Archive | August, 2007


6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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Utilities Manager: Challenge The “Rear-View Mirror” Approach To Energy Management


Christopher Russell, Principal, South River Facility Management

We’re all familiar with the monthly budget review meeting. This is when the general manager sits down with department heads to compare the latest month’s financial results to the organization’s operating budget. A common, well-intentioned business habit, it also has the potential to be quite damaging. That’s because the actual-to-budget review process focuses on the past at the expense of the future. Much like trying to steer a car by looking in the rear-view mirror, it is a big reason why organizations often fail to take meaningful control of their energy costs.

While the organization as a whole attempts to make money, department directors are primarily concerned with spending money for materials, labor, utilities, support services and the like. The monthly budget review is a discussion of variances—particularly those instances where spending is on a pace to exhaust funds before the end of the fiscal year. Top management provides annual performance incentives that focus on this year’s budget outcomes, not those of future years. Thus, a preoccupation with this year’s budget may be at the expense of potential savings that can accrue for years to come.

While history typically provides useful insight, it also can obscure future potential. Consider the following “rear-view mirror” approach to moving forward.

Let’s say a facility has yet to adopt energy-efficient technologies, behaviors and procedures. This means that it habitually buys more energy than is actually needed, because waste is built into its operations. The budget account for energy, then, is inflated to accommodate these inefficiencies. For example, energy losses add up to about 40% of the total energy delivered to U.S. manufacturing facilities as a whole. Stated differently, the typical manufacturing facility must inflate its energy procurement budget by a factor approaching two-thirds to account for energy that is both used and wasted.

A possible solution
Break down annual energy expenses into two separate line items. One represents the value of energy that actually will be applied to perform useful work. The second line item represents energy that will be wasted. How do you allocate energy expenditures into these categories? The answer is to conduct an energy audit that thoroughly evaluates energy inputs, uses, losses and potential consumption improvements. While industry averages are generally helpful, the most reliable indication of any single facility’s energy flow depends on a proper energy audit—the more thorough the better. Without distinguishing between energy applied and energy wasted, department directors often conclude that they “don’t have the money for energy improvements.”

The account for energy waste (a budget artifact directly related to past performance) is, in reality, an account from which energy improvements should be budgeted. The energy waste line item also brings attention and urgency to the issue at each and every monthly budget review.

Managers can use the “energy waste” account to either MAKE energy savings or BUY energy that ends up being wasted. Dollars from the “energy waste” account are devoted to energy improvement projects when the cost to save a unit of energy is less than its purchase price per unit. This is one line item that actually forces managers to look forward, and not in the rear-view mirror, when planning energy consumption. UM

Updated weekly, Christopher Russell’s energy management blog can be found at

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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Utilities Manager: Fanning Up Energy Savings With Adjustable Speed Drives

How you modulate or vary the flow of your fan systems may be hurting your bottom line. This author runs you through important calculations.

Fans are designed to be capable of meeting the maximum demand of the system in which they are installed. Quite often, though, the actual demand varies and may be much less than the designed capacity.

fan_fig1The centrifugal fan imparts energy into air by centrifugal force. This results in an increase in pressure and produces airflow at the outlet of the fan. An example of what a typical centrifugal fan can produce at its outlet at a given speed is shown by the curve in Fig. 1. This curve is a plot of outlet pressure in static inches of water versus the flow of air in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Standard fan curves usually will show a number of curves for different fan speeds and include fan efficiency and power requirements. These are useful for selecting the optimum fan for any application, and are required to predict fan operation and other parameters when the fan operation is changed.

fan_fig2The system curve in Fig. 2 shows requirements of the vent system on which the fan is used. A plot of “load” requirement independent of the fan, it indicates the pressure required from the fan to overcome system losses and produce airflow. The intersection of the fan and the system curve is the natural operating point. It is the actual pressure and flow that will occur at the fan outlet when this system is operated. Without external influences, the fan will operate at this point.

