Vision, Roadmap Needed for Digital Transformation

 Moving the rest of industry to top-quartile performance represents a $1 trillion opportunity. “We see opportunities for improvement in four main areas: safety, reliability, production and emissions—which includes energy efficiency,” said Peter Zornio, chief technology officer, Emerson Automation Solutions. “We can imagine an ideal world, a digital nirvana with no injuries, no downtime, optimized production and leading sustainability with a digitally transformed workforce.”

Consultants and white papers talk about billions, even trillions of dollars. “That’s the fun part, extrapolating technology into ideal transformations, but how do you get there?” Zornio asked. “You need a roadmap from where you are today.”

Zornio spoke to attendees of a press conference this week at the Emerson Global Users Group Exchange in San Antonio.

“We can identify specific initiatives under each category—for example, in safety, digital nirvana would be zero injuries and zero incidents,” Zornio said. Initiatives could include removing employees from hazardous activities, constantly monitoring worker and plant health, and automated prevention and response of cyber and physical threats.

“But what to do? We put together a framework for how to build that roadmap,” Zornio added. “It starts by taking stock of your capabilities in each area—safety, reliability, productivity and energy, underpinned by your organization and technology.”

Companies can use an Emerson evaluation guide to assess themselves on a set of drivers and enablers to see where they have room to improve. Each driver and enabler has multiple dimensions of digital capability and opportunity. For example, MRO spares management capabilities range through six levels from basic to fully digital:

  1. Paper or spreadsheet for spare parts, maintenance, and calibration. Extensive overstock based on historic failure and gut feel for stocking requirements.
  2. Stock levels set based on historical usage.
  3. Accurate materials lists are established in the CMMS and linked to individual asset records. Stock levels set based on RCM/FMEA based maintenance strategies.
  4. Materials kitting for work orders is performed in advance of PM requirements to allow for just in time materials ordering as opposed to stocking.
  5. Repair materials are ordered based on predicted problems and estimated lead times for delivery.
  6. Enterprise spares processes are driven by digital monitoring. Predicted usage of high-cost parts used for materials and preordering of long-lead items.

When users have evaluated their business in multiple categories, they have a capability inventory of where they’re strong and where they need to improve. Many companies are strong in the production area because that’s where they’ve invested, in advanced process control, a full digital model, etc. But there are big opportunities in other areas. “You can do everything else, and still not have the part you need when you need it,” Zornio said. “Organizational effectiveness is often a weak area, where you measure collaboration, data sharing and the ability to use remote services.”

When users know their capabilities and have compared them with performance goals, then they can prioritize Investment by analyzing ROI, feasibility and resource requirements. “Then select partners with a proven track record for results that can help you reach your goals,” Zornio added.

Emerson has identified specific steps and technologies for each driver and enabler. “We have more than 140 value improvement practices (VIPs)—very specific things you can do that we know from experience will deliver value,” Zornio said.

Digital transformation is not the first time industry has called for IT and OT collaboration. In the 1990s, open systems technology came to process control. “That all worked itself out to stability about 10 years ago,” Zornio said. “Now, again, it’s very important for them to work together.”

Operations knows the “what,” IT knows the “how,” he said. “They come from different drivers, different ways to look at the business—day-to-day vs the technology.” For example, if a new regulation requires monitoring pressure relief valves, OT will want to know which valves, what sensors, and how to get the data into the system. “They may not even talk to IT until the end, when they realize they need to get information into higher-level systems,” Zornio said. “OT worries that IT will slow things down, IT wants to see a ticket, and doesn’t understand the importance of getting it done. The right way is to involve IT from the beginning because now, nothing can get done without IT.”

Emerson understands this and is “uniquely positioned to accelerate digital transformation success with proven results and an actionable roadmap,” according to Zornio. “We have more than 125 active or executed Operational Certainty workshops this year and 140-plus value improvement practices. We’ve delivered more than $1 billion in quantified value to customers.”

Partnerships like those with AspenTech, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell and OSIsoft include the IT world, Zornio said. “The magic happens when you get two people with different perspectives working together.”