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Home > Posts > Emerson Exchange 2013:“Pervasive Sensing” Is the Future
October 11

Emerson Exchange 2013:“Pervasive Sensing” Is the Future

Keywords: Asset Management, AMS, Emerson, Measurement, Virtualization, Wireless.

ARC Advisory Group analysts were among the 3,000 attendees at the Emerson Exchange in Dallas, September 30 through October 4, 2013. This annual meeting focuses on applications and new developments for Emerson Process Management products. The event features hundreds of technical sessions, most covering user experiences and Emerson product roadmaps. ARC's top takeaways from the meeting's agenda include:

  • Emerson's "Pervasive Sensing" vision for process plants
  • Many new applications for virtualization in DCS and SIS
  • Continued enhancement of Emerson's AMS Suite software
  • A new line of Coriolis meters targeting oil & gas applications
  • New approaches to project and lifecycle automation services


Emerson's Pervasive Sensing Vision
Emerson has always been a market leader in measurement. Another point of differentiation that becomes clear from attending this event is the company's deep commitment to wireless sensing. Rather than merely bolting wireless network adapters onto existing products, whole Emerson product lines have been designed to use wireless. Some of these are now in their second or third generations.

The company sees a future in which a substantial portion of "business-critical" plant measurements are made wirelessly, integrated with the process automation system only at higher levels, and managed separately from process automation functions. "Pervasive sensing" is the term Emerson uses to describe a plant including these new classes of measurements. The company believes future plants will implement many more measurements because better technologies for device management and wireless sensing will allow them to be effectively deployed and supported at much lower cost points.

Indeed, at one panel session an executive from an EPC firm described a greenfield project in which the owner-operator and EPC collaborated to do just that. The database of plant measurements was carefully classified. Some classes were assigned to hard-wired I/O, while many others were allocated to wireless sensing systems. ARC rarely hears EPCs talking like this about real projects for which they bear risk.

Virtualization in DCS
Virtualization technology is a major piece of the latest DeltaV system release (Version 12). The technology enable servers, operator and engineering stations, and data storage to all be run on virtual machines if desired. ARC believes that one area where DCS virtualization truly addresses a pain point in the installed base is the ability to virtualize obsolete PCs. Owner-operators are frustrated at the short lifecycle of COTS PC equipment, especially in control room installations. Emerson now offers virtual machines that duplicate many older PC-based workstations whose hardware and operating systems can't be found in today's market. Using virtual machines de-couples the HMI hardware update from new software, addressing many problems associated with short-lived PC equipment.

Emerson introduced solutions that will ease the virtualization of its automation components. Virtual Studio allows auto-generation and configuration of DeltaV virtual machines (VMs) and provides pre-built VM templates and an integrated VM manager. The company presented hardware virtualization architectures that address cost, availability, and disaster recovery. It also offers "Simulation on a Stick" whereby a controller simulator is delivered on a USB key without requiring software to be loaded on a host machine.

In the area of system availability, Emerson offers backup and recovery, plus redundant applications and storage. Virtualization for high availability (HA) and disaster recovery should be available by July. Emerson's platform of choice is the new Dell VRTX blade server solution. One end user commented that the value of virtualization is not so much about saving hardware space and associated costs; but more about management, high availability, and disaster recovery.

AMS Portfolio Enhancements
Emerson continues to enhance its portfolio of asset management hardware, software, and services. The company's recently released CSI 2140 Machinery Health Analyzer is a set of tools that bridge the skills gap between the knowledgeable specialists who are retiring and the generalists replacing them. The device takes a human-centered design approach to vibration analysis by including four-channels for faster data collection, touchscreen for single-handed operation, sufficient battery life to last an entire shift, and Bluetooth wireless communications. Embedded intelligence provides pre-configured menus and technical set ups. Cross-channel and transient analysis tools assist with root cause analysis.

