Gas Analysis Solutions Center to Help Plants Meet Sustainability Goals

As surely as security has been a significant 2022 trend, so also has sustainability. Since early June, I’ve been in several conversations regarding work technology firms are accomplishing in this arena. I’ve talked in the past about Emerson and hydrogen. This Emerson news concerns sensing technologies for emissions monitoring.

New Scotland-based center will develop and provide training for next-generation gas sensing technologies used for emissions monitoring, process control and safety.

For those interested in what we can do on a personal level about this important work, check out the work of hundreds of volunteers of The Carbon Almanac. 

Emerson announced August 29, 2022 the opening of a facility in Cumbernauld, Scotland, equipped with engineering, development and manufacturing resources for sensor, mechanical, electronics and software design for the company’s gas analysis portfolio. Spurred by demand to reduce the environmental impact of industrial process facilities, the new gas analysis solutions center will produce more than 10 different sensing technologies that can measure more than 60 different gas components, delivering on Emerson’s commitment to supporting customers’ decarbonization efforts.

As a global hub for the production and distribution of gas sensing technologies, the 62,000-square-foot facility will engineer and manufacture Emerson’s Rosemount continuous gas analyzers and gas chromatographs, which are used to improve emissions monitoring, plant safety, quality control and operational efficiency. These tools are critical to helping process plants meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations and ensuring process control in hydrogen, biofuel, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and aerosol manufacturing, as well as reducing waste and scrappage to foster sustainability.

The center includes a training space and offers training options for customers, including classroom, onsite and web-based courses, giving Emerson greater ability to demonstrate how the latest gas analysis technologies can help customers run their operations reliably, safely and efficiently. It is certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and complements Emerson’s global network of facilities certified by ISO standards for quality, occupational health and safety, and environmental management systems.

The facility is also equipped with a gas extraction system, an environmental chamber and an external gas storage to facilitate gas analyzer testing and application research and development. Combined with calibration capabilities, a dedicated area for performing factory acceptance testing, and a customer collaboration space, these capabilities will help assure product performance and integrity and streamline the customer experience.

Not All Tech is in Silicon Valley

Riffing on Benedict Evans’ latest podcast called Another Podcast. He is a long time technology analyst whom I’ve followed for perhaps 20 years.

He was at an upscale restaurant in Italy recently and noticed the lights on the table. Not traditional candles, these were LED lights, with a battery and USB port for charging. 

LEDs are now everywhere. Not long ago, LED screens were prohibitively expensive. Lights were rare. This isn’t a Silicon Valley phenomenon. People who make interior decorative lighting saw the possibility, hired an engineer or two, and developed the product. They had the channel to market and relationships with customers.

Some 40 years ago while I was Quality Manager at a manufacturing plant for juvenile furniture, the general manager had a vision of lights (LED would have been perfect) on a high chair tray. There would be several. Perhaps they illuminated randomly and the child could slap at them. Maybe turn them on and off. We could have hired an electronics engineer (or I could have switched roles?) and done that back then.

It wouldn’t have taken Silicon Valley. 

Think also of the company who makes Tasers. It has relationships with almost all police organizations. They thought about products. Noticed they could combine small cameras that were now ubiquitous packaged with networking, audio, rugged packaging, and sell body cameras to those same police customers.

I’ve had jobs like that in my career where I scanned the environment for ideas from other places that we could use in our market.

We have had process and manufacturing engineers in our industry for years who absorbed technology in order to solve a problem. We needed “Silicon Valley” perhaps to design and manufacture components and provide foundational software. I’ve known many chemical engineers who became also computer engineers who then became also networking engineers all in order to solve process problems.

Yet, media reports would have us thinking that it’s all about Silicon Valley. It’s not.

So often it is not about the technology. It’s all about the problem we’re trying to solve.

Remember the Customer

Om Malik’s writing has inspired and influenced me for decades. He’s a thoughtful observer of the technology scene and a good photographer. He recently posted a piece about Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the new Meta–his replacement for Facebook when it finally fades. After quoting from Zuckerberg’s talk about where Meta is going, Om points out that it’s all about what Meta can get from its customers. Nothing about serving customers and society.

During this morning’s workout, my podcast picked up Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast. His theme began with a story from a management meeting at Chick-fil-A many years ago. A new restaurant chain had popped onto the radar. Executives viewed it as a threat. The discussion centered on growth. Like a race, they wanted to grow faster than the opponent.

Founder and chairman Truett Cathy pounded on the table to obtain attention. The room quieted. He looked around the room and said, “First, we work on improving quality. If we are always improving quality, then our customers will tell us to grow.”

Two polar opposite views of the market.

Do customers serve us? Do we serve customers?

I am weaning off Facebook. It truly is evil making money by trying to entice us toward posting ever more extreme (and stupid) stuff to capture attention. I have never been in a Chick-fil-A. That’s because I don’t eat chicken. But if I did, I’d patronize the place that is trying its best to serve me. I’d shun the place that is cynically using me to make more billions.

Now–you are going to glance at this brief essay and return to work. What are you going to do? Figure out how to improve quality in order to better serve customers? I hope you choose wisely.

Organization Addresses Critical Gaps in Securing Industrial Infrastructure

Cybersecurity continues its strong flow through my news feed. This interesting piece concerns Dragos launching a resource to help industrial asset owners and operators build their OT cybersecurity programs.

Dragos announced the launch of its new Dragos OT-CERT (Operational Technology – Cyber Emergency Readiness Team), a cybersecurity resource designed for industrial asset owners and operators to help them build their OT cybersecurity programs, improve their security postures, and reduce OT risk.

