Modern Process Control Imperative for Digitalization

For chemical manufacturers, what business performance improvements are possible by executing a digitalization strategy?

In a Chemical Engineering article, Digitalization Founded in Modern Process Control Strengthens Chemical Operations, Emerson’s John Dolenc shares the technology components in executing this strategy.

Chemical Engineering: Digitalization Founded in Modern Process Control Strengthens Chemical OperationsJohn opens describing the performance improvement opportunities, such as:

…improvements in throughput, product quality and reduced processing costs that increase overall profitability. Digitalization can also reduce costs by improving raw material yield, decreasing maintenance costs per unit volume of production and reducing working capital within the supply chain.

He grounds the reader in where to start. This includes a clear business purpose and company leaders driving the change. A clear purpose:

…sets the information that needs to be collected from the process units versus collecting thousands of indiscriminate data points.

Much of the information needed for executing the digitalization strategy already exists in the instrumentation, control system and plan data historian. For most plants, this has been limited to what is just required for control. But often, measurements are missing to be able to improve safety, reliability, energy & emissions, and production.


…a few non-control measurements completes the data requirements to feed the analysis tools and calculate financial performance. Obtaining these new measurements is an excellent application for wireless instrumentation.

The phrase “edge computing” popularized in the IT community has been a part of control systems for a long time. Edge computing:

…can be performed in the process control system, either within a modern distributed control system (DCS) or in an application station. Edge computing can even be accomplished in “smart” field devices, where strong analytical tools reside to monitor device health.

Making decisions on information to improve operational performance is best done at the automation level of the information architecture:

…rather than a centralized location, such as the ERP… because real-time process performance information is the basis for operational optimization.

Given the importance of the control system in this information architecture, a modern control system is critical.

The modern control system capabilities, such as flexibly adding measurement inputs, using advanced process control strategies and easily modifying control strategies, are key to capturing and implementing performance improvements.

Read the article for more as John shares examples of digitalization activities for logistics and supply chain improvements as well as safety, security and environment performance improvements.

Visit the Modernization & Migration section on for more on services and solutions to help have the modern technologies required to execute projects and programs in your digitalization initiatives. You can also connect and interact with other control system modernization and digitalization project experts in the Services and IIoT & Digital Transformation groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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