In a CERAWeek 2019 Voices of Innovation one-on-one session, IHS Markit’s Atul Arya interviewed Emerson’s Lal Karsanbhai. Lal highlighted the current wave going on in capital projects across the globe in the manufacturing and process industries.
When asked about the business case for innovation, Lal noted that automation can increase value in four key areas—safety, reliability, production, and energy & emissions. Even more that the controls in place over the past many years, additional sensing technologies and analytics to address these key areas.
For energy producers, Lal highlighted three personas in digital transformation efforts: “big bangers” who want to drive transformation efforts top down, dabblers who looks for improvements from point solutions, and ones who identify areas for success, get early wins, and scale up more transformative efforts.
The pace of scalability of transformation efforts is what businesses are wrestling with right now. From a technology standpoint, capital project execution has been transformed with simulations, cloud-based collaborative engineering and technologies for more easily addressing late project changes. Time and costs are being eliminated from the traditional approaches.
Sensor technologies have advanced beyond traditional pressure, temperature, flow and level measurements. Measurements for acoustic signatures, corrosion, vibration, and more are now available that can be used to improve safety, reliability, production, and energy & emissions.
Lal explained how research & development is performed in 5 Emerson businesses—measurements, final control, systems & software, flow measurements, and discrete & industrial solutions. New technologies and common, human-centered design approaches are shared across businesses for more integrated solutions.
Additional sensing and analytics have enabled more predictive maintenance to spot abnormal conditions before they occur so that they can be addressed and prevented from occurring.
Looking globally, the energy industries are strongest now in the U.S. with the Permian Basin region. Latin America in Argentinean shale is robust. The Middle East continues to be robust as well as India and China.
Lal noted the biggest change when he returned to the automation business within Emerson in 2016, was that in his visits with customers, the IT group was represented in decisions. Prior to that, the Operations Technology (OT) groups were in the meetings. Much of this is due to wireless sensors and the network-based architectures of the control systems and the information flows to the corporate networks.
Lal highlighted the deep expertise in industry and application knowledge within Emerson. These experts collaborate with energy producers and manufacturers on capital projects and ongoing operations. He shared an example where Emerson provided connected services to monitor steam traps to improve energy efficiency. The savings in energy more than paid for the monthly services.
As technology replaces some traditional jobs, upskilling is required to address these changes. Overall, the industries are losing expertise and technology must help to fill in some of the gaps.
On the question of data, there is too much data. What’s different now is the power of analytics software to recognize patterns to inform decisions to be made. With cloud-based applications these analytics can be shared among subject matter experts to help arrive at the correct decisions in a timely manner.