Emerson: Ensuring Reliability, Uptime

Monday, October 6, 2014 @ 12:10 PM gHale


By Gregory Hale
Reliability and uptime, major forces behind the safety and security industry, fall into one of three categories users end up facing in their organizations every day.

“I had one executive at a refinery in India tell me that downtime was eating into his profits,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management and executive vice president of Emerson during his Monday keynote address at the Emerson Global Users Exchange 2014 in Orlando, FL. “Reliability has shifted from an issue for maintenance workers to a board room topic of discussion.”

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One of the answers to helping solve the reliability and uptime issue is understanding what is truly going on at all times and that means installing sensors to gain additional data.

“Knowing where you will have a problem is where pervasive sensing comes in,” he said.

When looking at reliability and uptime, it all comes down to reducing unplanned downtime. Sonnenberg said industry analyst firm, ARC Advisory Group found companies are losing $20 billion annually in unplanned shutdowns. Of that $20 billion, ARC found 80 percent was preventable, he said.

In addition to reliability and uptime, Sonnenberg said he has two other common themes among users:
• Product risk
• Reliability and uptime
• Skills shortage

When it comes to product risk, “projects are becoming bigger and more complex,” he said. “With all those complexities, there is a better chance of something going wrong.”

He mentioned one executive with a European oil company said they will only do projects moving forward that have a reduced level of risk. They want to gain project certainty with limited risk allowed.

Talking about the skills shortage, this has been an issue the industry has been grappling with for at least five years if not more.

“Baby Boomers are taking their knowledge out the door,” he said. “One manager told me they have a skills shortage on the Gulf Coast.” While some of the developing countries may have an abundance of workers, they lack experience in running a plant.

One answer, Sonnenberg said, is to provide engineering support services from subject matter experts in a global service center like their Integrated Operations Center (iOps). That center helps users safely, reliably and profitably operate facilities in industries, including oil and gas, refining, chemicals, power, life sciences, food & beverage, and metals & mining.

In terms of how the manufacturing industry is doing these days, Sonnenberg said the year started off slowly because organizations were hesitating because of various global events, but as the year went on, there was a continuing level of growth.

“North America is a now a new emerging market with strong investment in oil and gas,” he said. “We will see a strong 2015 and 2016, fueled by North America which will spur growth globally.”

Sonnenberg talked last year about how he wanted Emerson to be a company that listened and part of that is following through on promises. He talked about the promises users make every day: Promises employers make to ensure a safe environment, make a solid product and to stockholders to ensure the company keeps profits moving upward.

But you have to be smart about how you approach the market and everything has to be working in sync.

“Use technology, use people and use processes to solve your problems,” Sonnenberg said



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