|Brought to you by ControlGlobal.com and Putman Media
||October 2, 2006|
Headlines from Today's Activities
Emerson Announces the Start of Wireless Made Easy
"Manufacturers hate surprises in their facilities and have long wanted to have eyes and ears on every asset to know what is really going on in their operation," said Berra. "Until now, there was no easy, reliable and economical way to reach all of the assets that needed monitoring. Smart Wireless technology for in-plant mainstream applications changes that paradigm. Inspired by customer input, we began research and development of this new technology in 1998, and we have completed three years of customer field trials. In those trials, we've seen customers quickly discover and remedy problems that would have gone undetected."
"Our field trials were part of a partnership between BP and Emerson that we entered into with the intent of enabling innovative technology to be developed in record time," said David Lafferty, senior technology consultant with BP's Chief Technology Office in Digital & Communications Technology. "The trials were very successful and a win-win for both companies. Emerson gained a real-world environment for valuable testing and feedback on its technology; we at BP gained experience in exploiting this new technology for business value.
"We've found that this wireless technology enabled us to do things we simply could not do before, either because of cost or physical wiring obstacles," continued Lafferty. "Through the trials, we found that Emerson's wireless approach is flexible, easy to use, reliable, and makes a step-change reduction in installed costs."
Emerson's wireless approach consists of self-organizing Smart Wireless field networks and SmartStart® global wireless services. The in-plant Smart Wireless field networks employ innovative wireless TSMP (Time-Synchronized Mesh Protocol) self-organizing wireless network technology.
The initial Smart Wireless family offering includes the Rosemount 3051S Wireless transmitter for level, pressure and flow measurement, Rosemount 648 Wireless temperature transmitter, Emerson 1420 Wireless Gateway, a native wireless interface, the AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager 8.1, and SmartStart global wireless services. Emerson claims that the networks integrate seamlessly with Emerson's DeltaV and Ovation digital automation systems or legacy hosts.
The self-organizing mesh network enables wireless access to both measurement and diagnostic information in HART devices, automatically routing data via optimal radio signal pathways that overcome environments with obstructions or interference. The inherent redundancy of this approach enables over 99 percent of field network messages to reach their destination. Overall, Emerson wireless trial customers have experienced 99.9 percent network reliability, extremely easy deployment, industrial-strength security, long battery life and as much as 90 percent less installed cost.
Development is also under way to add native Smart Wireless functionality to the broad range of Emerson field devices, including Fisher digital valves, Micro Motion Coriolis flowmeters and Rosemount Analytical products.
Installation of Emerson's in-plant Smart Wireless solutions requires no site surveys or special tools. The solutions are designed to support SP100 control and monitoring application classes 1-5. Emerson's SmartPower innovations enable battery life of 5 years to 15 years, depending on application. The field network is scalable from 5 devices to more than 100,000.
Emerson is actively collaborating in the standards development process with the HART Wireless Specification committee and ISA's SP100 committee, and is bringing the company's field trial experience and use case data and conclusions to the standards bodies. Berra and Sonnenberg announced themselves committed to guaranteeing an easy upgrade path for compliance to the industry standard when it is completed.
Emerson announced that it intends to donate intellectual property around Smart Wireless to the relevant standards bodies. Berra said, "We aren't working on this alone. We have joined forces with 18 other companies to jointly work toward a standard."
Emerson introduced the Smart Pack starter kit, which contains Smart Start services; from 5 to 100 wireless Rosemount flow, pressure, level or temperature transmitters; a wireless gateway; and a 25-tag AMS Intelligent Device Manager software application for predictive information access. Completely pre-engineered, checked out and configured, the network will form right out of the box with no additional user input or setup.
"It has been exciting to see how in-plant Emerson Smart Wireless functionality has captured the imagination of managers, engineers and operations personnel during trials," added Berra. "Once they started using the technology, they were able to envision additional applications. They wanted more wireless products! We are thrilled to respond to our customers by launching Emerson Smart Wireless solutions, and to join them in ushering in the age of wireless and the new level of performance it promises."
