to protect profit margins. Maximizing assets and efficiencies is what DCS do,” he said. “We see it as our duty to continue to develop solutions that offer these benefits and more for our customers.”
A key focus of ABB’s annual $1.5 billion research & development investment is the further expansion of DCS and other digital and automation capabilities in the context of Industry 4.0. In July, ABB brought two new offerings to market that use DCS data with value-added applications to improve customer production availability, process performance and product quality. The ABB Ability Edgenius Operations Data Manager gleans value from DCS data, while the ABB Ability GenixIndustrial Analytics and AI Suite combines data from operations (e.g. DCS), engineering and information technology for multi-dimensional data analytics and decision support.
Services saw the highest growth in relation to software and hardware in the ARC report. This trend accelerated in 2020, which created a high need for remote services. One such service, ABB Ability Collaborative Operations, a remote-enabled network of ABB experts and technologies, uses many ABB DCS technologies to remotely monitor and support customer assets and processes. ABB experts in ABB Collaborative Operations centers globally are available 24/7 to assist customers. The Collaborative Operations network continues to provide remote support for customers in travel-restricted situations.
Underground mining future
ABB electrification and automation knowledge and solutions have been employed in a pioneering mine of the future project, which has ultimate ambitions to demonstrate zero carbon dioxide emissions and productivity increases of 50 percent.
ABB has provided electrification, connected control and operations management systems, high-visualization and mobile operator workplaces as part of a global mining partnership to visualize a once-in-a-generation technology shift and reduce climate impact.
Devised by LKAB, the Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) project has the goal of setting a new world standard for sustainable mining at great depths in partnership with ABB, Combitech, Epiroc, and Sandvik. The framework outlines ambitions for zero carbon dioxide emissions, completely safe mines for humans, productivity increases of 50 per cent and deeper mining.
ABB will continue to contribute its knowledge in electrification, automation and workplaces together with other suppliers to the mining industry. The collaboration aims to find new methods and smarter solutions for mining operations in the future. Test work in LKAB’s Kiruna mine, northern Sweden, as well as a virtual test mine will study the best way to build a carbon dioxide free and autonomous production system.
Within the mine, the Konsuln orebody is used to demonstrate future workplaces in a decentralized environment with efficient use of an autonomous electrical mobile transport system in a mixed environment. Real time process information is available to all organizations involved. When combined with the wider efforts of the SUM partnership, this shows a way of bringing completely new technology solutions to market for safer, more sustainable and more efficient mining production processes.
“We are taking significant strides towards a vision of the future operator environment through smarter working and demonstrable results,” said Jan Nyqvist, Global Product Manager for Underground Mining Automation at ABB, and one of the leaders in the project. “Electrification and automation are two important factors for the mining industry to continue its rapid, but effective, modernization. Sharing of information and data is crucial to reach substantial end goals.
“It is becoming increasingly common for suppliers to create dedicated collaboration groups to reach the best possible solutions for their customers. Collective successes and progress and the meeting of key targets for SUM, are initial evidence of the mutual benefits of collaboration.”
ABB has a relatively large team committing time to the project, with experts in digitalization and research, as well as electrification and automation.
By 2022, the ABB electrification and automation solutions will be fully installed, and the aim is that a new standard for mining production will be set globally by 2030.
I have accumulated several pieces of news from ABB. The company has spent the Covid months quite busy.
Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB Industrial Automation becomes executive member of the EU Alliance established to kick-start the European hydrogen industry.
ABB supports India’s Koppal district to ease water shortages with digital water management solutions.
ABB launches ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists ensuring the highest level of personnel and equipment safety.
Clean Hydrogen Industry
ABB has been granted membership into the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance (ECH2A), the official EU body focused on an ambitious deployment of hydrogen (H2) technologies by 2030, as a means to reduce carbon emissions and help achieve European carbon neutrality by 2050.
Peter Terwiesch will be ABB’s executive sponsor in the Alliance and will be actively working with governments and other Alliance members to scale up the hydrogen value chain across Europe.
The use of hydrogen has been identified as crucial to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal and Europe’s clean energy transition. It has several uses, from storing renewable energy to fuelling heavy transport, and as energy and feedstock in energy-intensive industry, such as in the steel or chemical sectors.
Most importantly, hydrogen only emits water and heat when used, no carbon. In fact, if H2 is produced from renewable sources, the whole hydrogen value chain is carbon-free. Hydrogen thereby is an excellent complement to electricity and offers a solution to decarbonize industrial processes and economic sectors where reducing carbon emissions is both urgent and hard to achieve.
“Europe’s opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by scaling up the production, transport and use of hydrogen is significant. Automation, electrification and digitalization will play an important role in unlocking this potential. At ABB we are proud to be joining the ECH2A, to continue our collaborations with governments, industries, regulators and academia to further accelerate the implementation of hydrogen,” said Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB Industrial Automation. “We have a unique mix of relevant domain expertise and solutions to support industry and make a real difference in deploying new clean hydrogen technologies.”
