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9:20 am
October 25, 2016
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Emerson Delivers New IIoT Solutions

Emerson announced at the Emerson Global Users Exchange in Austin, TX, that it is working with Microsoft to help industrial manufacturers realize the business impact and value of Industrial Internet of Things with Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem and Connected Services, powered by the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.

Plantweb supports Emerson’s vision to help customers leverage data, technologies, and best practices to improve reliability, safety, energy management, and overall operational performance across the enterprise.

The company is broadly adopting Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT technology, in its DeltaV and Ovation control systems and in data gateways, for local data processing and to serve data to Azure IoT Suite. The Azure suite provides Emerson with a scalable and secure cloud application environment as part of its Plantweb digital ecosystem. Plantweb provides the technology and service framework for the company’s Operational Certainty program, a strategic approach to help customers break free from stagnant financial performance through adoption of industry best practices and advanced technologies.

Oil and gas, refining, petrochemical, and other companies can leverage their existing investments in instrumentation sensors and communication infrastructure to power new applications to improve reliability, energy management, and safety. The new offerings mark an important step in Emerson’s vision to provide its customers those applications deployed as IIoT services, without the need for in-house domain experts.



1:47 am
October 25, 2016
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More on Top Quartile Companies

Move to the Top Quartile and realize these benefits.

Move to the Top Quartile and realize these benefits.

The benefits enjoyed by Top Quartile companies were one of the primary subjects addressed at an afternoon press conference held at Emerson Exchange (Oct. 24 to 28, 2016, Austin, TX). In his portion of the conference, Mike Train, exec. vice president of Emerson Automation Services, described Top Quartile companies with these four characteristics:

  • Link strategy to business objectives
  • Demand a culture of accountability
  • Embed expertise in work processes and applications
  • Optimize [operations] with real-time data.

One of the most-telling stats is that Top Quartile companies cut their maintenance costs in half while enjoying a 4% increase in availability (uptime).

What’s the price for sub-optimal performance?—$1 trillion in lost company value on an annual basis.

Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer illustrated why companies fail to operate in the Top Quartile with a quote from an operations manager he met: “We’re staffed to run, not staffed to change.”

Behind that quote are three factors that prevent movement to the Top Quartile:

  • Outdated practices developed prior to advances in technology
  • Risk aversion
  • Constrained resources (skills/capital).

He suggested that companies can break free and move toward the Top Quartile by using automation and IIoT technology (Industrial Internet of Things). Those are two tools that most companies fail to exploit. Only 5% of companies have an in-depth IIoT strategy for improving plant equipment reliability and maintenance. ROI is the biggest challenge to IIoT adoption for 57% of companies and 32% cite funding as a significant roadblock. Emerson’s PLANTWEB system/services are designed to help companies overcome these roadblocks and move toward the Top Quartile.


12:35 am
October 25, 2016
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Flick on Leading at Emerson Exchange

Emerson Exchange keynote speaker Tom Flick (tom

Emerson Exchange keynote speaker Tom Flick (tom

Former NFL quarterback Tom Flick was the keynote speaker at the Emerson Global Users Exchange, held Oct. 24 to 28 in Austin, TX. His presentation, “Leading in a Changing World,” focused on the difference between leadership and management. According to Flick, effective management doesn’t move things forward. Managers simplify complexity and keep things functioning as designed.

Leaders, on the other hand, create and communicate vision and strategy, remove barriers, obtain buy-in, and motivate action. They create an environment that allows innovation, opportunities, and growth.

He identified two challenges that hold back leadership:

  • Complacency: An environment in which people think what they are doing is just fine.
  • False Urgency: Frenetic and generally unproductive behavior that results in burnout, exhaustion, and relentless change.

The reverse is True Urgency in which people come to work each day determined to seize real opportunities and avoid real hazards. Their goal is to win that one day.

He suggested that everyone start out each morning with a list of one to three (no more than three) opportunities that will ensure you win the day. Couple those with one to three dangers/hazards that prevent winning that day.

Flick’s tips for successful leadership:

  • Push frontiers—seize the big opportunities
  • Exercise your ethics—live your principles
  • Unleash energy—lead the way.

In closing, he offered an opportunity to download leadership-oriented documents that will help you succeed. Download them at


5:36 pm
October 24, 2016
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Schneider Electric Expands Process-Solutions Biz through Acquisition of Applied Instrument Technologies (AIT)


screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-20-07-amSchneider Electric (Foxboro, MA) has announced the acquisition of Applied Instrument Technologies Inc. (AIT), a provider of online process analyzers for the hydrocarbon, petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, and steel-making industries.

