Emerson Global Users Exchange, the company’s annual Americas customer meeting, drew 2,600 people to Nashville, Tennessee in September. As usual, the agenda was very full, and the expansive Gaylord Opryland venue offered the opportunity for all Fitbit wearers to get in their full quota of steps. (And with so many sessions, attendees were stepping quickly so as not to miss things.)
The meeting keynote and many sessions addressed all aspects of digital transformation (DT). There were many other announcements and new offerings, including:
- Digital Transformation Organization: Bundles Emerson solutions and best practices to design, implement, and execute the DT journey
- Operational Analytics: Principle-driven analytics augmented by Knet’s advanced analytics capabilities to deliver actionable insight combines Emerson automation expertise with Cisco’s networking, cybersecurity, and IT infrastructure capabilities
- AMS Asset Monitor: Analytics device adds predictive analytics at the edge
- PLCs and Optimizing Controller: GEIP acquisition adds two lines of modern PLCs and a true edge controller
- MyEmerson: Personalized digital tools designed to simplify and accelerate work
Digital Transformation Organization
In his keynote, Lal Karsanbhai, President of Emerson’s Automation Solutions (EAS) business, announced a new organization dedicated to helping customers develop and manage the company’s digital transformation initiatives. The new organization will be assembled from existing Emerson specialist organizations. It will bring together consulting, analytics, vertical industry expertise, pervasive sensing, and project management. Emerson believes that by bringing these specialties into a single organization, it can more effectively assist customers through their entire DT programs. Emerson veteran, Stuart Harris has been named DT Group President.
No doubt, this new organization was formed based on a need Emerson discovered in working with its customer base. The DT Group is tasked with helping customers get beyond “pilot purgatory” by connecting their enterprise strategies to site implementation and replicating that success at scale; the issue many end users report they are struggling to achieve.
Emerson has augmented its portfolio of principles-driven Plantweb Insight applications with its Knet and iSolutions acquisitions into something more than the sum of the parts to create an Operational Analytics Portfolio for its Plantweb digital ecosystem. The portfolio includes machine learning and artificial intelligence in both pre-packaged solutions as well as a toolbox for user application development. In contrast to the myriad of business analytic solutions available for finance and CRM, for example, Emerson has focused on operational analytics for manufacturing with a combination of rules-based, first principles and data-driven solutions. Translation: physical and thermodynamic laws are paired with domain expertise for modeling in conjunction with statistical models to spot outliers and advanced analytics for pattern recognition.
With this portfolio, the company claims it can detect and address 80 percent of industrial equipment failure modes with “known solutions.” The balance of unknown solution problems can be addressed by using the data-driven tools in Knet. ARC expects this 80 percent to be “good enough” for many Emerson customers when coupled with Emerson’s domain expertise, particularly in the process industries.
AMS Asset Monitor at the Edge
Distributed analytics extends data processing and computing close to or at the data source. Analytics embedded in two-way communication devices at the edge offer improved flexibility and responsiveness through better and faster data-driven decisions, particularly in brownfield environments. Emerson’s new AMS Asset Monitor is designed to provide these benefits by extending the ability to receive actionable insight into assets that were infrequently assessed.
AMS Asset Monitor employs device-centered analytics for prediction, protection, and process monitoring and features an internal Logic Studio with multiple pre-programmed application solutions to develop health scores. Designed to mount at the asset (either wired or wirelessly), the monitor accommodates up to 12 CHARMS (characterization modules) for vibration and process inputs or can be daisy-chained for extended asset coverage. Sensor health status is indicated locally and from mobile/desktop thin client interface, OPC UA, or Plantweb Optics.
PLCs, Edge Control, and MTP
Announced in October 2018, and completed in Q1 2019, the acquisition of GE Intelligent Platforms (GEIP) was on full display. This event was the first Emerson Exchange featuring the newly absorbed unit.
The acquisition brings Emerson two lines of modern PLCs (PACsystems and VersaMax) plus a new “Outcome Optimizing Controller,” the RX3i CPL410. This is a true machine edge controller that comes with a set of open-source software tools for developing higher level control, analytics, dashboarding, and a hypervised PLC to form a powerful application platform yoked with a fully functionally, hard real-time PLC. The CPL410 brings new capabilities for machine control in discrete markets and end-to-end plant automation in process and hybrid markets when integrated with Emerson control systems.
Rapid multi-system integration is becoming a key attribute of modern control systems. Use of skid-mounted equipment with dedicated controls is growing rapidly in capital projects for many industries. This equipment configuration places a premium on a system that can integrate a large number of skid-mounted systems simply and rapidly.
The DeltaV platform offers multiple methods of integrating these skid systems, from the new DeltaV PK controller to several existing solutions for PLC integration. For the newly acquired PLCs, Emerson plans an enhanced integration solution that uses the NAMUR MTP (module type package) technology. In a nutshell, the PLC configuration software will generate an XML description of all its elements (technically, this description is in AML, or automation markup language), including all the control logic as well as configured HMI displays. The DeltaV system will parse this description, assigning DeltaV tags to each element and generating an analogous set of DeltaV displays.
The vision of NAMUR’s MTP initiative is to facilitate very rapid integration of modular production units and their corresponding modular automation systems. Now that it owns a PLC business, Emerson wants to use MTP to deliver a superior DeltaV integration solution for its own PLCs.
The customer experience phenomena are migrating to automation as evidenced by the launch of MyEmerson. The goal is to connect better with customers through a single entry point for procurement, engineering tools, installed base records, and other online services. Digital engineering tools include sizing, selection, and configuration tools to accelerate device selection and specification. Procurement can utilize this information to streamline the process, i.e. create requisition lists, generate quotes, or automatically populate purchase orders. While anyone can access Emerson content online, a MyEmerson account personalizes the content, enabling faster access to information and expertise to improve productivity.
Emerson Exchange showcased how the company is evolving its portfolio towards the digital enterprise and Industrial IoT, all based on its Plantweb digital ecosystem. “Evolving” is the appropriate word. As CTO Peter Zornio noted, he sees digital transformation as an evolution, not revolution. Customers are embracing digital transformation but moving much slower than the technology. ARC continues to see the Plantweb ecosystem expand as the company works to close perceived gaps, either through acquisition or partnership.
With integration of the recently acquired GE Intelligent Platforms (GEIP) complete, Emerson has dramatically increased its ability to compete in the hybrid and discrete industries. Extending the Plantweb ecosystem to machine control enhances the company’s ability to compete in new markets. The company’s command of wireless technology enables it to deliver a field and plant network infrastructure capable of working together seamlessly, a plus for hybrid industries.
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Keywords: Digital Transformation, Edge Analytics, Edge Control, Operational Analytics, Customer Experience, Industrial IoT, ARC Advisory Group.