Emerson Exchange ’14: Leaders tout risk-reducing technology applications

By PRAMOD KULKARNI
Editor-in-Chief

ORLANDO, Florida -- “We will focus on applying technology to solve real-world problems,” said Steve Sonnenberg, Executive Vice President, Emerson, and President, Emerson Process Management, at the inaugural session of the Emerson Global Users Exchange. 

“While there is no lack of challenges, our focus will be on reducing project risk, increasing reliability and uptime, and helping address a skills shortage.”

Emerson Exchange is an annual, private event that provides an opportunity for Emerson customers to interact with subject matter experts, learn about industry solutions through technical presentations and visit technology exhibits.  Since starting in 2009 with 1,678 delegates, the conference has grown to host 3,200 delegates from 57 countries, according to Sean Brady, Chairman of the exchange.

With conference theme as “Inspiring Ingenuity”, Sonnenberg started his presentation with an explanation of the achievements of three inspirational figures—Philo Farnsworth, one of the inventors of television; Grace Hopper, developer of the first computer compiler; and Martin Cooper, who helped invent the cell phone.

Speaking of project risk, Sonnenberg said risk has grown in recent years through bigger and more complex projects. “There are more ways for things to go wrong, with just the oil and gas industry building four times more projects requiring capital investment of $1 B or more.” Some of the risk reducing technology applications from Emerson that Sonnenberg mentioned included smart wireless technology, plant automation, and the availability of more than 5,000 project personnel from Emerson.

“Downtime costs our industry more than $20 B annually,” Sonnenberg admitted. “Some of the technology tools in this area include a consulting approach to reliability, pervasive sensing to gain insights into reliability issues, and having the right parts and products on hand.” Sonnenberg said Emerson has invested in global infrastructure to have half of its product portfolio available off-the-shelf and offering one-day emergency shipments.

“Lack of right project management and skilled staff can cause up to 26% of the project delays,” said Sonnenberg, speaking of the growing skills shortage. “Solutions include customized, online training; embedding technology experts in the field, and application of integrated operations centers to allow SMEs based in central offices to provide their expertise to remote sites.”

The Emerson Exchange continues until Friday, October 10, with technical presentations and exhibits relating to industry solutions across four tracks: solve and support, operate and manage, measure and analyze, and control and regulate.

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