In the last five years, simulation technologies have been a critical tool used to drive digital transformation of automated processes. In simulated environments, organizations can provide comprehensive training for personnel and test new control configurations without the safety and production risks of accessing real-world equipment.
Many organizations are also turning to collaborative engineering tools to leverage the knowledge and skillsets of experts around the globe. As plants create, tune, and refine processes to improve performance and efficiency, they can use these tools to make the most of the personnel they have available.
Emerson’s Lifecycle Services team noticed, however, that small and mid-sized organizations have typically had limited access to the simulation and engineering technologies driving safety and performance changes. I recently sat down with Chris Radebaugh, Lifecycle Services program manager, to discuss the strategy for changing that dynamic with a new offering—DeltaV™ Simulation Cloud.
Todd: Thank you for meeting with me, Chris. I know your team is passionate about bringing engineering and simulation tools to operators who typically have not had access, but before we get into the how, can you tell me a little bit about why you think these technologies are so important?
Chris: Absolutely. The key benefit of simulation is that it provides an accurate recreation of a running process that can be controlled or modified with significantly reduced risk when compared to its online counterpart. Using DeltaV Simulate and Mimic simulation software, trainers can create scenarios, both common and uncommon, where operators need to react in real time to abnormal situations. The interface they use looks exactly like the interface they will be working with in the real world, and, more importantly, the commands they execute will resonate across the simulated process just as they would in the real world. Trainees see not only what is right and wrong, but also the consequences of any actions they take.
Todd: And this is the case for creating and testing new control configurations as well, right?
Chris: Exactly. To develop the best control strategies, organizations need to take advantage of their best engineers, no matter where in the world they may be. With collaborative cloud engineering tools, multiple users can contribute from anywhere at any time to develop the best strategies possible.
Moreover, seeing how interactions with the control system impact other elements of the process down the line are essential to collaborative engineering and testing. Simulation closes that gap. If turning down the pressure on a valve also drops pressure down the line—maybe causing pump cavitation—the simulation can identify that potentiality as a result of the operator action and make them aware. And all of this happens in a simulated environment, so that pump cavitation and the associated performance implications never impact real production. Teams can help ensure any changes they make are always beneficial.
Todd: But this technology has existed for a long time now in an on-prem format. Why the need for a cloud version?
Chris: We’ve learned from our user enhancement program that customers want secure, global connectivity to engineering tools and simulation technology without the overhead of on-prem equipment and its associated maintenance. Many small to medium organizations simply don’t have the resources—personnel or otherwise—to support the technology required for an on-prem simulation, especially one that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The hardware, maintenance, security, and licensing are both complex and time consuming.
Those same organizations also struggle to maintain enough experienced personnel at each site to ensure the best possible engineering, especially when key personnel are scattered across many locations. DeltaV Simulation Cloud offers a subscription service that removes the need for teams to manage their own simulation architecture and engineering platform. The necessary technology is hosted in the cloud, and users can connect to it from anywhere via a web browser.
Todd: So, your team handles all the setup and licensing?
Chris: We do. And even more importantly, we handle all the maintenance and patching, and we work closely with customers to align their upgrade strategy and schedule so that their cloud system is consistent with their offline engineering and/or simulation needs. DeltaV Simulation Cloud is hosted and operated at Emerson data centers, so the systems are protected using the highest cybersecurity standards set by Emerson experts and executed by Emerson personnel. Moreover, DeltaV Simulation Cloud also includes Emerson’s Guardian Support across the duration of an organization’s subscription, so they have easy access to support right from Emerson.
Todd: The cloud-hosted environment seems like it would be ideal for collaboration as well.
Chris: It really is. Imagine one of your critical engineers is in a remote location but needs to collaborate on a configuration or simulation change, and, at the same time, they also need to train operators located across the globe. As long as that engineer can get to a web browser, DeltaV Simulation Cloud is equipped to handle both scenarios. .
Todd: Chris, where can our readers go to learn more about DeltaV Simulation Cloud?
Chris: A great place to start is Emerson.com/deltavsimulationcloud. That will take you to our webpage where you can learn more about cloud-hosted simulation and its benefits. You can also reach out to your local Emerson representative for more information.
Todd: I also know you’re on LinkedIn, Chris, so I will provide a link where people who are interested can find you with more questions.
Chris: That would be great. Thank you.
Todd: It has been a pleasure talking to you, Chris. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on simulation and the cloud with us.
Chris: My pleasure.