In a Perspektive Prozessindustrie article, Für iOps-Projekte gibt es keine fertige Spezifikation (pp 16-17), Emerson’s Andreas Fuchs and Ernst Jäger describe the first steps toward integrated operations (iOps). Here is a translation of their interview.
Mister Fuchs, does integrated operations basically stand for your previous consulting achievements, packed under a catchy name?Fuchs: As a matter of fact, Emerson Process Management has indeed expanded drastically in the field of consulting. iOps just recently got added to this, for further support on the way towards operational excellence. The usage of newest technologies, such as web functionalities and video conferences, opens a lot of new possibilities. He who focuses too much on running systems, does not have time to check everything. Consultants can help to point out what supports the systems operations towards operational excellence: towards safety, availability, product quality and efficiency. Also with iOps consulting can be a significant part, especially to decide if the usage makes sense.
Which aspects are important?
Fuchs: One indicator for example is the location and task distribution. If there is a central institution with several locations for certain professional skills, iOps usually manages to bring remarkable improvements.
How would the first step in iOps in detail look like?
Fuchs: iOps could be used through telephone conferences between people involved in processes, for example the system operator in the Middle East , the specialist of a pumping producer and the decision maker in the headquarter that you could deliver the same data basis about the current status of the plant. Like that, everybody can use the expert’s knowledge.
That means, iOps is a platform to simplify the exchange?Jäger: It is way more than that. As a concept it includes the way to operational excellence.
Fuchs: What part of HR is essential for the process of the plant? How many people for maintenance and surveillance are necessary and how much can be covered by a technician? That can be achieved through diagnostic data, that everybody can be accessed 24/7 though mobile devices. With the increasing use of digital media, these work spaces can be much more interesting for the head-down generation.
Which strategy do you recommend for companies to introduce in their companies? How big should the project team at the client be?
Fuchs: In an iOps project the client does not have, in contrast to a process automation project, a prefixed budget because there is no experience with it. The project team would create a concept and then has to sell it internally by proving the suitable return of investment. Finally the head of finance has to plan the budget, such a project takes between one and two years. With all this, it has to be considered to include all the departments that are involved, generally represented by 5 to 10 employees. Everybody should bring up their wishes and problems. If desires and needs are not recognized, the risk gets higher that the whole concept doesn’t fit. In the beginning we discuss the project all together and the vision of the client for his automation process. How should it look in five years?
How does the role of the IT department look like with all this?
Jäger: IT staff can deliver infrastructure and communication ways but not the know-how that is necessary to optimize the performance of the plant procedures. In my opinion the automation is the only craft that can combine all other crafts.
A goal that was too much for many.
Jäger: I’m deeply convinced that iOps can be a milestone. We’ll bring a new philosophy into the market although we’re just at the beginning. To go new ways and to keep the pace requires a rethinking. Existing structures and common habits have to be questioned.
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