Complete technical documentation, online tools and information about the newest additions to the Smart Wireless portfolio are available at www.emersonprocess.com/SmartWireless. In November, Emerson's PlantWeb University will add more than twenty-five 15-minute courses that present a practical introduction to the technology and applications of in-plant wireless for operators, engineers and management.
Emerson also announced an in-plant Smart Wireless design contest aimed at inspiring process engineers to unleash their imaginations and creative engineering spirits by submitting innovative applications they have found where wireless technology delivered new insight and business benefits. Their experiences, insights and tips will form a foundation to speed wireless usage and benefits in the new age of wireless.
The in-plant Smart Wireless solutions for 900 MHz applications can be ordered now in North America, and will be available in Latin America in early 2007. The 2.4 GHz solutions will launch in Europe and Asia in early 2007 and will also be available then in Latin America.
"We expect to roll wireless out to our full range of measurement devices over the next eighteen months." Rosemont President Steve Sonnenberg.
Berra Relates Company Vision to Emerson Users
Emerson's members on the board serve as facilitators, Berra noted, and the board dictates even what Emerson can do to talk about its own products.
"What is so important about this Exchange to Emerson is the friendship. We start out working together as friends—and there is no substitute for that relationship," Berra said, "...we know each other, we trust each other, and that provides the most valuable direct insight. Because of that relationship we can follow YOUR lead...we are a technology company, and this relationship guides that technology in a direction that provides your businesses solid investments in our technology."
Because "we roll up our sleeves and deliver results," in the final analysis, Berra noted, "we all have the same job—we are all trying to make our companies better."
The State of the Company
"So why are we here? It's going to be a big and busy week—you'll be able to see and speak with the greatest minds in our industry, and I don't mean the Emerson people, although they're pretty smart too. We learn from you," Berra said.
"This is a moment in time when we have new opportunities coming our way. We are being asked to do more with less; our colleagues are retiring; and we are being asked to get more from existing facilities, create instant plants and instant workforces in emerging economies. We are being asked to work miracles."
Berra said that Emerson has tried to provide the broadest set of tools and services "to help you operate yesterday's plants to today's levels and build the plants of tomorrow."
"Wireless promises to enable us to put more monitoring in the plant at one-tenth the cost of wired technology," he went on. "Side by side, wired and wireless sensors and instruments and controls will work together giving us our eyes into processes where we don't see now."
Wireless, he said, should be easy to use. "This technology is here today. Go down to the exhibits later and see it work. It will open up new doors in the area of intelligence and predictive maintenance...we'll see rates of corrosion, line buildup, emissions, relief valve status and so forth, entirely without wires, because we will be able to afford to do it."
"We are not working alone," Berra said. "We have joined forces with many other companies. Today we will even announce a starter pack. There's a lot of buzz around wireless. We're going to let our efforts do the talking. This change will not come from press releases, but from working with our customers to solve their problems."
Berra closed, saying, "As automation professionals, we're going to make a difference for our companies, and as friends. You are our rudder, and you help us navigate through these stormy seas."
"We are a technology company and our relationship with our users guides that technology in a direction that provides your businesses solid investments." Emerson Process Management CEO John Berra.
Pursuit of Significance Will Unleash Next Generation's Potential
Illustrating his point, Beckman went through an economic and social review of the issues facing companies in the process industries. "All the easy energy has been found," he said, "and all the simple optimization techniques have been applied. What is left is the heavy lifting. This will require new, more sophisticated technology, as we drill deeper, convert more biomass, refine an increasingly sour crude, transport gas from remote regions by converting it to liquids, build green coal-fired power plants, construct safe nuclear generation stations, leach out metals from ever-diminishing ore deposits and open new frontiers in our fight to cure disease," he said.
