Emerson’s Kendall Beushausen follows up his 5 Questions for Operational Certainty Consultant Kendall Beushausen podcast with this in-depth FIRSTHAND: Operational Certainty in Pod podcast.
Kendall describes how the Internet of Things is all around us in our personal lives and how it is being applied in the manufacturing industries to improve business performance in many areas, especially reliability.
Jim: Hi everyone. This is Jim Cahill. And welcome to another edition of FIRSTHAND: A conversation with an operational certainty consultant. Today I’m joined by Kendall Beushausen and he’s an Operational Certainty consultant based in South Carolina. You may have heard the earlier podcast on Kendall. He has a wealth of experience both in the Navy—the United States Navy—as well as some other companies before joining Emerson 11 years ago. And he has a wealth of experience in reliability. And today we’re gonna talk a little bit about digital transformation and how that intersects with reliability. So welcome to the podcast, Kendall.
Kendall: Thanks, Jim.
Jim: All right. Let’s start out by can you tell our listeners what is the internet of things and industrial internet of things which also go by IoT and IIoT?
Kendall: Well, Jim, in the simplest form, IoT or IIoT is the idea of connected devices and, as you know, today we’re living in a world with many, many devices that are connected to the internet, so to speak. Differentiating IoT and IIoT, IIoT is specifically to the industrial world, so it’s industrial internet of things.
Jim: You often hear with that digital transformation, so how would you describe digital transformation?
Kendall: Digital transformation to me is simply what we do with these connected devices. The connected devices provide a wealth of information that make our lives easier, more convenient, etc. But what we do with that information is ultimately how our lives have changed and that also applies in the industrial world. How can this technology make our business better, easier, faster, safer?
Jim: You know, I know it’s all around us in our personal lives, even this podcast we’re doing, people can subscribe to it, have it come to them, listen through their Bluetooth in their car, it’s all in there. Can you share some examples maybe of digital transformation occurring in our personal lives?
Kendall: Absolutely. Well, you hit on the podcast as an example, but I mean, let’s talk about something as simple as the telephone. Twenty to 30 years ago, everyone had a landline in their house, and you had to run to the kitchen to answer the phone when it rang. Now we have these devices that we carry with us wherever we go, and not only can we call somebody on these phones, there’s multiple means of communication through different applications such as texting, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. These all have different levels of involvement or complexities, let’s say. But ultimately, the communications that we used to have 20, 30 years ago has significantly changed, we don’t have to wait for somebody to get home to talk to them. We can send a message to find out if they’re available to chat on the phone.
Also on this phone, let’s consider television or entertainment. When I was growing up, there were three stations, ABC, NBC, and CBS, and you can watch whatever you wanted as long as it was on their schedule. But today, we can use this same device to stream whatever show we want and as what’s common now is binge-watching. So it’s improved by entertainment world for those that are into movies and sitcoms, etc.
Another good example is our health. I have several apps on my phone that help me track my health and my wellness through different applications. Some of them are exercise applications. My scales in the bathroom actually connect to my phone, so when I stand on the scale, it automatically connects to my phone and sends my metric information to my phone and it gives me a dashboard of information about my health from my BMI to my body fat and my weight, obviously, my metabolic age, visceral fat, there’s just a wealth of information that’s provided with these connected devices. So I could monitor my health performance over the course of time. Obviously, it gives you training options as well, so I can go look and see how much weight I’ve lost over the course of a period of time, or gained.
Another example in our personal lives is I have home security cameras at my house and with my phone, anywhere I have a cell signal or wifi signal, I can look and see what’s going on at my house. It also lets me know if there’s anything abnormal going on through motion sensors. If I’m not expecting someone at the house and they walk in front of the camera, I get a notification on my phone so I can identify whether or not they’re supposed to be there. Sometimes it’s a cat, the FedEx delivery, UPS delivery. I can make sure everything is safe and sound from wherever I’m at in the world.
Another very good example, in my opinion, is access to information through YouTube. And the reason that I like YouTube because there are so many how-to videos available, you can pretty much disassemble a house and put it back together by watching YouTube videos.
Jim: Those are all some great examples, especially the YouTube because that’s a nice crossover between our personal lives and our business lives because the how-to can apply to things you’re doing in our customer’s plants and other things. So I guess switching a little bit, what are some examples in our business life?
Kendall: Well, the first one that comes to mind is our access to not only information but people. For instance, we’re doing this podcast, I’m in South Carolina and you’re in Texas and we use these similar technologies through WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, Jabber to conduct business on a very regular basis with these tools. I’m constantly in meetings with clients in Montana, Chicago, many other places, far away as in the Middle East at times with these technologies.
Getting more technical in my line of work, we’re able to use this digital transformation and connected devices to improve our equipment monitoring or even process monitoring for our clients. And really what that boils down to is we can see issues with processes and equipment much earlier than we were able to before with more specific technologies like vibration. Now we can look at not only vibration, but we can look at the process parameters, put it all together, and basically as what we call the PF curve in reliability, we’re able to identify potential failures much earlier.