Many systems require operation at a wide variety of points. There are several methods used to modulate or vary the flow (or CFM) of a system to achieve the optimum points. These include:

  • Cycling (as done in home heating systems)—This produces erratic airflow and is unacceptable for commercial or industrial uses.
  • Outlet dampers (control louvers or dampers installed at the outlet of the fan)—To control airflow, they are turned to restrict the outlet, thus reducing airflow.
  • Variable inlet vanes—By modifying the physical characteristics of the air inlet, the fan’s operating curve is modified, which, in turn, changes airflow.
  • Variable frequency drives (VFDs)—By changing the actual fan speed, the performance of the fan changes, thus producing a different airflow.

By changing the airflow or the fan speed, the system or fan curves are affected, resulting in a different natural operating point—and, possibly, a change in the fan’s efficiency and power requirements.

fan_fig3Outlet dampers
The outlet dampers affect the system curve by increasing the resistance to airflow. The system curve can be stated as:

P = Kx (CFM)2

P is pressure required to produce a given flow in the system
K is a function of the system that represents the resistance to airflow
CFM is the airflow desired

fan_fig4The outlet dampers affect the K portion of this formula. The diagram in Fig. 3 depicts several different system curves indicating different outlet damper positions. Note that the power requirements for the type of system shown in Fig. 3 gradually decrease as flow is decreased (as shown in the Fig. 4).

Variable inlet vanes
This method modifies the fan curve so that it intersects the system curve at a different point. A representation of the changes in the fan curve for different inlet vane settings is shown in Fig. 5. The power requirements for this method decrease as airflow decreases, and to a greater extent than the outlet damper (as shown in Fig. 6). Variable frequency drives (VFDs) The VFD method takes advantage of the change in the fan curve that occurs when the speed of the fan is changed. These changes can be quantified in a set of formulas called the affinity laws.


N = Fan speed
Q = Flow (CFM)
P = Pressure (Static Inches of Water)
HP = Horsepower

Note that when the flow and pressure laws are combined, the result is a formula that matches the system curve formula – P = K x (CFM)2.


Substituting (Q2/Q1)2 for (N2/N1)2 in the first equation gives us:


fan_fig6The quantity P1/(Q1)2 coincides with the system constant, K. As depicted in Fig. 7, this means that the fan will follow the system curve when its speed is changed. As the fan speed is reduced, a significant reduction in power requirement is achieved (as shown in Fig. 8).

The variable speed method achieves flow control in a way that closely matches the system or load curve. This allows the fan to produce the desired results with the minimum of input power.

Energy savings
Clearly, not all methods for modulating or varying flow are appropriate for a given fan system. How can you be sure that the method you are using is the right one? More importantly, how can you be sure it is the most efficient? Whatever your chosen method is for modulating or varying flow, it may be easier than you thought to estimate its power consumption and associate a cost of operation with it. To accomplish this, an actual load profile and a fan curve are required (as shown in Figs. 9 and 10).

The following simple analysis of the variable speed method compared to the outlet damper method shows how energy savings are calculated.

Using the fan curve in Fig. 10, assume the selected fan is to be run at 300 RPM and that 100% CFM is to equal 100,000 CFM as shown on the chart. Assume the following load profile.


fan_fig7For each operating point, we can obtain a required horsepower from the fan curve. This horsepower is multiplied by the percent of time (divided by 100%) that the fan operates at this point. As shown in the following table for the outlet damper method, these calculations are then summed to produce a “weighted horsepower” that represents the average energy consumption of the fan.


fan_fig8Similar calculations are done to obtain a weighted horsepower for variable speed operation. However, the fan curve does not have enough information to read all the horsepower values for our operating points. To overcome this problem, we can use the formulas from the affinity laws.

The first point is obtained from the fan curve. 100% flow equals 100% speed equals 35 HP. The flow formula Q2/Q1 = N2/N1 can be substituted into the horsepower formula, HP2/HP1 = (N2/N1)3 to give us:


When Q1 = 100% and HP1 = 35 HP, Q2 and HP2 will have the following values:




As shown in the following variable speed method table, we now have sufficient information to calculate the weighted horsepower. Comparing the results of the two methods of control indicates the difference in power consumption.

In order to obtain a dollar value of savings, the kilowatt-hours used must be known. To calculate this, multiply the horsepower by 0.746 and then multiply the result by the hours that the fan will operate in a period of time. This would typically be for a month. Your results would look like the following example table at the bottom of the page.

