The Emerson Global Users Exchange in Europe was a three-day event for existing and potential users of Emerson Process Management products and services. The event was held from 1-3rd April 2014 in Stuttgart, the capital of the German Land (State) of Baden-Wurtemburg (D).
Many memories sprang to mind as the Aer Lingus flight from Dublin touched down gently at Stuttgart Airport. It was over forty years since I had been there on a training course – in pneumatic instrumentation – in a local company which has long since been swallowed up , much like pneumatic controls, in the advances and takeovers since that time! There on the surrounding hills was the emblematic fernsehturm, the very first television tower in the world and a symbol of a resurgent city recovering from the ravages of total war.
I was travelling to the Emerson Exchange User Group meeting (Tagged #EMrex on twitter) of the European, Middle East & African region along with over 1,200 others anxious to learn of the experience of others as well as learning of any new “goodies” Emerson themselves might have to unveil! This was the second such event in Europe, the last was also in Germany in the city of Duesseldorf, two years ago – see Automation returns to Duesseldorf. Of course the User Conference for the Americas has been held annually for a number of years (see our Reports here!)
The event started with a plenary session where everybody gathered in the main hall to hear the schedule for the three days, a business update on Emerson and a technology update.
Delegates were welcomed by Francisco Diaz-Andriu, of Repsol, Spain and member of the Board of The Emerson Users Group. He has been active in automation in Spain for many years and was the founding president of the vibrant International Society of Automation (ISA) Spain Section, in which he is still active. He gave a preview of what attendees could expect during the three days. He outlined the work of the user group in the organising of the conference and the composition of the board. Needless to say they are always looking for new members to broaden the application expertese available to future events.
The Porsche factor!
Emerson’s European President, Roel van Doren, started with the first presentation talking about the company’s philosophy. A great company is a company that asks the right questions. Instead of, “What can we sell you?” or “What do you want to buy from us?” a great company asks its customers questions like, “What is your vision for the way your plant should operate?” or “How can we work together to solve your problems?”
This kind of collaborative approach to the customer relationship is the essential idea behind the strategic direction Emerson is taking. Taking his cue (excuse the mixed metaphor!) from one of the companies for which Stuttgart is famed far and wide, Porsche, he drew a comparison, “Like the pilot of a high performance race car you face many challenges that come in your direction at an ever increasing speed. And like a pilot, you must be able to react quickly to those challenges. You need to be able to fully trust the team that’s behind you. Our hope is that you will trust us to be the business partner that you can rely on, and that you will trust us to be part of your team. Because when the right people with the right technology come together, magic happens.”
The Chief Strategic Officer of Emerson, Peter Zornio, can always be relied upon to give an interesting presentation and this year proved no different. He spoke about the expansion of the Emerson offering from being merely process control towards an all-embracing monitoring of the entire operation, whether in the process area or in the peripheral areas within and without the premises. He introduced us to the iOps concept – Integrated Operations. As technology has developed so has it been possible to see what is happening in all areas of the plant – in real time. It calls for a clear, up-to-date view of what’s happening in all aspects of an operation. This assists in more efficiency, increased staff effectiveness and therefore more productivity. By using what they have named Pervasive Sensing they have adopted a policy based on the axiom “You can’t improve what you don’t know!” With this philosophy it is possible to prevent problems rather than react to them.
Later we had the opportunity to visit the iOPs facility set up on the Exchange exhibition floor where demonstrations were a big attraction.
Think for change
An entertaining keynote was given by Dave Beckman, a former marketing executive with Emerson and who now spends his “retirement” as a speaker to the process industry. He advocated thinking outside the box,not to be afraid to be on the edge. He also was optimistic for the future as countries suddenly realised that they ought to rely on their own resources.
|Emerson Exchange Daily
This is a nice 3min video from Nicolas Menet from the event entitled, “Final Control Valve Solution”
He cited the example of the United States which has changed almost beyond recognition. This has largely been the result of the technology which allows the extraction of shale gas. It has changed everything! Suddenly this huge country is again self sufficient in fuel. This is going to happen elsewhere too as the political situation changes due to economic circumstances. And things are changing to make previously unthinkable policies suddenly acceptable. Witness the effect of the Fukashima disaster! All nuclear power stationa are now being closed down in Japan and in Germany. What are these great countries to do for energy?
In some way it may be said that a person who attends one of these multi-thread conferences has a disadvantage over the person who is sitting at his desk following things on twitter. I did attend one or two of the sessions as well as the afternoon press conference at which details of new products and applications were given. Links to these may be found in the box.
The Exchange daily news was emailed to all who requested it on each evening and these gave an excellent resume of events.
But of course nothing can compare with the networking at these events. Now in the age of social-media, one knows a lot of people without ever meeting them. Conferences like this are an opportunity of meeting people whose tweets or contributions other social networking platforms you have been followed. This was no exception and besides meeting many European and American press people like Keith Larson of Control, Nick Denbow of Industrial Automation Insider and John McKenna of Process Engineering. We also had the chance to meet the very active, possibly the most active in automation, Emerson Twitter cluster including Jim Cahill, Chris Amstutz, Nick Taylor and, for the first time, Mike Boudreaux.
There was a social aspect to this as well and many hostelries in the city benefitted from delegates sampling Schwaebish cuisine. This correspondent and his companions for the evening couldn’t have had more praise for the Stuttgarter Staeffele – (Your restaurant for Swabian specialties!). German food has an ill-deserved reputation for being somewhat stodgy but a visit to this 40 year old restaurant will, without doubt, change any such preconceptions.
There was also a group event which was a visit to the Porsche museum to tittalate the little boy in many as they drooled enviously over these glorious machines made with such precision and care. There are over eighty vehicles on display. We are not sure how many orders were placed as a result of this visit!
• The next Emerson Exchange Users Exchange is scheduled for the Americas. It will be held in Orlando, (FL USA) from 6th to the 10th of October 2014. Maybe you’ll be there.