Guarding Against Information Overload

by | Apr 14, 2006 | Services, Consulting & Training

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

Process manufacturing professionals, like those in many industries, live increasingly in information overload. The situation is exacerbated by the expectation of doing more often with fewer resources, especially in world areas like North America and Western Europe with their well established markets.
Automation professionals charged with the responsibilities of maintaining and modernizing their automation systems must keep pace with ongoing changes in the operating systems, automation software, and device drivers, not to mention any operating system security updates and patches. These responsibilities have grown as newer systems have been built on commercially available technologies like Ethernet, Windows operating systems, and open, interoperable communications standards specific to process manufacturers like OPC, HART, Foundation fieldbus, etc.
We received a clear message from our DeltaV system customers around the globe that it was very difficult to keep up with all the changes and sort out what was applicable to them, given their current versions of hardware and software.
To meet this need for more focused, relevant information particular to their systems, our SureService team created Guardian Support, which links the system administrators to the DeltaV experts at Emerson and to the extended community of system administrators throughout the company’s global enterprise.
I spoke with Randy Pratt, a Product Engineering Application Specialist on our SureService support team. Randy is another one of the veterans around here, well known by many Emerson customers. I like the team’s guiding motto that Randy shared with me, “We make the system you’ve got even better.”
Guardian basically collects and provides a snapshot of all the version information in a DeltaV system, from the operating systems in the workstations, controllers, and I/O devices.
It filters the information system administrators receive to just what they have in their system, so that the information is focused and relevant. This information may include operating system security updates, patches, knowledge base articles, hardware warranty information, and more.
Randy added that the flip side of the coin is that Emerson support experts have access to this same information to rapidly solve any issues that may arise over the life of the system. This can save quite a bit of time when working through an issue by knowing all the versions without having ask, or dig around for it.
It also helps the system administrators better plan lifecycle issues associated with the underlying technologies. Commercially available technologies rapidly evolve. A recent example is the parallel port we’ve known and loved on our PCs have been going away as USB ports take over. The more advance notice that Guardian Support can provide, the better these changes can be planned and scheduled.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.