This simple example shows a cost saving of more than $700 per month by using a variable speed method. Note that the example is very basic and does not consider motor and drive efficiency. Still, many organizations would consider that amount of monthly energy savings on a single fan system—or anything close to it—to be significant. Would yours? UM


Sharon James is an application engineer with Rockwell Automation. E-mail him directly at:

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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Leveraging Best Practices For Overall Peak Performance


Rich Padula, President and CEO, Syclo

Leading maintenance repair and operation (M.R.O.) organizations are leveraging a range of best practices for optimal asset performance. Such methods encompass maintenance best practices that drive efficiencies and equipment life cycles, as well as cost-cutting ideas from allied industries like field services.

Efficiently run field service teams have, for years, used and benefited from automated scheduling applications that deliver the right service tech to the right location at the lowest cost. They have cut wasteful travel and duplicate visit expenses to complete more service calls that better serve their customers and extend asset life.

Conversely, asset managers are well aware that more work order information and background, with more details, in the hands of technicians at the point-of-performance is a key productivity driver that means improved equipment performance. Data captures reported electronically also are driving better decision-making by management, in addition to fueling accurate and timely compliance reporting.

Schedule smarter/work smarter
Asset managers can cut costs and improve productivity by borrowing a page from their brethren in the field service world and exploring automated scheduling tool options. Smarter scheduling will cut unnecessary foot traffic, improve first time fix rates and cut costly overtime.

Field service teams can improve performance and customer satisfaction by examining the best practices of the asset managers and put in-place applications that deliver more data to their techs where they need it most, at the job site.

Working smarter with more data improves performance, cuts replacement part outages and costly return trips. Documenting the trends A study by the AberdeenGroup research analysts entitled “The Convergence of Field Service and Asset Maintenance” illustrates the best practices leading organizations have embraced.

“Ensuring that the proper information is available at the time and point of service, through deployment of mobile technology, is a key strategy Best in Class organizations are using to address service improvements,” wrote co-authors Micky Long, research director, Strategic Service management, and Sumair Dutta, research analyst, Strategic Service Management. “Nearly 92 percent of Best in Class firms surveyed either have in place or plan to implement systems that will provide technician access to job orders, status, schematics and parts availability via mobile devices.”

The report also highlights the importance of such factors as systematic performance measurement, proactive asset monitoring, RFID technology and implementing automatic scheduling processes to achieve “Best in Class” performance.

Demonstrating the value
At Syclo, we are seeing organizations using a combination of mobile technology to deliver data to their techs and sophisticated scheduling products to realize sustained operating savings and improved asset performance. This new convergence is helping organizations move toward best practices that:

  • Replace time spent on paperwork with wrench time.
  • Automate work schedules and better adjust and assign work-in-progress as conditions and needs change.
  • Use the added completed tasks to move from predominantly reactive to majority preventive work and even reliability-based maintenance operations.
  • Improve tech productivity by arming them with job plans, asset repair history, replacement part availability and more.

Recognizing the value of these best practices— and embracing them—is allowing more and more proactive organizations to optimize their field service and asset management capabilities. In the process, they are improving their bottom lines.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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From Data To The Decision: Journey For The Entire Enterprise


Jack Bolick, President of Honeywell Process Solutions

From the field to the control room, a manufacturing plant is a mountain of raw data. With countless monitoring devices dispersed throughout the plant, harvesting that data is no problem. Turning that data into the right decision, though, can be difficult. Wrong decisions can lead to downtime, and downtime means lost revenue. It’s easy to see how those decisions directly impact success in the manufacturing industries.

Faster, more accurate decisions
In today’s rapid business environment, operators must answer growing demand by making decisions faster and with more accuracy than ever— all while taking the necessary precautions to ensure plant safety. As the speed of production continues to increase across the globe, manufacturers need greater and faster access to the data within their plants. The way we at Honeywell Process Solutions see it, the winning strategy will not lie solely in information-gathering field devices or distributed control systems, but rather a complete solution geared around gathering, analyzing and delivering vital information to critical personnel throughout the plant.

Taking data, extracting knowledge and using it to make the correct decision is a process that must include advanced solutions, business applications, control systems and field devices working as a single unit—a true global enterprise. This complete system can funnel the most important data to the right people, whether it’s the control room operator, the facility manager or even a corporate executive.

