Emerson Process Management's Integrated Operations Initiative
Emerson's iOps program includes collaboration centers where team members can video conference to analyze and make decisions on process data in real-time from remote and/or geographically disparate locations.

Emerson Process Management hosted a grand opening ceremony to showcase its new Innovation Center in Round Rock, Texas. As part of the festivities, Emerson invited select customers, industry partners, and members of the press to preview its new Integrated Operations (iOps) initiative, which aims to help customers effectively manage applications that are in remote, hazardous, and/or locations that are generally not suitable for human beings to live and work.

The technology demonstrated at the event provides some insight on what the future of industrial process automation and control may look like.

“Running safe, profitable production operations is becoming increasingly challenging in the locations our customers are working in,” said Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer of Emerson Process Management. “These locations are sometimes referred to as ‘the Four D’s’: dull, distant, dirty, and dangerous. These are often places few people want to go. The cost and scarcity of skilled workers just compounds their challenges.”

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To overcome these challenges and improve operational effectiveness, Emerson expects more and more manufacturers to turn to a new model called Integrated Operations (iOps). While implementations vary, key ingredients include: collocation of cross-functional teams in more desirable locales, collaboration tools like video conferencing and other applications, real-time access to process and asset data, and streamlined decision making workflows.

Another key driver of Emerson’s move toward a centralized command center for operations is the rapid rise in the number of measurement points businesses are now monitoring. With the evolution of digital technology and the falling price of sensors, more and more devices are being introduced into the process, and they all have a story to tell. At the same time, the continued growth of wireless technology is enabling the remote monitoring of sensors in distant and harsh locations.

Emerson has coined the phrase “Pervasive Sensing” to describe the growth of sensor points in process applications. The concept of Pervasive Sensing not only ties into Emerson’s iOps Initiative, but is also critical to its push on another hot topic in the world of industry at the moment—“Big Data,” or as Emerson calls it “Big Data Analytics.”

“We like to say Pervasive Sensing is the ‘Data’ in ‘Big Data,’” said Bob Karschnia, vice president of Wireless for Emerson Process Management, during his presentation, “Pervasive Sensing—Changing the Fundamentals of Automation.”

“Customers have steadily seen operational improvement for years by deploying smart automation technologies that provide them more data—more visibility—into what’s really happening,” said Jim Nyquist, group vice president for Emerson’s Process Systems and Solutions business. “But data alone isn’t enough. The real opportunity is to imagine new organizational workflows, like the formation of cross functional collaboration centers that bring together decentralized expertise to enable better, faster decision-making. That’s iOps.”

Second, to give customers a clear sense of what’s possible in the future of Integrated Operations, Emerson has recently opened its state-of-the-art iOps Center at its Round Rock, Texas facility. The center is a real-world, working model of a production enterprise where customers can experience the collaboration and real-time, multi-disciplinary decision making that iOps aims to enable.

Emerson is evaluating plans to expand its network of iOps customer experience centers around the globe to support growing demand.

Matt Migliore is the director of content for Flow Control magazine and FlowControlNetwork.com. He can be reached at Matt@GrandViewMedia.com.

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