Emerson’s Sam Thiara joins our continuing podcast series, 5 questions for an Emerson Expert. Sam works with manufacturers across the process industries to improve operational performance and achieve top quartile performance.
We’ll have an in-depth podcast in the coming weeks with Sam’s perspectives on how the Operational Certainty consultants on how they work with process manufacturers to achieve and sustain improved performance in safety, energy & emissions, production, and reliability.
Jim: Hi everybody. This is Jim Cahill, and welcome to another edition of the Emerson Automation Solutions podcast series. Today I’m joined by Sam Thiara and he’s a business development manager for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa as part of the Operational Certainty Consulting Group, and Sam’s specialty is in energy management. Welcome to the podcast, Sam.
Sam: Good morning, Jim. Welcome to you too.
Jim: Well, thank you very much. Can you give us a little bit of your background and kind of how you got into this Operational Certainty consulting?
Sam: Well, it all started when I was about 14 and 15 getting into electronics. It was a hobby of mine and buying experimental electronic equipment back in the early days of, I guess you can call it Radio Shack. We had a store chain called Tandy. And I just progressed into electronics into automation systems and into information systems and I focused on, if you like, technology and advanced applications for about 25 to 30 years and the various different application areas.
And energy was something I was interested in going back into the early ’80s when we applied variables controls to phantom mixer controls. So, fan control, motor control, applications, and then it just sort of expanded to more energy management across the site and then as technology evolves, you then look at the application of energy management principles and practices to moving somebody from a very reactive to a proactive environment.
Jim: Well, that’s a fascinating path because mine is somewhat similar starting with 150-in-one electronics kit from there to becoming an electrical engineer down the road. That’s interesting to have those similarities. I guess when it comes to energy management, what are some common concerns you hear from the manufacturers and producers around it?
Sam: The biggest or the most significant feedback that we’ve received has been in customers actually have lost revenue because the incident of energy overconsumption in whatever process it is, it’s only analyzed after the fact. That’s one of the reasons we look at moving the client from reactive to a very proactive environment so they can capture any losses and identify any areas of waste as soon as they occur or even before they could possibly occur.
Jim: That’s interesting that you kind of know you wasted it after the fact when you really can’t do anything about it. What are some things that we can do either through our technologies or the expertise of the Operational Certainty Consultants bring?
Sam: Well, we bring probably a two-fold benefit. One is in having experienced engineers and consultants who have worked in very rigorous energy management app or the application of energy management practices and technologies into almost any industry. To support the expertise of the consultants, we also then have advanced applications that do allow you to move towards flat top quartile performance in the energy space. And, you know, recent studies have shown that you can experience anywhere between 3% and 5% improvement in earnings if you take a very proactive attitude to energy management.
Jim: And I was reading for some industries, energy consumption can be the largest part of the operational costs. Is that right for some of the industries we serve?
Sam: Oh, that’s absolutely right, Jim. You can have energy consumption anywhere between 30% to 50% depending on the industry type. If you have a site that is very mature in energy, you may not be able to get the biggest savings. But there are so many companies, so many industries that are not as we call it, top quartile performers because energy’s never been a major focus of many production plants. It is about production and throughput, and with an emphasis on reducing emissions and reducing operating costs and having global competition, it’s become a strategic imperative to many companies to look at energy management as part of a bigger sustainability program.
Jim: Yeah, that sounds like if we can get a couple extra percent savings there, that really goes right to the bottom line. Can you share any recent examples of engagements that you or the team has had?
Sam: Yes. We’ve had a number of engagements in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and, you know, notwithstanding the work that’s been done in North America and elsewhere. What we’ve found is that the single biggest opportunity is taking a holistic view of an entire process or an entire plant as opposed to maybe just one part of it. And Emerson’s approach to energy management information systems gives that energy management, energy engineers and operations people a sitewide holistic view in real time of energy as it’s being used and applying financial controls so that you can actually measure the performance of energy.
And we’ve done that at petrochemical sites. We’ve had applications in pulp and paper mills, in tobacco manufacturing plants. And one of the earlier areas of savings has been on electrical monitoring in looking at the electrical power consumption of heavy rotating equipment such as motors, compressors and, you know, big ID fans on boilers and things like that. To the amount of energy that we’d use in the conversion process at the power plant of the conversion of fuels to steam and power and there are significant opportunities there.
We’ve applied energy management to distribution systems. You look at the measurement of water, gas, electric power and steam across a facility such as using steam traps to capture reliability issues on pipes, you know, giving you significant amount of reduction in energy reductions and emissions and improvements in reliability. We have successes across the board in petrochemicals, in food and beverage, in pulp and paper. It’s very diverse applications.
Jim: Yeah, it sounds like that holistic approach of not just looking at a single unit or something like that, that there’s opportunities that can be gained from across to really drive some of those costs savings. For anyone that comes upon our podcast here, how would they go about engaging with the Operational Certainty consulting team?
Jim: That sounds easy enough to me. So there you have it. If you suspect that your place or if you’re finding out after the fact that you weren’t as optimum in your use of energy and maybe emissions, Google, find the team and get engaged there. Well Sam, thank you so much for your time.
Sam: Thank you, Jim.
End of Transcript
Actually, we snuck a 6th question into the podcast as an added bonus. Visit the Operational Certainty section of Emerson.com for more and connect & interact with other operational improvement experts in the Services group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.