Future solutions now
The latest advancements in industrial wireless technology are an example of how this globalenterprise strategy is possible. Innovative wireless solutions provide much-needed access to data in areas previously unreachable in the plant. This expands the process control network and improves safety, reliability and efficiency—the three key factors that can help plants avoid unexpected downtime.

0807_io_data1Take an aging tank farm with 40-year-old wiring. Replacing that wiring with a wireless solution that includes temperature and pressure transmitters, flowmeters and other metering devices allows control room operators and field personnel to continuously extract data and monitor assets. Safety is improved as the system helps ensure that levels don’t overrun, asset monitoring applications allow operators to stay on top of equipment problems before they cause damage and the staff works more efficiently overall. You’ve just added value to an existing operation.

And that is only a basic example. Companies that expand wireless networks across entire facilities can tie in safety shutdown and security systems. They also can feed that information to advanced applications like MES. The result? Production schedules are planned more effectively, operators improve processes, maintenance staff is more efficient and—ultimately—profitability increases. The concepts of open systems and increased interoperability, therefore, play crucial roles in determining which manufacturers take the competitive lead in today’s market.

The overall solution results in improved equipment reliability and unit availability, higher sustainable capacity and more profitable yields. Meanwhile, more efficient operations, less maintenance, lower inventories and reduced quality giveaway drive production costs down.

With so many moving parts, it’s clear that the journey from data to decision cannot be made in an informational silo. It requires a bigger picture of the entire plant that only a complete global enterprise solution can provide.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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Increasing Workforce Efficiency With Smarter, Easier-To-Use Tools


Barbara Hulit, President, Fluke Corporation

It’s no secret to any of us working in industry that significant change is taking place in how we do business and manage resources. Never before have so many industry leaders announced initiatives to become not just leaner, but also greener. To compete globally, industry needs to increase production, lower the cost of doing business and decrease energy consumption. As a result, greater emphasis is being placed on maintenance, which in turn is driving a need for advanced, more sophisticated maintenance technologies.

Our customer interactions and market research confirm that Maintenance Professionals are expanding their test and measurement skills through education and making greater use of technologies that were once considered “too complex.” In some cases it’s thermal imaging used for frontline troubleshooting; in others it might be power quality. By adding new measurement options, Maintenance Professionals can more quickly deduce problems, even those that are highly complex. The result is a significant reduction of downtime and increased productivity in operations and maintenance.

Driving advanced technologies
At Fluke, we are helping to drive the use of these advanced technologies in two significant ways. First, we focus on making smarter tools that are easier to use. Each year we spend thousands of hours talking with and observing industrial Maintenance Professionals. Then, we work with them to take the complex and simplify it; to transform difficult-to-use test and measurement technology into an intuitive tool.

0807_efficiency1Second, we provide extensive educational resources, from hands-on seminars to trainer materials to a library of online application notes. We partner with apprenticeship programs, trade schools, community colleges and universities to champion electrical measurement safety and to donate test tools to education programs of all levels.

Thirty years ago, only bench techs and engineers had digital multimeters. Now they are as common to an industrial technician as a tape measure is to a carpenter. Increased use of variable speed drives led to the development of a combination oscilloscope and multimeter to accurately measure output. Most recently, we’ve seen the market for thermal imagers expand dramatically, with new technology offering accuracy and resolution at a quarter of the cost in just three years. Now, a technology that was once out of reach for most industrial technicians is fast becoming a standard tool that quickly, and easily, detects problems in mechanical and electrical systems.

Energy management opportunities
We also are offering new technologies to help our customers manage energy consumption. New power loggers measure energy consumption, allowing facility managers to re-align their loads and energy usage to take advantage of times when energy costs less. One customer reported an estimated 87.5% savings in the cost of one load. New HVAC and indoor air quality tools similarly allow facilities to reduce HVAC energy costs (often the highest energy consumer in a facility).

Test and measurement tools are also an integral part of new energy resource development—wind, solar, hybrid. The parameters may change, but the need for highly accurate measurements provided by simple, durable test tools will only expand. The course for industry is apparent—those who embrace and celebrate change, will succeed as the global marketplace expands opportunities.