The newly released AMS Suite: Machinery Health Manager v5.6 has been enriched to deliver more data for better decision making. It supports the CSI 2140 analyzer and also integrates data from the new Spectro Inc. handheld Q1100 FluidScan oil analyzer. The ability of AMS Suite to integrate diverse data sets enables expanded asset and data management.

Emerson also introduced a System Health Monitoring solution for proactive maintenance of automation systems. It monitors DCS controllers, workstations, printers, switches, uninterrupted power supplies, firewalls, and other system components; providing alerts and event reporting to minimize unplanned downtime, maintain system security, and control maintenance costs. ARC believes this is the first of many remote monitoring solutions Emerson will launch in the coming months in conjunction with its pervasive sensing initiative and the unveiling of Emerson Process Management's iOps (Integrated Operations) Center in Austin, TX scheduled for January 2014.

Coriolis Meters Enhanced for Oil & Gas Applications
Emerson continues to enhance its measurement products to deliver high-value, business critical information. For example, the next-generation Elite Coriolis mass flow sensor is fully drainable, and – according to the company – sets new standards in mass flow measurement in terms of accuracy, turndown, and stability at low flow rates. The company's Micro Motion unit also introduced next-generation meters for density and viscosity measurements in response to end user demand for application-specific solutions. According to the company, the new compact density meter (CDM) for online density metering enhances custody transfer, processing, and blending operations. The new gas density meter (GDM) for gas purity and blending applications utilizes a vibrating fork to provide multiple measurements, including specific gravity, molecular weight, gas purity, heating value, and Wobbe Index.

The new family of meters shares a common user interface, and has the same look and feel as other members of the Micro Motion line. New diagnostic capability, called "known density verification," checks meters for measurement alarm conditions, sensor integrity and the presence of coating, erosion, or corrosion. Links to Emerson asset portal tools such as ProLink and AMS are included.

Collaborative Project Engineering Approach
Emerson described a recent project for which it would normally be faced with trading quality and schedule for cost. By utilizing the collaborative tools available, the project team created a Virtual Office. This Virtual Office treated the entire team as if all members were co-located. Normally, remote engineers are given sub-packages of work, requiring additional management. For this project, however, engineers in Calgary and India were treated as if they were located in adjacent cubes. Challenges with time zones were addressed by shifting working hours at both ends.

One key takeaway from the project was the importance of team building and treating everyone as part of "the team." The team was brought together in a number of face-to-face meetings for kickoff and milestone reviews, and key contributors were assembled for other critical meetings. The presenter advised global teams to "look for opportunities to socialize," and communicate objectives, changes, ideas, etc. as if the team was co-located.

In the end, according to the presenter, the project execution yielded a savings of $4 million from the initial bid, while the quality of the deliverables was maintained with little rework and the project was delivered on time.

Lifecycle Management - Total Care
The industry has been wrestling with workforce challenges for well over a decade. Faced with retiring knowledge workers, increasingly complex technology, and greater competitive forces, manufacturers are searching for better solutions. One of Emerson's answers to these challenges is its "Total Care" services offering. The company designed the program to address the lack of knowledge workers by providing software plus a pool of Emerson specialists. One manufacturer described this as "just driving a car; instead of designing, driving, and fixing the car yourself."

Total Care encompasses three facets: Program Governance, System Analysis, and Site Services. Site Services have been around for a long time. System Analysis, in which the vendor evaluates the installed system(s) and maintenance practices, is a growing industry trend. Program Governance includes consultancy services and coordination by a dedicated manager. Other services can be incorporated as required or the program can be tailored to fit the customer's needs.

One interesting aspect of the service is performance-based service level agreements in which service effectiveness is measured against pre-agreed-upon KPIs such as customer satisfaction, contractor workplace safety compliance, and mean time to repair.

Emerson Process Management continues to build out its process automation solution portfolio, but the foundation of its strategy remains its market leadership in field devices and networks for measurement and actuation, where Emerson continues to innovate and invest more resources than its principal competitors.

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