Putting the ROI into IIoT

Emerson´s Operational Certainty Initiative and Top Performance in the Process Industries

  • Roel Van Doren, President Europe, Emerson Automation SolutionsRoel Van Doren, President Europe, Emerson Automation Solutions

Oil and gas, petrochemical, refining, life sciences and other manufacturing companies face ongoing pressures to achieve improved financial results. Enhancing the economic performance of existing production facilities can help them accomplish that goal. However, despite years of operations improvement programs, the results have been disappointing for many thus far. Dr. Volker Oestreich asked Roel Van Doren, President Europe, Emerson Automation Solutions, about Operational Certainty, Top Quartile Performance and the IIoT.

CHEManager: Over the past year, Emerson has analyzed the operational performance of industrial companies in order to identify behaviors and actions that separate Top Quartile performers – defined as achieving operations and capital performance in the top 25% of peer companies – from those in the lower tiers. What are the outcomes?

R. Van Doren: Through close cooperation with benchmarking companies and talking to our customers, we have gathered industry-wide data on the challenges companies face in core areas like safety, reliability, production and energy/emissions. Our findings show that across the global industrial sector, annually as much as $1 trillion is lost as a result of subpar performance.

This is an enormous potential for improvement. How did you react?

R. Van Doren: We have introduced Operational Certainty, a technology and engineering-based program, designed to help manufacturers reach Top Quartile performance in the four key areas mentioned above. A fundamental strand of Operational Certainty includes delivering on the promise of IIoT, the Industrial Internet of Things, and enabling companies to implement IIoT applications that can help them achieve a significant return on their investment.

What is your roadmap to help industrial companies to achieve Top Quartile performance and recover some of the operational losses you have figured?

R. Van Doren: Because of limited peer benchmarking and uncertainty over which approaches will yield the greatest improvements, many companies in the industrial sector have become stuck in decades-old work practices that fail to take advantage of available advanced digital technologies – their performance levels are suboptimal.

The key to companies setting and achieving improved performance goals is first to understand what is possible based on today’s available technologies and which levers can deliver measurable results.

Working closely with leading benchmarking companies and our customers, we have identified the most important behaviors and actions that separate Top Quartile performers from those in the lower tiers.

Can you name some typical cases?

R. Van Doren: Top Quartile performers had one-third the number of safety incidents compared to their average industry peers. They spent half as much on maintenance compared to average performers and had an increased production availability of 15 days per year. Top Quartile manufacturers spent 20% less on production-related expenses compared to average producers, and, last but not least, they spent one-third of the industry average on energy costs and had 30% less CO2 emissions.

How can companies in the process industries become Top Quartile performers?

R. Van Doren: With a desire to help our customers to achieve Top Quartile performance, we have launched Operational Certainty, a technology and engineering-based program designed to help recover that $1 trillion in operational losses.

A critical part of Operational Certainty is the use of new peer benchmarking insights to bring a better perspective on best practices and technologies to achieve Top Quartile performance in the areas of safety, reliability, production and energy management.

The path to Top Quartile performance starts with an Operational Certainty workshop. These sessions help to pinpoint the root causes of poor performance, prioritize actions that can yield the greatest improvement and establish a scalable work plan for achieving those results.

With customers hungry for new ideas and looking for proven ways to harness the power of IIoT to make technology work in measurable, meaningful ways, Operational Certainty can have a transformational impact on their performance.

What backing do you give your customers when introducing Operational Certainty?

R. Van Doren: We have also launched a new Operational Certainty consulting practice, plus expanded project execution methodologies and resources. Additionally, Emerson has announced its new Plantweb digital ecosystem to provide the technology foundation for companies to securely implement the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve measurable business performance improvements.

We know precisely what behaviors are delivering industry-leading performance and what is required for other companies to reach those levels. With our industry expertise, consulting services, comprehensive automation technologies portfolio and new IIoT solutions, we can help customers leverage the best practices and strategies of Top Quartile performers, and improve their earnings by as much as 15%.

What role does the IIoT play in Operational Certainty?

R. Van Doren: Perhaps the biggest industry technology buzz we hear today is about IIoT. Distributing data and information seamlessly via the internet makes IIoT the new frontier of manufacturing – it has even been referred to as a phenomenon that will reinvent manufacturing. Clearly IIoT is an important part of the fourth industrial revolution we find ourselves in. IIoT is pivotal to Operational Certainty because we can leverage the benefits of IIoT to help companies improve their operational performance.

IIoT applications most usually go together with applications in the cloud. What is your strategy for cloud services?

R. Van Doren: We have standardized on the cloud-based Microsoft Azure IoT Suite to enable Connected Services, expanding Plantweb to provide a secure, flexible platform for private cloud networks and third-party cloud service relationships. The Azure IoT Suite is a scalable and secure cloud application environment which offers a broad range of capabilities that help industrial manufacturers to confidently adopt IIoT. The Azure IoT hub already processes billions of messages every week, resulting in the generation of intelligent insights, enabling companies to implement the actions that will lead to significant business performance improvement.

Our partnership with Microsoft creates IIoT services that can improve customers’ overall operational performance and efficiency. Extending a more than two-decade relationship between the companies, we are also broadly adopting Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT technology, both in our DeltaV and Ovation control systems and in data gateways, for local data processing and to serve data to the Azure IoT Suite.

To power its IIoT applications, Emerson chose Microsoft for its comprehensive offerings that span both the intelligent edge, with Windows, and the intelligent cloud, with Azure. These capabilities should ultimately remove the need for in-house domain experts, as we will provide the real-time monitoring of infrastructure that manufacturers require. Both the Azure IoT Suite and Windows 10 IoT have a proven record of success in industrial applications. By integrating these Microsoft offerings, we can expand Plantweb to cloud applications that can also be delivered in a turnkey ‘connected service’ model for the entire enterprise.

The combination of our application expertise hosted on Microsoft Azure will provide a compelling suite of IIoT applications to expand digital intelligence to the entire manufacturing enterprise. These applications will be easily and quickly deployable and have immediate quantifiable business benefits for industrial manufacturers looking for better operational performance.

How will investing in IIoT applications improve operational performance?

R. Van Doren: IoT makes it possible to either empower your company’s experts with the additional information they need for decisions and action that can facilitate operational performance improvements, or for the first time to completely outsource that analysis and decision making to third party domain experts. There are four critical aspects to achieving this: the provision of rich, real-time operating data from intelligent sensing and automation technologies across the business; secure transport of that data to where it’s needed anywhere in the world; robust, scalable software to convert the data into actionable insights; and domain expertise to make the decisions and drive the outcomes that will lead to improved performance. A new business model called Connected Services has also emerged where those last two pieces are performed by a remote third party rather than in-house experts.

Is IIoT’s potential now being delivered?

R. Van Doren: I believe so. There has been so much talk about the promise of IIoT and this will probably be a major topic of discussion at the Emerson Exchange in The Hague next year. But the company is now delivering on that promise with a compelling and clear business case in Operational Certainty and with the most robust, scalable technology and service platform with the Plantweb digital ecosystem. We are now putting the ROI into IIoT.

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