Delivered via the OT-CERT portal, member organizations will have free access to OT cybersecurity best practices, cybersecurity maturity assessments, training, workshops, tabletop exercises, webinars, and more. In addition, OT-CERT will coordinate with OEMs regarding disclosures for vulnerabilities discovered by Dragos threat intelligence researchers, as well as cyber threats detected by Dragos targeted at the OEMs’ products. OEM partnerships are critical to coordinated vulnerability disclosures and effective threat response to protect and support industrial infrastructure in the escalating cyber threat environment.

Dragos OT-CERT addresses a serious gap in securing industrial infrastructure: the lack of OT-specific resources readily available to the industrial infrastructure community. The gap is especially critical among small and medium sized businesses that often have limited expertise and resources to address ICS/OT cybersecurity risks. According to Gartner, “Organizations continue to face acute and growing shortages of OT security skills to foster and support IT/OT integration, and securely support digital transformation efforts.”

Want to join?

Organizations of all sizes are eligible for OT-CERT membership. Larger organizations will benefit from free resources such as OT best-practices blogs and OT vulnerability disclosures from Dragos’s industry-leading Threat Intelligence team. Dragos OT-CERT will also aid large companies by helping to improve the security posture of smaller organizations in their supply chain that can pose a risk to their business operations.

In launching this new resource, Dragos partnered with the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 14,000 manufacturing companies in every industrial sector and supports them through a focus on both cyber threat identification and proactive security practices that are critical to making the entire supply chain more secure.

Initial Dragos OT-CERT partners include the National Association of Manufacturers, Emerson, Rockwell Automation, and four Information Sharing and Analysis Centers: E-ISAC (electricity), ONG-ISAC (oil and natural gas), DNG-ISAC (downstream natural gas), and WaterISAC.

5G Marketing Failures

5G has potential for industrial and manufacturing applications, but when have we heard that much about it? Analyst firm Global Data’s recent study says mobile operators are failing to come up with a strong marketing story.

The study by GlobalData Technology, which involved a July 2022 audit of around 30  standalone 5G  commercial deployments worldwide, concluded that although operators are keen to flag the adoption of standalone 5G in general marketing messages—largely focusing on the improved network quality and capabilities for enterprises—the number of standalone 5G references within consumer 5G service portfolios are few and far between.

Emma Mohr-McClune, Service Director at GlobalData, comments: “The lack of effective standalone 5G promotion is a real problem for the future of 5G monetization. Standalone 5G will be a vital requirement for a lot of the more exciting 5G use cases, from autonomous devices to commercial augmented and virtual reality.”

Mohr-McClune continues: “The few exceptional cases—in Singapore, but also in Germany and elsewhere—make for fascinating study. In the future, we could see more operators position standalone 5G as greener, safer, and more reliable than future generations of wireless technology, but the current industry is still waiting for signature use cases to give the upgrade meaning to consumers. In the meantime, we believe that most operators will focus on marketing the technology to the business sector, where there are more immediate and distinctive use cases emerging.

“In the Enterprise sector, it’s an entirely different story. Standalone 5G enables enterprises to set up their own, closed Private 5G networks, to better manage connectivity in ultra-connected working set-ups, such as ports and mines–or even ‘slice’ the network for prioritized levels of service for mission-critical operations. The benefits, use cases, and return on investment (ROI) are far clearer. However, in selling standalone 5G to consumers, operators are going to have to make sure they don’t repeat the same promises they spun out for non-standalone 5G, or risk appearing to contradict themselves.”

NI Corporate Impact Report

The first NI Week in Austin, TX I attended was 1998. I hit every year until maybe 2015. The clear vision of leadership around building a company with solid ethics and focus on having a positive impact on the world impressed me from the very beginning.

The company has grown from that startup scrappiness I first witnessed to the corporation it is today, yet the vision persists through the third generation of leaders.

Recently I interviewed Tabitha Upshaw, senior director of Brand, Reputation and Impact to learn more about the results reported in the 2021 Corporate Impact report just announced about a month ago. She emphasized the Three Pillars of the program: Changing the Faces of Engineering, Building an Equitable and Thriving Society, and Engineering a Healthy Planet. These were created to reflect where the company can have the greatest influence and impact as a test and measurement engineering leader.

Some of the results noted in the report include:

  • The launch of a rigorous grant-making process with $2.7 million in grants to nine nonprofit partners who are advancing diversity in STEM education, including the Girls in Engineering and Technology program in Malaysia and the Women at Tech program in Hungary.
  • Improved equity in base pay across NI, with ratios of 99% for women to men (global), 101% for people of color to white (U.S.), 100% for Black to white (U.S.) and 101% for Latinx to white (U.S.).
  • 35.5% of electricity sourced from renewables, plus 113,542 square feet of new buildings and remodels designed to LEED/WELL standards.

A particular point of pride according to Upshaw came from tracking pay equity goals and reporting that the company was beating these goals handily.

The company has placed dollars, executive time, and other emphases on STEM education at all levels of schooling as long as I’ve known it.

The report also puts forth a new goal: By 2030, NI will become a climate-neutral company with an ongoing commitment to protecting biodiversity. The company’s ambition is to operate in a way that produces no net greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2).

“We are living through a period of rapid evolution. We see it with our customers who are accelerating the digital transformation of our world, and we see it in our society and across our planet,” said Eric Starkloff, CEO of NI. “Our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy reflects our desire to be a driver of positive change.”

One of NI’s key drivers of positive transformation in 2021 was its announcement of $2.7 million in grants to STEM education initiatives that advance diversity in STEM education globally. The company formed nine new partnerships with nonprofits to bring hands-on programs and mentoring to girls and women, people of color and economically disadvantaged populations.

“We’ve had to put in extra effort to keep Corporate Impact top of mind in the face of macro challenges such as the pandemic, supply chain disruption, and our transformation as a company,” concluded Upshaw. “And I’m so proud of what we’ve worked together across the company to achieve this year.”