Building on a partnership the two companies established in 2015, the deal boosts an already robust Schneider Electric process-solutions portfolio that includes Foxboro plant instrumentation, Foxboro and PlantStruxure PES process-automation systems, Modicon PAC systems, and Triconex safety systems.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-21-46-amBased in Upland, CA, AIT has an installed base of more than 1,000 systems and an extensive lineup of spectroscopy and chromatography solutions, including process analyzers and associated implementation services. According to the company, its offerings improve process optimization, asset protection, and compliance with environmental regulations, allowing users to better manage and improve their operational profitability. Through the combination of AIT’s technologies and Schneider Electric’s Foxboro Evo process automation and I/A Series distributed control systems, sites will be able to leverage the power of seamless advanced process analysis and control.

Company leaders have noted that the AIT acquisition improves Schneider Electric’s competitiveness and its ability to deliver broad, multi-stream, multi-component analytical systems with less project risk and execution time. Moreover, as single-source provider of the combined portfolios, Schneider Electric will be able to offer additional flexibility in terms of pricing, positioning, and packaging of its process-automation solutions.

AIT and its technologies will be fully integrated into Schneider Electric’s process-automation business and continue to be managed by its existing executive team. The integration is expected to be finalized in late 2017.

For more information, CLICK HERE.



2:36 pm
October 24, 2016
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Top Quartile Benefits

At the 2016 Emerson Exchange, being held this week in Austin, TX, the company introduced Operational Certainty, their next area of focus. A cornerstone of the effort is guiding companies to become Top Quartile operations. Why?

Top Quartile companies are:

  • safer, experiencing 3% fewer incidents
  • more reliable, realizing 4% higher availability
  • productive, cutting 20% of their operating costs
  • efficient, reducing emissions by 30% and energy consumption by 15%.

Overall, Top Quartile companies realize a 15% improvement in earnings.


9:40 pm
October 21, 2016
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Industry Heavyweights T.F. Hudgins and Allied Reliability Merge

T.F. Hudgins Inc. (Houston) has announced a merger with Charleston, SC-based Allied Reliability Inc. According to the two companies, their merger combines the domain expertise and resources of industry leaders that are focused on improving the reliability and performance of a broad range of high-value assets operating in a variety of applications. Customers, in turn, are expected to benefit from an expanded portfolio of hardware, software, and value-added services.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-4-12-14-pmFounded in 1947, T.F. Hudgins provides a portfolio of engineered products and services that improve the reliability of high-value equipment. Its primary end-markets include midstream oil & gas, petrochemical, refining, and other process industries.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-4-10-08-pmAllied Reliability Group delivers best-in-industry operational reliability solutions, including condition monitoring, electrical services, consulting and training, staffing, and integrated product solutions for commercial and industrial manufacturing industries.

Jay Burnette, CEO of T.F. Hudgins, will lead the combined company  “We are extremely excited to bring our two companies together for the benefit of our collective customers, employees, and stakeholders,” he said. “This combination will accelerate our growth in the expanding equipment-reliability space, particularly with a much broader condition-based monitoring and advanced diagnostics offering. We believe this will create significant value for our customers.”

John Schultz, CEO and founding partner of Allied Reliability, emphasized the importance of joining forces with another organization that shares the same commitment to reliability. “We have built our business on listening to and understanding our customers’ needs, and delivering superior technical capabilities,” he commented. “With the combination of our two companies, we will be in an even better position to drive innovation and deliver exceptional value to the global reliability community.”

T.F. Hudgins is a portfolio company of The CapStreet Group, a Houston-based private equity firm that invests in owner-managed, lower-middle-market companies headquartered in Texas and surrounding states, with a particular emphasis on companies in the greater Houston area.

Allied Reliability is a portfolio company of Pfingsten Partners, an operationally focused private-equity firm with headquarters in Chicago and and representative offices in ChangAn, China, and New Delhi and Chennai, India. Since completing its first investment in 1991, Pfingsten has raised five investment funds with total commitments of approximately $1.3 billion and acquired 114 companies.


8:32 pm
October 18, 2016
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Schneider Electric Speeds, Simplifies Utility-Operator Decisions with Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for Power Generation

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-1-28-45-pmNews from the Schneider Electric “Maximize Return on Assets” Users Group Conference in Chicago this week includes today’s announcement on the release of Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for Power Generation. Built on the company’s Avantis PriSM platform, the product helps utility operators minimize outage disruptions, improve cross-department collaboration, and increase operational agility.

According to the Lake Forest-based manufacturer, this Asset Performance Management (APM) solution can drive safer, more reliable, and sustainable operational efficiency while providing a digital framework to transform business value.

How It Works
Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for Power Generation provides a closed loop performance management framework to let decision makers contextualize real-time performances across their fleet, perform causal analysis of any non-conformity, and then create a template of the resulting knowledge for later use, thus reducing downtime from future non-conformity incidents. Part of Schneider Electric’s comprehensive Enterprise APM platform, it bridges skills and process gaps with smart technology, by combining advanced predictive analytics with knowledge management, and decision support to maximize asset availability. Schneider Electric notes that the solution offers a simplified and enriched data-analysis and reporting framework, delivered by way of a single user interface with an integrated flow of intelligence. By digitizing operations and decision-support knowledge, power generation operators have new opportunities to transform their businesses along with their workforce.

