Fostering Digital Transformation in Process Automation
The process industries today are undergoing a truly unprecedented metamorphosis. Past 30 years have brought fantastic advances in the manufacturing sector, including greater operating efficiencies enabled by automation, the incremental benefits gained from that progress are now getting enabled with new technologies.
The integration of new technologies like smart field devices, secure networks, and advanced analytics is revolutionising the way manufacturers are gearing to achieve Top Quartile performance.
Top Quartile performance focuses on improving safety, reliability, production and energy management by empowering personal with new insights and actionable information.
New technology trends which Top quartile companies are adapting and driving manufacturing industry are Assets Optimisation, Production Integration, Smart Monitoring, Remote Diagnosis, Intelligent Decision making and most importantly Predictive Maintenance. Digital Transformation (DX) is a key approach which has helped to integrate these technology trends and to merge the gaps between information technology and operational technology.
The pressure is now on industry leaders to take the next step toward achieving the kind of game-changing performance that can only be made possible by digitally empowering their greatest resource: people. It’s time to provide the next-generation workforce with the skills and insights they need to become even more valuable assets to their companies.
While many organisations are investing in automation technologies to improve their operations, they often fail to realise the expected return on those investments. Typically, this is either because their workforce lacks the knowledge and skills to utilise the technologies’ full capabilities, or they’re unable to integrate the new systems into their work processes and operating procedures.
Many management consulting firms understand the broad opportunities that implementing advanced technologies represents, but they often lack the industry-specific knowledge to develop a pragmatic solution architecture that leverages existing infrastructure and accelerates returns. Moreover, traditional consulting firms lack the specialisation and resources for end-to-end execution required to fully realise a successful digital transformation, frequently providing guidance without the ability to deliver. There’s no question that in today’s highly competitive market, those who can quickly adopt Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) innovations will reap the most benefits. What most manufacturers need is a clear, predictable path forward and technology partner with ready portfolio. To begin, here are some questions that managers should ask themselves and their teams:
- What opportunities for digitisation are there throughout the organisation?
- What is the current culture regarding digitisation? Will there be any internal resistance to change?
- How will digitisation disrupt our current business model?
- Do we have the right talent in the organisation necessary for implementing digital automation solutions?
When planning for digital transformation, it is important to have a broad understanding of the technologies that are available and how they can enhance workforce productivity. The foundation of a successful IIoT automation platform is best-in-class pervasive sensing technologies and process control and safety systems that are scalable and deploy an extensive suite of analytics and optimisation tools. Sensors have been ubiquitous in the process industries for decades. In recent years, however, advances in smart sensor technology and implementation have helped to make sensors one of the most powerful enablers of the IIoT.
The more smart sensors a plant is able to deploy, the more data personnel have to drive better operational decision-making. Just as steam-powered engines revolutionised transportation, digitisation will have a profound effect on all sectors – most significantly in the industrial realm. The focus of digital transformation will be driven by technology, organisational culture, and most importantly talent. Organisations can look at deploying these technologies by taking on small projects, eventually driving to a full digital plants in a scalable environment. Organisations will need to focus on changing their talent identification, hiring, training and management process. Business leadership and technical leadership must work together, creating a new corporate vision of a truly digital industrial organisation.
Emerson enables Digital Capture of Plant Conditions
Emerson has released AMS Inspection Rounds, a new application for the AMS Trex Device Communicator that will make it easier for operations teams to capture, report, and respond to abnormal plant conditions that pose risks to reliability, safety, and performance. The new application allows personnel to accurately record field condition data and automatically deliver that data to other plant systems where decision makers can drive effective action.
Most plants rely on manual inspection rounds to detect abnormal plant conditions not identified by sensors. With AMS Inspection Rounds, operators on rounds can electronically record any abnormal or hazardous conditions immediately, such as unusual equipment noise, spills, smells, excessive corrosion, or safety hazards. Condition data can be entered on the ruggedised AMS Trex in real-time – timestamped for compliance and audit requirements.
“Route-based inspections are a key line of defense for identifying abnormal and unsafe conditions that may reduce efficiency or put personnel in danger,” said Mani Janardhanan, vice president of product management, Plantweb and reliability solutions, Emerson Automation Solutions. “AMS Inspection Rounds helps ensure that issues impacting safety and reliability are detected, reported, and resolved earlier.”