One of the many problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has been the even greater stress it has put on process manufacturing companies related to personnel. When things started shutting down in March last year, many companies were already struggling to maintain adequate plant staffing, and the pandemic made things worse.
When we talk to customers and prospects, the situation has made the case for automating manual procedures all the more compelling. The idea of using automated solutions like Emerson’s AMS Asset Monitor makes more sense than ever when there are even fewer people in the plant. But as we talk to these companies, we make the point that it is critical to look beyond the pandemic. That is a key point of my article in the January issue of Processing.
Many plants begin their remote monitoring implementation with a bottom-up approach so they can solve the most problems in the shortest time to get a quick ROI. This makes sense for the immediate situation, but any such efforts should be made with the bigger, top-down picture in mind.
Remote monitoring is about access to data. While plants want to quickly deliver data across the operational technology environment, securely pushing data to the enterprise level allows assessment of how plant reliability impacts total production across the organization. Higher-level data mobility requires a top-down approach to remote monitoring design to push plant data into enterprise systems and data lakes for high-level analysis.
Fortunately, it’s not an either-or, all-or-nothing choice of approach.
A difference in deployment approach does not need to be a barrier to operational excellence. By choosing scalable solutions designed to be integrated into a holistic remote monitoring system, organizations can circumvent the need to choose a top-down or bottom-up solution for the entire organization. Instead, they can design remote solutions that meet in the middle to provide the plant-level visibility they need today while preparing for the enterprise-wide visibility and analytics required to drive better business decisions tomorrow.
It is possible to design a system to solve the immediate problems, but with the scalability needed to provide enterprise-wide capabilities. One key element of this approach is the use of Emerson’s Plantweb Optics Augmented Reality, which overlays digital information on the physical world for increased productivity, safety, and insight. This digital experience is transforming the way workers accomplish complex tasks by giving them critical information as they perform operations and maintenance tasks.
One industrial manufacturer experiencing a personnel shortage needed its small group of experts to serve multiple sites. Standalone solutions sped analysis to some degree, but experts spent too much time traveling, limiting their ability to quickly resolve issues. The organization is now implementing AR technologies powered by an IIoT platform and connected to standalone solutions to enable remote assistance for field operators and technicians.
It’s critical to get the most effectiveness from the people you do have, and giving your experts the ability to cover more than one site stretches resources. You can implement this capability today, and it will serve your needs going forward.
Visit the Asset Management pages at Emerson.com for more on technologies and solutions for digital transformation. You can also connect and interact with other engineers in the Oil & Gas, Refining, and Chemical Groups at the Emerson Exchange 365 community.