We see tremendous potential in helping people become more efficient in their work, by offering them new, easily available and simple-to-use technologies. We intend to be the indispensable partner our customers continue to rely on.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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It’s Really A No-Brainer: “Green” Is The Color Of Money


David C. Orlowski, President and CEO, Inpro/Seal Company

At Inpro/Seal, we view the “greening” of the process industries in general, and the maintenance function in particular, as one of the biggest challenges and profit opportunities currently facing our customers. Lean, efficient manufacturing operations are a vital part of the day-to-day concerns we face at Inpro on a daily basis—we know it’s the same throughout the industries we serve.

There are various ways to qualify as being “green” in the process industries. For example, you could buy and install a 1.5 MW wind turbine for about $1.2 million. You could cover a football field with solar panels and hook it up to the grid. Or, you could install 1000 non-contact bearing isolators in the place of 1000 contacting face or lip seals in your rotating equipment. Bearing isolators are permanent and effective bearing protection devices that consume very little, if any, electrical power—and they last almost forever.

0807_io_green1Contact seals each consume about 147 watts of electrical power while they are temporarily sealing the bearing enclosures of pumps and other rotating equipment. Thirty eight (38) million rubber lip seals are produced for industrial use each year for pumps, gearboxes, fans, paper machine rolls and other types of rotating equipment.

Most electric motors, even NEMA Premiums, leave the factory without any effective bearing protection at all. Rewinding them after an alltoo- early bearing failure is an energy-intensive process. IEEE-841 motors are just as efficient as the NEMA Premiums and last twice as long, because they are inherently bearing-protected by means of non-contacting, compound labyrinth bearing isolators.

“Green” numbers don’t lie
Interestingly, being “green” doesn’t necessarily cost a lot of “green.” For each megawatt saved by supplanting contact seals with bearing isolators, you can count on bringing $680,000 to the bottom line of your operation. At least one bearing isolator company now offers a three-year participation contract to supply isolators free of charge up front and then collect one-half of the net savings derived from their use in your plant. If there’s no net savings, there’s no charge to you. It’s a no-brainer!

Each megawatt of electrical power we conserve eliminates 2000 pounds of carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas—from being spewed into the environment. A ton here, a ton there of additional CO2…pretty soon we’re talking about the possibility of real irreparable harm to the earth’s environment.

“Green” comes in several shades
Being green may be easier and more economical than you once thought. It isn’t all about carbon trade-offs and hybrid cars, however. It could be energy conservation in an industrial-process or productivity in manufacturing. You may or may not agree with the scientists who are concerned with the man-made component and the acceleration of the amount of CO2 in the environment. Perhaps you’re more aligned with those who blame natural phenomena, such as intensity of the sun or storms and flares on its surface, for the rise in the earth’s average temperature over the last decade.

In any event, conservation of electric energy— however it is derived—is a noble and profitable undertaking in industry, because net monetary savings drop unimpeded to the bottom line. In turn, a more profitable enterprise is a more secure and hospitable environment in which to do life’s labors.

So, just how “green” would you like to be? It’s your move.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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Considering Your Lubricants As Part Of The Bigger Picture


Lee Culbertson, President, Royal Purple, Ltd.

Proper lubricant selection and management is one of the greatest challenges facing any fast-paced process or manufacturing operation these days. Thus, it’s more critical than ever for end-users to think of lubricants as “investments” in reliability and efficiency—not as “commodities.”

“Excellence” is key
Lubricant performance can vary greatly between competing mineral and competing synthetic oils. Because these quality differences directly and significantly impact the ultimate cost of operating and maintaining a plant’s rotating equipment, lubricant purchases cannot be effectively managed as a commodity. Lubricant “excellence” is what must be purchased—always. That’s because even the most effective lubricant management practices cannot impart properties to a lubricant that it doesn’t possess.

0807_io_royal_purpleUpgrading to proven, advanced lubricant technology produces cost savings that routinely exceed the total cost of the product. The following example illustrates how substantial the typical savings can be compared to lubricants that simply meet the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

Calculating the payback
Let’s look at the operating costs for plant with 36,000 electrically driven horsepower (HP), operating 8000 hours per year at a $0.05 kW/hr power cost. Given annual energy costs of $12 million and annual rotating equipment maintenance costs of $3 million (which includes $90,000 in lubrication expense), lubricant purchases are only 3% of the maintenance costs and only ¾% of the energy costs. Though conceptually accurate, expense ratios will vary from plant to plant.

