Enabling process industry digital transformations

International: A new solutions center in China and digital capabilities of process instrumentation enable process industries to lower costs and increase efficiencies with digitalization, virtual reality, augmented reality, and advanced flow sensing capabilities.

By Aileen Jin February 2, 2019

Slower global economic growth and the focus on environmental monitoring bring challenges to process manufacturers such as added pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency. How can enterprises realize high efficiency and safe and stable operation with digital technologies while maintaining competitiveness?

These are among questions being addressed at a new Emerson solution center in Nanjing, China. Stuart Miller, vice president of Emerson Asia Pacific for the flow business, in an interview with Control Engineering China, said the center brings a new digital factory experience to local users by introducing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to help process manufacturing enterprises in China effectively realize digital transformation.

New digital experiences

Have you imagined the future process factory? During the opening ceremony of Emerson’s Nanjing Solutions Center, reporters wore VR and AR glasses and experienced digital process factories. When customer designs an offshore oil and gas platform, possible system problems can be inspected, debugged, and corrected before a project facility’s installation by building the digital twin model of application scene. By using an AR helmet, engineers can intuitively observe the real-time data of field instruments. Once abnormality and system alarms occur, support from remote experts can be obtained to help resolve problems.

Miller pointed out process manufacturers may face some special problems during the digital transformation process. Emerson hopes it can provide customers with custom help via advanced digital technology and visual tools. Customers could use intelligent instruments to get on-site information and better use existing technologies to realize efficiency improvements.

At the center, customers can see the customized digital twin model and solutions by using VR and simulation tools. Through a combination of flow automation and deep industrial knowledge and advanced digital technology, Emerson will help customers improve industrial applications and projects, Miller said.

Innovative digital transformation

Digital transformation brings opportunities and challenges to the process manufacturing industry. Miller said many enterprises face the same problem: how to handle the mass of data acquired on site. Tens of thousands of sensors may be arranged in an intelligent process factory. Engineers need to process a lot of data and control system reports daily. Key is to find the valued data, and make important information available to relevant personnel in time.

To help factories improve equipment reliability and operation performance, Emerson launched Plantweb Optics, a mobile comprehensive equipment information platform, this year. The equipment information platform can reduce or eliminate irrelevant data via visual interface and self-defined alarm to improve user experience.

Miller said the platform can realize a trans-organization data view at any time via a mobile device. It can connect technicians, engineers, and factory managers and change the traditional workflow to help enterprises realize higher-level cooperation and get a better process view and decision optimization.

Miller said getting the right data to the right person at the right time is the key for process manufacturing enterprises to improve the operation and maintenance efficiency. Through an asset’s health information from various channels, which is summarized by Plantweb Optics, field staff can process the most important asset data and also make device health data is transformed into a user-friendly format. Then the data can be sent to relevant personnel so they can make more effective production decisions.

As a part of the Emerson Plantweb digital ecosystem, Plantweb Optics will help process manufacturing enterprises realize more effective and more reliable operations for digital transformation. The connection with computer maintenance management system (CMMS) and local historical library that can be subject to deep analysis is added for the latest version. Using the Plantweb Insight App, Plantweb Optics expands supported equipment asset types. The operation team can establish more effective strategy for the key assets by making use of the edge analysis on drain valve, pump, and heat exchanger, for instance.

Intelligent diagnosis, measuring reliability

Development of intelligent manufacturing and industrial Internet of Things has diversified enterprises’ demand for flow measurement technologies. Miller explained that customers seek high accuracy measurement and expect to realize more functions (such as intelligent diagnosis, maintenance free and remote service support). Increased R&D investments helps Emerson improve the reliability and intelligence of flow-measurement products, he suggested.

Emerson’s Smart Meter Verification (SMV) diagnostic software tool integrates powerful intelligent diagnosis and verification functions. It can perform online judgments to check if performance of flow sensors and transmitters meets measuring requirements. Real-time diagnosis checks if verification is needed. It can help the user observe process changes, if the medium has entrained gas, and if the actual flow meets the optimal working conditions, so as to ensure the measuring confidence and reliability needed by the process industry.

The diagnostic tool can accelerate the implementation of strategy for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Its remote diagnosis function, digital intelligence, and multi-data points can provide users with an overview of the process and situational awareness of the operation.

Miller said the software helps with flow sensor detection and alarming. Emerson claims 99% confidence of detecting instrument damage with its software; the algorithm can realize early detection without false alarms, reducing instrument maintenance. Miller added that it also provides clear verification check tracking and advanced visual analysis, meets compliance requirements of third-party supervision organization, and avoids the need to disassemble pipeline instrument.

Aileen Jin is editor-in-chief of Control Engineering China. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Process control, digitalization

Process industries seek digitalization strategies and smart data flow to improve efficiencies.

Automation technologies such as advanced data collection, and augmented reality can help.

Diagnostics augment reliability.


In what ways can advanced automation improve process plant efficiencies for you?

Author Bio: Aileen Jin is editor-in-chief of Control Engineering China.