Virtual Q&A: How to Overcome Industrial Challenges with Automation

At the Emerson Exchange in Brussels April 12-14 we will be exploring the topic of Operational Excellence and how it can be used to help you become a top quartile performer. If you are attending Exchange, please visit us in the Projects & Business Zone, beside Project Certainty, to meet with our experts & participate in the conversation.


For those unable to attend the Exchange in person, we will be including Emerson Exchange 365 community members in the conversation through this forum. Participating in this virtual Q&A  can help you better understand how automation and the use of automation information can help you overcome industry challenges.


To learn more about the Operational Excellence Framework,  check out  this  Emerson Process Experts blog. Your responses in this forum, will help shape the conversation at Exchange. To participate in the virtual Q&A, please reply to this forum thread & answer one or more of these questions:


1.       In your role as it relates to process automation and instrumentation, what is the greatest challenge that you face?

2.       Describe a way that automation/information might help you overcome the challenge.

3.       What is the largest obstacle that automation/information poses?


Bookmark this thread. We will provide daily updates of the conversation on April 12, 13 & 14 that include both forum responses & live responses from Exchange. You can also use this forum thread to pose questions for Emerson subject matter experts on the topic of Operational Excellence.

Thank you for taking the time to provide your input.


Kind regards


Scott Turner

Senior Consultant 

8 Replies

  • Anonymous
    Greatest challenges we face:

    1. We are in the process of bringing all of the plant controls over to DeltaV from legacy systems. One of the challenges we face is with keeping DeltaV up to date whilst still transferring plant over.
    2. We do not use any design houses when doing projects. Therefore the documentation and technical drawings are not reflective of the actual plant. We have to visit the site to get accurate information.
    3. The plant is an aging asset which still uses relays to drive motors and has pneumatic controls. There is a real mixture of technologies on site. We also have issues with corrosion on the acid plant.

    How automation can help overcome challenges:

    1. The modern consolidated control system has more built in intelligence. This has enabled us to solve and address long standing problems on the plant which was not possible before.
    2. The DeltaV system provides better visibility on what is happening on plant. It also alleviates some of the problems with inaccurate documentation.
    3. Fault finding the aging asset is easier due to the diagnostics capability of our system.
  • Anonymous
    1. In your role as it relates to process automation and instrumentation, what is the greatest challenge that you face?
    The greatest challenge is ensuring that information required for decisions; is correct and delivered in a format that can easily be understood with minimal human intervention.

    2. Describe a way that automation/information might help you overcome the challenge.
    Intuitive solutions that enhance or replace existing processes that delivers the information to the correct part of the Business at minimal cost. This should not be done is it has been in the past where all field data is routed though the DCS which increases costs and creates a bottle neck.

    3. What is the largest obstacle that automation/information poses?
    Integrating or getting better co-operation between IT and Control Systems Departments to ensure that data can flow smoothly and safely across multiple systems. Currently there is a grey area in supporting cross department projects. Also educating stakeholders as to what is possible verses what has been done before.
  • Anonymous
    1. Greatest challenge is doing more with less- less budget, less experienced people, less time to get things done
    2. The 'smarts' available in modern automation provides the tools and analytics to potentially help this challenge
    3. But to leverage these 'smarts' the obstacle is to recognise the need to change work practices. Once this is recognised, the next obstacle is to figure out exactly how to do this and what's the best way for each difference circumstance/plant
  • Thank you all for your posts. Today we will add your posts to the whiteboard we have set up (I will attach a photo of it later) in the Business & Projects Zone. These will help us shape the outcomes from todays Operational Excellence exhibition. If you wish to talk to someone directly at Emerson to discuss your challenges and how Operational Excellence can help address them please drop us an email at Operational.Excellence@Emerson.com.

    Kind regards

  • Ok, another quick post from me this morning. I just wanted to do a quick recap on yesterday...

    As you can imagine the exhibition centre was a buzz of activity with everyone putting the finishing touches to the their demonstrations and zones. A lot of the people who are attending the event from Emerson (it is not open to the customers on Monday) spent some time catching up with old friends, meeting new friends and having a sneaky preview at the demonstrations.

