Innovation Front and Center

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 @ 07:02 PM gHale


By Gregory Hale
Lying beneath the hoopla of Emerson Process Management’s Innovation Center grand opening late last week along with its Integrated Operations Center is the potential to generate an even stronger safety and security environment for the industry.

Emerson Process Management unveiled its $70 million innovation center in Round Rock, TX, last Thursday designed to help its customers operate large-scale automation projects.

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The 282,000-square-foot facility will serve as the company’s global headquarters for its automation systems and project services business, what Jim Nyquist, president of Process Systems and Solutions for Emerson Process Management, called the brains of the automation system.

The multi-disciplinary center provides technology and product design support for customers, as well as a facility called the Integrated Operations Center (iOps), where customers can learn how to remotely manage operations and collaborate with experts. It also houses a consulting and engineering practice, along with a product testing lab. That iOps center is where companies can come in and learn how to navigate through a tumultuous environment manufacturing automation professionals confront daily that consists of cyber attacks, safety issues, shortage of qualified personnel to name a few.

The Round Rock facility is the company’s third center globally, the other two are in Marshalltown, IA, which focuses on flow control and in Pune, India, which targets software applications. The Round Rock center focuses on process systems and solutions.

Among the attendees at the grand opening was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who talked about the growing pressures companies face not only from Washington, but across the globe.

“Not only do (companies) have to keep doing what they have been doing, they have to do more, they have to do it smarter and more efficiently,” he said. “If not, someone half way around the world will beat them to it.”

“Government can’t get in the way,” he said. “We have to empower industry to do their best work; their most innovative work. We are evolving into the next generation. We have to think about the next decade.”

Dell Inc. founder and chief executive Michael Dell also attended Thursday’s event because not only are the two companies neighbors, they have a longstanding engineering and technology partnership.

“Solving companies’ problems is a team sport. The real power of technology is to be able to go and address those big challenges that are out there,” he said. “The progress that technology enables in the world is pretty profound.”

“To us, this campus is more than just an expanded space, it actually is a catalyst for innovation,” Nyquist said. “It’s here where we solve some of our customers’ toughest challenges.”

“Texas is where we bring big data and little data together for our customers,” said David Farr, Emerson’s chairman and chief executive.

Quite a few of the companies Emerson works with live in a 4D environment, Farr said. This 4D environment is dull, dangerous, distant and dirty.

“In the past, the workers had to be on site, checking the data with other parts of the world,” he said. But now, with a combination of pervasive sensing, wireless technologies and virtualization, manufacturers can get more of their workers out of those environments and into more collaborative control rooms.

That pervasive sensing component is what comes to life in the iOps center.

With pervasive sensing users can check on the asset health and safety and security, said Peter Zornio, chief strategy officer for Emerson Process Management.

“You are able to get real time data on the process and more,” he said.

In that 4-D environment, Zornio said the challenges just get more complex with new types of technologies and worker shortages.

“Job functions can become compartmentalized with different functional silos where people just focus on what they do like planning, operations maintenance and safety,” he said. “There ends up being disjointed communications and decision making.”

That is where the iOps center comes into play because it allows for the experts to come together in real time to communicate and make effective decisions.



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