Historical data supports that upgrading a broad population of equipment to advanced high film strength lubricants can be expected to produce energy savings greater than 3% while reducing the need for equipment repair by at least 30%. Furthermore, though superior lubricants cost more per gallon, the annual cost for lubricants changes little due to greatly extended drain intervals and the elimination of oil changes associated with equipment repairs.

To put the return-on-oil investment into perspective, this example calculates the annual total savings from upgrade efforts to be $1,260,000. That includes:

  • Annual return on oil investment of 1400%
  • 90-day ROI based on energy savings
  • 37-day ROI based on maintenance savings
  • 26-day ROI based on combined energy and maintenance savings
  • Annual Energy Savings of $10.00 per HP
  • Annual Maintenance Savings of $25.00 per HP
  • Even a total elimination of current lubricant costs would produce insignificant savings compared to the savings routinely attained from upgrading lubricants.
  • A BASF model estimates that for each dollar saved in maintenance, $3.00 to $7.00 in economic benefits accrue to other areas via improved quality, inventory reductions, energy savings, safety and increased uptime. For this example, that amounts to $2.7 million to $6.3 million.

Most cost savings initiatives intended to reduce maintenance costs and improve rotating equipment reliability are very time-and-peopleintensive. At Royal Purple, we know that it is very common for a company to achieve significant improvements and cost savings by simply replacing a product that it already buys and uses. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2007
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Confronting The Workforce Crisis Through Improved Asset Reliability


Peter Zornio, Chief Strategic Officer, Emerson Process Management

Today, as process automation facilities face a shrinking skilled workforce, the need for plant asset reliability is more important than ever. Organizations can tackle this challenge and ensure efficient plant operations by implementing three steps that will lead to the improved collection and use of new and better data.

1. Create an integrated environment. Use data collected across all assets in a digital plant architecture (including mechanical and process equipment, instruments and valves) to improve asset health and production performance. By tying the production results to the assets themselves, decisions about how to best manage production can be improved and the decision process simplified.

0807_io_reliabilityEven in existing facilities, technology upgrades can replace inefficient interfaces with more seamless operation, establish critical information relationships and automate work processes to free staff resources for use where they are most valuable. Integrating asset management information into computerized maintenance management systems makes it easier to prioritize maintenance, allowing for more efficient staff time use.

To reap the benefits of an integrated environment, organizations must change their daily work practices. Without a predictive maintenance approach, they’ll end up working twice as hard for limited results.

2. Utilize the latest wireless infrastructure and technology. The emergence of an open standards-based field wireless infrastructure for monitoring plant assets allows for increased reliability despite staffing and resource reductions. This dramatic technology breakthrough gives organizations the ability to create early warning systems that provide predictive diagnostics from previously inaccessible areas giving a deeper, more comprehensive view of asset health. Assets that were once physically impossible or too expensive to reach with wired technology now can be tapped to pull in new, real-time data. Installation costs are as much as 90% lower than those of a wired network. A self-organizing wireless mesh technology is highly reliable and secure. That’s a requirement for challenging plant environments.

3. Augment existing resources with expert services. Since plant staffs already have their hands full, organizations that implement the previous two steps should ensure their success by going one step further, drawing on the specialized experience and skills of a knowledgeable partner. Outside expertise can augment an organization’s existing knowledge base and provide the additional “arms and legs” needed to take on these initiatives.

The right ally will have a full range of experience to collaborate with staff on wired and wireless digital systems infrastructure and the execution of integrated asset management and process control across the enterprise. Such an ally also can offer the best services and expertise to ensure work processes are properly adjusted to reap the full benefits of these efforts.

In the view of Emerson Process Management, the challenge posed by a diminishing pool of skilled labor is an important but not insurmountable one.

Process manufacturers can employ integration practices and new technology to better collect and use plant data. In doing so, they should seek help from the right partner, one with the broadest perspective and expertise, to lay the foundation for continued success in a changing environment.

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