Bob Bender explains Emerson’s Automation and Performance Evaluation
Emerson’s evaluation “takes a wholistic look at plant performance, rather than just the controls,” Bender said. “Sometimes what appears to be the problem isn’t the problem after all.”
Emerson’s assessment methodology starts with understanding the client’s business objectives and then performing a plant assessment and benchmarking study. If the client wants to go forward, Emerson then does a strategy plan formulation, develops metrics, processes, resources and technology; works with operations and maintenance to implement and validate the changes, and installs a continuous improvement loop back to metrics, processes, etc.
I asked Bender, Dasch and Snowden if this meant that in order to get the benefit of continuous improvement, you have to hire Emerson to babysit the process…it is well known that improvement projects have no steady state. They ramp up, and when the vendor leaves, they ramp back down again. “Absolutely not,” said Tom Snowden. “In fact, we do our best to teach the operations staff how to keep the program, and the continuous improvement loop, going,” Dasche said.
“So, it isn’t like The Man Who Came to Dinner, eh?” I asked.
“No!!” Bender replied.
Bender showed a slide that talked about the evaluations, and when I noticed that this slide wasn’t in the handout, I asked Joyce Dasche for it. She said that she was worried that her competition would use it to Emerson’s disadvantage. I can’t see how. Organizational development and project management theory has been around since Peter Drucker (may he rest in peace) was a young sociologist, and before. All Emerson is doing, really, is to implement what we have all said we ought to get around to doing someday. Joyce agreed, and gave me the slide.
The Evaluation Focuses on Key Areas of Plant Performance
- Controllable parametersUnit availabilityUnit maneuverabilityHeat RateEmissionsStartups
- Operator cultureGraphical user interfaceAutomated operator guidanceAlarm managementPlantwide systems integration
- HistorianPerformance calculationInformation accessibilitySystems IntegrationDecision support tools
Application Design Philosophies
- control equipmentcontrol designAutomatic sequencingSafety shutdownTag outThird party device interface
Application of Advanced Control and Optimization Software
- Combustion and emissions optimizationIntelligent SootblowingAdvanced steam temperatureAdaptive self-tuning
- InstrumentationDrivesValvesAsset Management
- Spare parts inventoryPreventive maintenanceSoftware backupsSystem securitydocumentation controlSoftware levels and migration plantroubleshooting toolsCMMS integration
Bender went on to show slides that showed how a particular utility stacked up against industry-widely-accepted KPIs.
He then showed a slide that quantified expected performance improvement, based on those same KPIs.
Then he showed a very interesting slide entitled, “Compares Your Current Operational Practices to Industry Average,” that had a lot of KPIs in the red, and very few in the green.
The recommendations Emerson makes are prioritized into “high priority recommendations” and “strategic recommendations.” Emerson stays away from low cost- low benefit projects. “Plants,” Bender noted, ” are often distracted by low cost projects that don’t provide a whole lot of benefit, either.”
Hearking back to what Joyce Dasche said earlier, Emerson clearly front-end-loads their recommendations to provide a nearly immediate big bang for the buck– which ensures they will be invited back for the next phase.
CONTROL has Emerson very well trained (evil grin). They even provided us with the famous “three quotes from end-users!!”
“Emerson’s plant performace assessment gave us an in-depth and objective look at our operations and revealed how Cayuga stacked up against similar plants in the US. They identified specific opportunities for improvement allowing us to establish our priorities and put together a very clear roadmap on just exactly how we needed to move this plant forward over the next three to five years.” Jerry Goodenough, Cayuga Plant Manager, AES
“Within days of getting the report from Emerson, we were able to provide justification for the funding we needed. The report made it quite clear what steps we needed to take, and which projects would provide the earliest and biggest rate of return.” John Seeliger, North Valmy Maintenance Manager, Sierra Pacific Power Company
“Having Emerson validate the process control improvements gained from each unit helps to pave the way for Cooperative board approval of planned improvement projects. It also helps to facilitate financing for multiple year improvement programs.” Torry Wise, Controls Coordinator, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative
Implementation and Validation have to be very close coupled. Torry Wise noted, “We need to see if we really got what we paid you for.”