    Today we will be getting ready for the press attending the exhibition early afternoon and one of the Ambassadors will (I think) be making a video explaining what Operational Excellence is. Watch out for this. Later on in the afternoon the floor will open to visitors and we are hoping to get a really good snapshot of the challenges that people face in their professional lives right now. We will be looking to collect as many challenges as we can and group them into automation themes. I will post the results of this onto this blog later.

    Kind regards

    Scott Turner

  • Emerson Exchange Operational ExcellenceIt was a really good day at the Exchange yesterday. We managed to have some excellent discussions with customers around operational excellence and get a good snapshot of the challenges that our customers face. The most common challenges which we were told about were related to either workforce enablement or reliability. The area of workforce enablement is clearly an emotive and important topic.

    In terms of reliability the points were often about moving from a route based maintenance position to a condition based maintenance position. The posts associated with work force enablement were a little more diverse and I would like to share a few with you.

    1. Working in a more collaborative manner
    2. Alignment of the different organisational layers
    3. Limited workforce skills
    4. Difficulty making decisions based on the current available information
    5. The collision of the IT world and the automation world

    Wall of Comments on Operational Excellence

    I would like to share with you a story from the exhibition yesterday. I was speaking to an end user automation manager about Operational Excellence. I explained the Operational Excellence model and how our Ambassadors can support our end users in achieving their business objectives and improving the way they operate their site. We went over to the whiteboard and begun to talk about the challenges that they face and if we could help them. I explained that we could and would be happy to support them. The end user then surprised me by asking how we manage the relationship with Emerson. It was then my turn to surprise him, I explained to him that we ARE Emerson. Stay tuned for more Live updates from the Emerson Exchange conference on the topic of Operational Excellence...

    Kind regards, Scott Turner

  • Exchange is now over. I will provide a full recap of the exciting conversations that were had around Operational Excellence early next week. Stay tuned...

  • In reply to scottjturner:

    During the first day that the Exchange was open we collected information from visitors on the challenges that they face in their professional lives. The points that the visitors raised were grouped on a like for like basis and a title was decided upon for each group.

    The titles determined were as follows:

    • Management & Organisational Alignment

    • Data Management & New Business/Work Processes

    • Aggressive Project & Investment Demands

    • Energy Efficiency & Emissions Reduction

    • Maintaining & Developing Workforce Skills and knowledge

    • Rate of Technology Change & Managing Obsolescence

    • Global Competition & Low Cost Producers

    • Equipment Reliability & Plant Available

    During the second day of the Exchange these titles were written on the whiteboard and the visitors were invited to leave notes explaining how they thought that automation may help or hinder the challenge.

    These can be seen on the photo of the whiteboard above. There are a number of interesting findings that we can infer from the whiteboard. The first is that the impact of automation on workforce skills and knowledge is considered to be negative. The major concerns are that operators lose their knowledge of the plant and that the confidence in the operators and technicians in the plant operation is reduced. This, I imagine, is because more of it is in the control of the automation systems and they do not always understand what the automation system is doing.

    Equipment Reliability & Plant Availability is seen as being positively impacted automation (the only negative note raised is actually positive). Predictability of equipment failures was a major positive for reliability and non intrusive instrumentation is understood to have had a big positive impact on plant availability.

    The other challenge which automation can have a big positive impact on is Energy Efficiency and Emissions Reduction. Energy Management Systems and Advanced Process Control can lead to energy utilisation and emissions reductions and provide more efficient operation.

    On the final day of the Exchange the visitors were mainly internal Emerson visitors who wished to gain a better understanding of Operational Excellence or customers who had booked into one to one sessions with Emerson to help understand how Operational Excellence can help them. If you wish to discuss how Operational Excellence can help you meet your business drivers and overcome your challenges email us at Operational.Excellence@Emerson.com

    Kind regards


    Scott Turner

    Senior Consultant