Beckman noted that talent is required—engineers who can work together in collaborative teams to seek out the new ways to do that heavy lifting.
"The pace of change is dizzying," he said. "But change is what makes flexible technology and skilled engineers so valuable. If there was no change, our profession would be much smaller—design it once and push the start button. We are going to have to design our processes to flex with the ever-increasing swings of the market."
Beckman continued, "We need to have the right tools or technology. It's simply not possible to be flexible enough to cope with the demands placed upon us if we do not have open and expandable systems. And in my career, which spans 38 years, no technology has better suited us for the challenge before us than Fieldbus because it opened up communication.
"To a large degree, the Exchange is about technology." Beckman said. "But technology is only part of the answer; skilled people are needed to unleash the true potential. One thing is clear: The heavy lifting we referred to earlier will require new skills and knowledge to meet the challenges we face today."
Beckman believes we face the combined issues of an aging workforce rapidly leaving the business and the increasingly complex processes of automation that will require even higher levels of new learning. "Over the next four years," he noted, "40 percent of our current workforce will retire, taking with them much of the 'tribal knowledge' we use to run our plants."
Beckman says it's a new kind of worker who is going to emerge at the end of this decade. The traditional manufacturing worker is rapidly disappearing and replacing him is a "skilled worker" who works with the mind, not the back. These workers don't refer to themselves as workers, but as professionals. They want to make a difference and have both a career and a successful family life. They want to be significant.
Beckman says the Katrina disaster shows how this works. Engineers and technicians whose own homes were destroyed, and whose families were homeless went back to work to rebuild the refineries the life of our country depended on.
"I think the expressions on the faces of those heroes tell it all. Is what they are doing significant? You bet."
"Technology is only part of the answer—skilled people are needed to unleash true potential." Dave Beckman on the continuing need for skilled automation professionals who can design processes that flex in response to changing conditions.
Former Temple-Inland Chief Outlines Challenges to Industry
Speaking from the perspective of retirement, he admitted that his current gauge of how business is going is measured by "the Weather Channel, the Home Shopping Network, and Metamucil." Nevertheless, his words rang true for some 2,000 process automation professionals gathered at the Emerson Global Users Exchange.
Challenge number one for industry, he said, is the need to do more and more with less and less. "We're challenged to get to the future first, and get there with less." Further, he cautioned against downsizing that results in corporate anorexia. "Often, we're thinner but not healthier. Are workers our most important assets or just our most expendable?"
Number two on Potts list of industry's challenges is how to use rapidly changing technology and survive the transformation it brings. Changing technology is always "part gee-whiz, and part uh-oh. The hardest thing I've ever done is to tell people their jobs went away because of changing technology," he said. Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things, he further cautioned.
"Playing in a global game against intense competition," is challenge number three. "Get efficient or get out," he said, relating his own personal experience of tough times for the U.S. paper industry, especially as China's new and more efficient papermaking industry grew, displacing a once-thriving export business for U.S. companies.
"Another challenge is to survive in an era when environmental concerns are dominant," Potts said. "Environmental responsibility has to be a part of everything we do. We need to strike a balance between what people need, what technology can deliver and what shareholders will accept."
Potts' final challenge is to resist the momentum of the status quo; to be bold enough to exploit change; to not simply "view the world as we would like to see it." He related a perspective-changing personal story of his own. In the early 1990s a paper machine was down due to an explosion, and his company had to rely on a Russian cargo airline to deliver key capital equipment from England for a timely recovery. As a former Army officer during Vietnam, he confessed to not being prepared for the change in his own perspective: He was not used to thinking that a Russian company might view him as a customer needing to be served.
"There is no longer any room for a domestic view," he said. "Competition blinds people to the real challenge of exploiting change."
"Don't let yourself fall into a rut, which is really just a grave with the ends kicked out." Willis Potts offers his homespun advice for surviving and thriving in a globally competitive world.