Emerson’s Brian Joe and Ben Skal presented on Plantweb technologies and how they help facilitate digital transformation initiatives. Brian opened noting that process control is all based on the See-Decide-Act closed-loop model. Typically it is an open-loop process for managing reliability, safety and energy efficiency.
By closing the loop improvements can be made in these areas to improve operational performance. One of the biggest opportunities is in the area of reliability improvements. Taking a comprehensive approach can result in 15% EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) financial improvements.
Brian highlighted a study that most maintenance costs are around fired equipment, vessels, piping, heat exchangers, compressors, pumps and valves. Focusing on closed-loop solutions in these areas can drive maintenance cost reductions. Traditional maintenance is still largely based on waiting for things to fail and fixing them. By switching to a See-Decide-Act model, conditions leading to failures can be detected early and actions taken to avoid these failure conditions.
In the traditional maintenance approach, data around the assets is collected manually, calculations are performed offline in spreadsheets, and maintenance is done on a reactive or scheduled basis. In a digitally-transformed approach, pervasive sensing around the assets continuously collects the data, online analytics determines if these assets are operating in a normal range or entering an abnormal range, and abnormalities are flagged and communicated to the personnel who can act to resolve the abnormality.
Brian described Plantweb Insight that currently has 9 applications with a roadmap to have 45. These provide very specific operational analytics to provide actionable information. Plantweb Optics routes this actionable information to the person or people with the experience and authority to take the action to resolve the situation.
Ben described how data comes from many places including the control system, asset management systems, analytics software, machinery health systems, wireless devices, and other types of data from plant assets. The goal of Plantweb Optics is to aggregate all this asset related information and provide targeted communications to the individuals and teams to act.
Ben also shared how augmented reality can play a role to overlay how assets are performing whether OK or in need of further investigation. Although this technology is fairly new, the promise to provide visualize to the health of the assets while in the field shows tremendous promise. Location awareness is a key advantage to help identify where the asset is located. The other key advantage is live remote assistance where the person at the asset can connect with an expert to work through the fix procedure.
He also shared how historical data is included in Plantweb Optics to support the decision-making process. Trends help show how the health of the asset has changed over time. With connections to CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) software, work orders can be automatically generated to shorten the cycle from problem identification to problem resolution.
Working to close the loop around work practices associated with safety, reliability and energy management can result in significant business performance improvements.