CHARMS gets THUMS up in Rijswijk!
Emerson Process Management held a press conference at Rijswijk, their Netherlands’ headquarters on the 18th November 2009. It preceded the Innovatie Middag user meeting held on the 19th November.
The meeting started with a focus on customer usability. They introduced a new technology to improve the usability of automation systems products helping to increase operator productivity.
Bob Sharp was introduced rather alarmingly as the new “President of Europe” but he assured us that it Herman van Rompuy need have no worries.
He made a presentation on a topic troubling us all in this time of startling change. Firstly The combination of leaner staffs and loss of experience creates a knowledge void. Two things are happening here. Staff with automation experience are fewer on the ground now and people are being moved out of the plant into the safe area. The figures are stark indeed, as reported recently in InTech, the American Petroleum Society estimates that 40% of their workforce will have reached retirement age by next year (2010). As this destaffing is occuring plants are becoming larger and ever more complex. For example most transmitters these days have more computing power then the first DCS controllers.
A major plant accident in a Texas (US) petrochemical plant was attributed to “operator error.” The investigation into the accident discovered that the unit’s engineer and the operators in the control room at the time of the accident had all been on the job less than one year.
These paradoxical happenings – more complex plants, less experienced and fewer staff, have major implications for companies such as Emerson Process Management.
So how is Emerson coping with this dilemma? Like the virtually every organisation they did not have the expertese to understand fully, never mind solve, the problems that the new fast approaching reality was starting to present. So they trawled the various – and few – institutions and finally established a relationship with Carnegie-Mellon Human Computer Interaction Institute (CMU-HCII). Basically and very simply the result of their research and study since 2004 is to concentrate on the HUMAN side of HMI. Since there will be less people with the qualifications to run a complex system then the complex system must be capable of operation intuitively.
Signalling an important change in technology trends, they are making process control technology easier to use with its introduction of their Human Centered Design Institute. This announcement culminates more than five years of customer work-practice analysis, new product development re-engineering and organisational training. The goal is simple: make products that are not only reliable, compatible and cost-effective, but also bring about a significant improvement in ease-of-use and workforce productivity. In short “Reversing the Master / Servant relationship between technology and people will reduce product complexity and improve productivity”
So the idea is to concentrate on the customer, the human, the guy or the gal working the system from early conception, through design, construction, testing, handing over and finally operating. Sometimes it is better to emphasise what something isn’t in order to stress how it is different. HCD Designs are NOT: Based on traditional customer interviews or focus group research; Feature/function driven; Just focused on screens.
So how does HCD manifest itself in our industry? Well according to Bob Sharp and Emerson there are three ways. It elliminates unecessary work processes, removes the complexity of using technology and embeds specialised knowledge. This embedding enables the system to tell the opeartor “There is a problem!, the problem is here and this is how you fix it!”
The table 2 discussion
See also Patrick Raleigh’s editorial, ISA100 wireless claims dismissed as “good marketing” and related articles! (Process Engineering)
OK! So that’s the philosophy done but what do they suggest to exemplify this philosophy and how do they express it practically in their offering?
They have enhanced their PlantWeb architecture with the new DeltaV S-series. A change that essentially eliminates the need for a physical path from signal source to controller. Instead new single channel CHARacterization ModuleS or CHARMS relay I/O information via the Ethernet backbone to any controller and provide single channel integrity and flexibility down to the channel level. Secondly in their AMS Suite they have introduced what they call Device Dashboards.
- Emerson introduces the DeltaV™ S-series platform with “I/O on Demand” that eliminates work, reduces project cost, and increases operational flexibility
- Emerson introduces Device Dashboards, a unique family of device management displays focused on boosting usability and productivity
- Emerson and Meridium combine their asset management expertise to create valuable new capabilities
- Emerson enhances DeltaV™ digital automation system with integrated machinery protection and prediction
- Emerson introduces FOUNDATION™ Fieldbus Interfaces for remote oil, gas and water applications
- Emerson unveils full redundancy for Smart Wireless monitoring and control applications, furthers wireless adoption on all capital projects
On the plant floor they have concentrated first on the wireless side of things with the THUM (The HARTWireless Upgrade Module) which converts any HART device to wireless thus enabling new measurement points. They have also introduced the unique Wireless Valve Position Monitors which again delivers previously unavailable equipment data.
- Emerson is first to ship WirelessHART adapters to deliver rich plant improvement data from existing HART® devices
- Emerson announces WirelessHART™ Fisher® position monitor, extends safety and performance gains from Smart Wireless solutions
- Emerson adds Rosemount® vibrating fork liquid level switch to Smart Wireless product portfolio
“Arguably the best entertainment at the
Because some of us had shared albeit virtually or maybe vicariously some of the Emerson Exchange 2009 presentation the fame of the next presentation demonstration of the old versus the new in competition had assumed somthing of a cult status and so people were most anxious to see this. Basically Peter Zornio, Emerson’s Chief Strategic Officer pitted the European Director of PlantWeb, Travis Hesketh as the champion of the conservative or conventional approach versus Duncan Schleiss’s modern I/O on demand of the new Delta V Series S (Which Peter claims stands for “sleek and sexy” and who are we to argue!). He set four tasks to each side and despite his best efforts the result in all four competions saw Travis conventional, and for more than thirty years the only, solution lost out to the new, simpler I/O on demand which has so transformed DeltaV that they have changed it’s logo. This was an entertaining and educational way of getting this message across.
A second presentation, moderated by Dale Perry, Pressure Marketing Manager with Rosemount, also cleverly demonstrated the simplicity of the new AMS Device Dashboards versus the more conventional systems by pitting two editors against each other one conventional and the other using the newer more simple and intuitive system.
The second half of the event featured lots of news about Smart Wireless in use throughout the globe. They introduced customer applications, sharing their stories of innovation and business value, as well as launching above of significant new technology for even more robust, reliable wireless installations.
- Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology helps CalPortland Company comply with air quality regulations at California cement plant
- Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology expansion helps Severstal Wheeling make further gains at its Ohio steel plant
- Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology improves operator efficiency and plant flexibility for Novartis in France
- Emerson’s Smart Wireless Transmitters Monitor Storage Tanks at Nynas Refinery in Sweden
- Emerson’s Smart Wireless network monitors biomass gasification pre-combustion chamber at Polish power plant
- Emerson’s PlantWeb® architecture provides flexible automation solution for pilot ethanol processing plant in Sweden
- Emerson’s Smart Wireless Technology Validates Crude Oil Temperature Monitoring in Storage Tank Protection Systems at BP Dalmeny Terminal, GB
Reports from various publications:
Human Centred Design Drives Emerson’s New Technology Development (Control Engineering E&ME Feb 2010)
Many skilled operators and engineers in the process plant workforce are now reaching retirement age. (Nick Denbow’s ProcessingTalk Jan 2010)
HART info get wireless THUMS up (Process Engineerting 7/12/2009)
Emerson Overturns 35 Years of Industry Thinking on I/O (Andrew Bond in ControlGlobal e-news 2/12/2009)
Client pres event Rijswijk, Netherlands (HHC Lewis PR people for Emerson 2/12/2009)
Emerson targets costs, workload and complexity with new automation platform (Process Engineering 19/11/2009)
By the way if you think you heard any of this before that’s because you probable read some of the material which emanated from the Emerson Exchange 2009 held in Orlando in early October. However since we were only there virtually this current European abridged version had the additional impact of face to face interaction. So please bear with us!