Now, this also includes what we call analytics. Analytics is the statistical analysis of all of this data that many people refer to artificial intelligence or machine learning, these all kind of go hand in hand and managing all of this data because with all these connected devices in the industrial world, we have a constant stream of multiple data sources that we, as people, don’t have a capacity to process. So this new technology is allowing us to process all of that data in real-time and assess the health of our systems and our equipment and, in my world, much earlier.
Jim: That’s a really key point that you made there about the importance of analytics because this wealth of data, some people like to call it Big Data coming in, all these sensors and other things, you’re right, is completely overwhelming and having analytics kind of distill it and boil it into something is really important. Can you share an example from the reliability world how this comes together with the data and the analytics to help improve things?
Kendall: Absolutely. We’re working with a client right now in the refining business and they have had some issues with distillates column flooding and we’re applying an analytics application to several of their towers. And this analytics package allows us to look at a very large number of process parameters from pressure, temperature flow, etc. And we can use the design calculations, the mass balances, the heat balances to determine where these towers are operating and we can identify much earlier, as much as 15 days in advance, an event that could lead to column flooding, which will give the operator an opportunity to correct long before it ever becomes an issue.
Jim: Well, that sounds like an example of digital transformation where before it might’ve just had the column upset or someone would have had to walk by and notice something out of the ordinary for that to happen where now you have data and analytics working together round the clock to solve a problem. Would you consider that, you know, an example of digital transformation?
Kendall: I would, and this particular client is looking to expand this particular application throughout the company to multiple sites, and that’s where the real transformation comes. When you can find a solution, verify that it meets your needs, and then deploy it across multiple facilities, that’s where you really gain the advantage when you can apply this to…I guess you would say use orders of magnitude, so to speak, get more out of the application and you can make the transformation faster.
Jim: That sounds exactly like the advice I keep hearing, you know, pick something that has big business value and then prove it out, make it work, then scale it up or scale it across if you’ve got multiple facilities and keep building on the successes you have, that sounds like a winning approach there. For somebody that maybe their organization is talking about it, but maybe they haven’t started yet down the path of doing some of these digital transformation initiatives, how do they engage with consultants like you?
Kendall: Well, we have a roadmap process that we developed for each client. To answer your question, the first thing we would want to do is determine where they currently are and where they want to end up, what’s their goal? What’s their destination? And we do that through an assessment so that we know what their ideas are and what their intentions are very clearly. We also have the need to evaluate what technologies they currently have and what they might need or what additional monitoring they may need. Then we develop a roadmap with them to get them where they want to go.
Because let’s be honest, digital transformation is a very, very broad topic. We just discussed how digital transformation affects our personal life in the business and industrial world, we want to calculate the value that we’re getting. We don’t do anything without a return on investment, so we want to make sure that they’re going to achieve whatever their expectations are. It requires this assessment and collaboration between the consultant and the client.
Jim: So this is a bit of a crystal ball kind of question, but how do you see these whole digital transformation initiatives evolving?
Kendall: Well, right now what I see is most clients aren’t fully aware of everything that’s available to them. Once you can illustrate to them what’s possible, they really take a different look at what they’re doing. For instance, I’m working with a client now in the traditional world reliability with asset criticality ranking, and we’re getting ready to start developing a review doing the PM optimization. But they have recently been to a conference and gained a much better understanding of what’s available in the digital world and they have asked us to include the digital transformation into their reliability roadmap. Now, what that means for them may be different than what it means to another customer. This particular client wants access to all of this information remotely. Basically, they want mobility, that’s a big deal to them, and they want the information available to everyone that needs any particular piece of information.
Jim: That sounds like a path that as people really incorporate it into it because it is pretty large. It’s not just the technology, it’s the work practices that people have, and it’s kinda changing even the culture, the way things operate, so that systematic way looks really good.
Kendall: One other thing, you know, I’m talking about process-related digital transformation. This evolution is not just in engineering and process control or process-related industries. I mean business is using…the finance group is using AI and big data to evaluate their business from a finance perspective, and this isn’t just in the engineering world, it crosses all around. Look at the way Emerson’s changed their human resources in the past two years. We have everything available to us now at our fingertips. You can get to the HR, get any of the HR information that you may need regarding payroll, benefits at your fingertips, whereas 10, 15 years ago you had to go to the HR office to get that information.
Jim: That’s a really good example there. Well, this has been really enlightening. Let me just wind it up with one last question is if somebody wants to explore this further, how do they contact you or the operational consulting team to discuss the possibilities and see what they might want to do?
Jim: All right. I’ll add a link to that in there too. And I also know that you’re out there on LinkedIn. For those that are out there using LinkedIn, I encourage you to connect with Kendall, connect with me. We love to connect with people there. So Kendall, thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences and knowledge around digital transformation and IIoT. We really appreciate it.
Kendall: Thank you for having me, Jim.
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