As an Operational Certainty consultant, he shares some of the oil & gas applications for operational improvements and describes how he works with clients to improve overall performance and sustain it over time.
Jim: Hi, this is Jim Cahill with another edition of “FIRSTHAND: Operational Certainty in a Pod.” Today I’m joined by Sudhir Jain. You may have heard our earlier “5 Questions for an Emerson Expert” podcast with Sudhir. Today we’ll explore how he works with clients to improve business performance in their production and manufacturing operations. But first, some background. Sudhir is a process automation and digital transformation specialist on our Operational Certainty Consulting team. And he works with clients in the oil and gas refining, petrochemicals and chemicals and life science industries. He has over 35 years of process automation experience and has been with Emerson for over 20 years. He has a Bachelor of Engineering degree in instrumentation and control engineering and an MBA. Welcome, Sudhir.
Sudhir: Thank you, Jim.
Jim: All right. Well, let’s start out, how do you typically first get engaged with our customers in solving their operational challenges?
Sudhir: We do go to various trade shows. And, you know, we have our application suites on the web, as well as we have the field salesforce, like our Impact Partners and our account directors. So, whenever they hear about the applications or solutions which we can provide at operational certainty consulting, they basically contact us to meet with the customer or to talk to the customer.
Jim: So, once you’ve gone through the introductions, how do the projects typically begin?
Sudhir: Well, once our salesforce finds the opportunity for the applications which we do, they connect us with the customer. And we either meet on the WebEx meeting or face to face, and during face-to-face or any other discussions, we find out what are the customer objectives for the application he’s looking for, because most of the time in oil and gas upstream as well as downstream, which is my focus right now, we see that there is a little difference of the process workflow which they have. And that’s where we find out what are their objectives, can we meet their objectives, and if we can, then address them during the meeting to engage him more deeply.
Jim: What are some of these applications that you help them with?
Sudhir: Today, the upstream applications are common, whether it’s conventional or unconventional. But in North America our focus is more on unconventionals, because that’s what is more engaging nowadays. Most of the unconventional fields, since they are fracking, we find that they have to use an artificial lift whichever way they want to. So, we provide the solution for artificial lift optimization, for example, gas lift optimization. In our applications, we have some of the good experience in dynamic lift optimization which can use either gas or the ESPs [electric submersible pumps] or beam pumps, whatever customer is using.
Jim: Okay. And when you work with them, I guess a lot of times you’re bringing in some new technologies that might not be familiar with them. How do you familiarize them with new technologies you might be introducing in a solution?
Sudhir: Yeah. Well, most of the time, customer expect us to talk about systems and control systems. But the applications which we are talking are more of software solutions, and these are not product. These are customized to the customer requirement but have a standard implementation process. So, we have created some of the simulated demos. What we find is after the initial introduction on the PowerPoints to tell them how this technology works, how the communication or data flow is there, we like to show them the demo so that they can see one-to-one correspondence to their application, how it will be implemented, and how the visualization or dashboard looks like, how it can help their operators and production engineers.
Jim: So, once, I guess, they see that and have a good feeling for how it looks like, how do these projects typically kick off?
Sudhir: Well, once the customer sees that this application is going to help them or increase some of their production outputs, they contact us based on what they have in mind, which means sometimes they ask us to give a proof of concept or a pilot. And if we have already done the pilots and we give that reference, then they basically ask us to give a proposal. And once we get an order, we have a survey of the facility. And at the same time, we have an implementation plan and the schedule in which we will do the job.
Jim: Okay. So, once you’re there, you get the project, you start the project. As you get towards the backend, how is success measured for a project?
Sudhir: In fact, what we do is in our proposal, we always include that we are asking for the feedback or the data after the project is successfully implemented. Mostly in these projects, the responsibilities are divided. And those are also up front stated in the proposal, and they have to agree upon. So, once the project is complete, since we have worked together, actually relationship is really good. And we do get the data time to time during our implementation process. But finally, once they operate for, say, a month or two, they send us the data and we calculate the ROI. In fact, before even we calculate the ROI, they calculate the ROI and share with us.
Jim: Yeah. And that definitely they want to promote the ROI success they have with their own management teams and everything else…
Sudhir: Absolutely. They want to sell to their management that what a good job they have done and increased their output by 4% to 14% depending on where we are operating.
Jim: That’s great. Once those initial results are achieved, how do they sustain them over time?
Sudhir: We always ask them every quarterly data, reason being, it’s not very difficult to analyze. Now, these are very simple processes, because the way it is designed and the way we have our dashboards there, but every three months, we also want to see there’s a consistency in the operational efficiencies, whether they have improved, if they have gone down, did they shut down somewhere else or something else is happening. So, they always give us the regular feedback, at least first year, just to make sure that the process workflow is working, all the operators are happy with it, so that we can do more with them.
Jim: Without naming customer names or anything, can you share some generic examples of some successful projects?
Sudhir: Well, recently, we finished a project on dynamic lift optimization with one of the major IOC [International Oil Company]. And as I said, they shared the results. They were pretty happy the way it was going. And this was in a conventional field, in fact, and now they’re big time in unconventional, and they told us that, you know, we would like to get this done in the unconventional. So, that’s an opportunity which came just because we did the project. Apart from that, our group does a lot of reliability-based solutions. And we do some downstream, you know, applications, and those are also discussed, I guess. Like we say, once you get trusted, they try to see what else we can do in their plans.
Jim: Yeah. I guess if you get good solid ROI on one project, then you start looking for other opportunities there to apply that more broadly.
Sudhir: That is correct.
Jim: And let’s wrap up with, you know, we have our big Emerson Exchange conference, both here in the U.S. in the fall, I guess, end of September this year in Nashville, and also for Europe, which will be in Milan, Italy next spring. So, how does that work or how do you engage with our customers to be able to have them share some of their successes with other customers at these Emerson Exchange events?
Sudhir: I think the Emerson Exchange is pretty popular with our customers. Most of the time, they already participate, so they understand the importance of it. And once we see the project is successful, we actually request them to participate, present a paper. We share the data with them, and if they need help, we also support to provide data for their presentations, so they can share. And we have seen that in the last seven years, a number of customers presented the results, which is more effective than us presenting the results.
Jim: Yeah, and that’s something that, you know, other customers like to hear from other customers, their successes, not necessarily from Emerson people telling some of these successes. And I guess the really good deal in all that, too, if they’re willing to do that, then their conference fees get waived for doing that, so…
Sudhir: That’s how we encourage them.
Jim: Yes. That’s a great deal there. Well, Sudhir, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing some of your insights with these projects.
Sudhir: Thanks, Jim.
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