ABB enables the transition from carbon-based fuels to hydrogen through its expertise and portfolio of systems, products, services and digital solutions. The company is collaborating with customers, partners and legislators to build the hydrogen ecosystem – from key technology collaborations to explore large-scale green production systems, to a new hydrogen production facility in France, and the development of megawatt-scale fuel cells to power large ocean-going ships.
In a unique project led by L&T Construction Water & Effluent Treatment IC for the Government of Kartanaka, ABB’s end-to-end solutions will help the local water authority to track, measure, and optimize water use in this drought-stricken region of southwest India, as well as pump and distribute clean treated river water to village homes. The solution includes 635 digital flowmeters and technologies to improve control at pumping stations and reservoirs.
With a population of around one million people, the Koppal district is regularly challenged by water shortages. Until now, responses have ranged from preserving ancient wells to following age-old water conservation practices, but thanks to digital technologies, the Kushtagi and Yelburga villages will soon benefit from ABB’s digital water management solutions as part of a multi-village clean drinking water scheme.
Koppal needed solutions that could effectively monitor water flow and manage leaks to reduce non-revenue water and achieve overall productivity improvement in a widely dispersed water distribution network set-up. L&T Construction Water & Effluent Treatment IC, the lead contractor for the project, chose ABB Ability Symphony Plus SCADA and ABB’s AquaMaster 4 flowmeters for the project, sanctioned by the Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Department, Koppal, Karnataka.
ABB’s engagement spans the end-to-end automation and instrumentation of the project, from the pumping station at the river to the treatment of clean drinking water. The route comprises 620 overhead tanks and 16 reservoirs. The project involves putting in place a network of RTUs (remote terminal units) for remote locations and pumping stations and ABB Ability Symphony Plus SCADA to supervise and control the operation. ABB Ability Symphony Plus SCADA is designed to maximize reliability and availability of water plants and networks through integrated information management, integration of equipment, and process optimization based on the entire water network data for safer and enhanced operations.
The SCADA solutions help monitor and analyze daily flow consumption patterns thereby identifying possible leaks and sending the information in real-time to the central control room. This helps to avert water loss because it means that leaks are identified and can be repaired swiftly.
ABB’s AquaMaster 4 elctromagnetic flowmeters, running on battery power, will offer reliability even in low flow conditions, in areas where most mechanical flowmeters would fail. They offer measurement accuracy down to flow velocities lower than 0.1m/s where most meters struggle to even detect flow. As the vast majority of leaks are small but continuous, the ability of AquaMaster to detect small variations in flow is crucial in combating the water shortage challenge in the Koppal district.
G Srinivas Rao, Head of ABB Measurement & Analytics in India, said: “As India moves swiftly towards smart and sustainable villages, towns and cities, one of the key challenges is water management. This project shows how ABB’s digital water management solutions can be deployed not only in cities but also to provide clean, drinking water in the villages that are crucial to our agrarian economy. We are proud partners in this project in the state where ABB India is headquartered, and in the district which contributes so significantly to our agricultural output.”
ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists
Global technology company ABB is launching ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists, a suite of mine hoist safety products that brings the highest level of personnel and equipment safety available to the mining industry. The products include Safety Plus Hoist Monitor (SPHM), Safety Plus Hoist Protector (SPHP) and Safety Plus Brake System (SPBS) including Safety Brake Hydraulics (SBH).
Designed in accordance with the international ‘safety of machinery’ standard (IEC62061), the products have been independently certified by research institute RISE (Research Institute of Sweden) which works with companies, academia and the public sector in industrialization, quality assurance and certification.
ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists includes the new ABB SIL 3 Safety Plus Brake System (SPBS), which is the mining industry’s first fully independently certified Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) mine hoist brake system. SPBS will increase the safety of personnel riding mine hoists as well as the safety of the equipment, hoist and shaft infrastructure. The new SPHP provides enhanced protection for the mine hoist and mine shaft infrastructure equipment.
ABB SIL 3 SPBS handles the application of the safety brakes during emergency stops and the prevention of brake lift. ABB SIL 3 SPHP monitors the speed and position of the hoists. It also monitors the instrumentation used by personnel accessing or using the hoist from different levels, for example, at gates and maintenance platforms, emergency stop buttons and remote lockout points. The ABB SIL 3 SPHP interfaces with the safety brake system to bring or keep the hoist to a safe state. It also interfaces with the drive and hoist control system.
“This is a significant milestone in mine hoist safety representing a world first for fully certified Safety Integrity Level 3 hoisting,” said Oswald Deuchar, Global Product Line Manager for Hoisting, ABB. “Labor safety is a key priority for mine operators and increasing legislation underlines this imperative. The ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists suite of products, SIL 3-rated components and self-diagnostics will ensure high availability of the mine hoist while providing the highest level of safety. These products are ready-made safety solutions, which are exhaustively tested in house, and designed for tough mine environments.”
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.