As Doug Warren, vice president, Industry Solutions at Schneider Electric, explained the new offering, “Power-generation operators must increasingly operate with greater collaboration across departments, driving a need for a single version of the truth across stakeholders and an ability to better manage information across multiple systems, people, and processes.” Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for this sector, he said, enables information-sharing by connecting multiple systems with context to ensure process rigors are followed in terms of ownership, which ultimately simplifies collaborative decision-making.

Schneider Electric notes that it has worked closely with utility providers to deliver reliable power to homes and businesses since the end of the 19th century. Predictive Asset Analytics Suite builds upon that knowledge, adds subscription-model pricing options, and is bundled with a comprehensive Customer FIRST maintenance and support program. As a result, power generation operators can incorporate intelligent information into their processes and digitize that knowledge to achieve and sustain operational excellence.

To learn more, CLICK HERE.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2016 “Maximize Return on Assets” Avantis User’s Group Conference runs through Wed., Oct. 19, at the Loews Chicago Hotel. For information on upcoming Schneider Electric Software  events, including the company’s “Empowering the Mobile Workforce in Process Industries” conference in Houston (Dec. 5-7, 2016), CLICK  HERE.



3:13 am
October 16, 2016
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Festo Opens Logistic & Assembly Operations Near Cincinnati


The manufacturing and distribution (assembly and logistics) operations at Festo’s recently opened Regional Service Center in Mason, OH, (RSC Mason), near Cincinnati, are within a day’s drive (10 hrs. by truck) of 70 % of the company’s North American customers. (Photo: Festo AG & Co. KG)

(Photo: Festo AG & Co. KG)

Festo’s recent opening of a 225,000-sq. ft. Regional Service Center (RSC) in Mason, OH (near Cincinnati), is said to have tripled capacities of the pneumatic and electric-automation giant.

Among other things, the $70-million state-of-the-art distribution and manufacturing (logistics and assembly) facility features a highly automated order-picking system, that, according to the company, is not only unique to the North American manufacturing landscape, it’s as sophisticated as the warehouse systems that keep today’s top retailers up and running. With a storage capacity of 65,000 bins, RSC Mason has seven high-performance picking stations and the capability to pick and pack 1,000 items per hour. The new operation allows for increased flexibility and speed, improved services, and plenty of space for future growth, while supporting Festo’s continued expansion in the NAFTA market (U.S., Canada, and Mexico). All of this seems well in line with a company that refers to itself as “the engineers of productivity.”

In addition to its investment in the new RSC, Festo U.S. is also continuing to increase its distribution network and sales force that, along with the Mason operation, will support ongoing industrial growth in Mexico, a market that’s fast becoming a heavyweight in the automotive sector. The site, in fact, has Foreign Trade Zone status, making it faster and more efficient for the company to support customers across the U.S. Canada, and Mexico from a central location.

Essential: Staying Close Customers
Festo has made it clear that its decision to locate the RSC in Mason wasn’t made lightly, but rather to help optimize the supply chain. While a major factor in the site selection was the region’s wealth of talent (thanks to a number of technical schools and colleges), its efficient highway systems, several airports, and the nearby, expanded DHL distribution facility were also strong selling points.

The result of being located in this “heart” of North American industry, explained Yannick Schilly, head of Product Supply NAFTA and RSC Mason, is that “we will be closer to our customers.” That’s something Festo considers essential. (As an example, the company is pointing to the fact that 70% of the North American customers for its thousands of different products, including drives, motors, controllers, valves, sensors, and other systems and components, are now within just a day’s drive [10 hours by truck] of the new facility.)

Another Essential: Technical Training/Workforce Development
RSC Mason is also home to the Festo Learning Center and a recently created two-year Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program (MAP2). The program is an initiative of Festo Didactic (the company’s technical training arm) in partnership with Sinclair Community College and five companies in the Cincinnati tri-state area (Art Metal Group, Clippard Instruments, Festo Inc., MQ Automation, and Nestlé). Built on the German apprenticeship model of dual education wherein participants learn in a classroom and while holding a steady job, the program’s mission is to help employers develop skills that are missing in today’s workforce by combining theoretical education with hands-on and on-the-job training.

The current (inaugural) MAP2 class includes 11 apprentices. Each week, they spend one day in classes at Sinclair Community College classes, one day at the Learning Center in Mason using state-of-the-art equipment, and three days working in their respective employers’ operations. This process and schedule allows them to take what they learn in class, practice it at the Festo Learning Center, and then use their new knowledge and skills in real-life work environments.

About Festo
Festo AG is a global manufacturer and independent family-owned company with headquarters in Esslingen, near Stuttgart, Germany. It supplies pneumatic and electrical-automation technology to 300,000 customers in over 40 industries. Festo’s products and services are available in 176 countries. For more information, CLICK HERE.