IA Insider: Wireless Technology Emerson Drives Ahead on CHARMS and Wireless Innovations

Author / Editor: Nick Denbow / Dominik Stephan

Emerson witnesses a record margin: With sales going up by 15 percent, profits of US $ 4.2 billion could be achieved. But what is the secret behind this tremendous success? According to Nick Denbow of Automation Industry Insider its the company's commitment to wireless and safety technology.

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Travis Hesketh: “There must be backward standards compatibility” (Picture: Emerson/IA Insider)
Travis Hesketh: “There must be backward standards compatibility” (Picture: Emerson/IA Insider)

Industry Automation Insider is an UK independent subscription newsletter, providing industrial measurement and control systems users and suppliers with a monthly update on the continuing evolution and convergence of systems technologies. Now PROCESS Worldwide features interesting highlights from Nick Denbow, editor of IA Insider.

The Emerson Group results for the year to 30 September 2011 continued their upward path, with their 55th consecutive year of an increased dividend per share, sales up 15% at US $ 24 billion, and operating profit up 21% at 17.5% of sales, a record margin compared to all of the past 40 years. This is for a business that has the main divisions of Process Management and Industrial Automation, together providing over 50% of total group sales. The group return on capital is now 19.6%, and 59% of sales are outside the USA. Bob Sharp, president of Emerson Process Management Europe (including Eastern Europe and Russia) expanded on these figures at their European press conference last month, explaining that his European sales were US $ 1.5 billion, or 21% of the total Process Management business ( US $ 7 billion). After a dip in Process Management orders during 2009 and 2010, the intake globally, and for Europe, had risen substantially in 2011. With over 8000 employees, a significant network of manufacturing centres, and approaching 100 sales and service offices, the Process Management commitment within Europe was said to be considerable.


Innovations in Wireless Technology

Travis Hesketh, vp for Emerson Process Management, plus wireless and PlantWeb director for Europe, presented two recent innovations in technology, to explain “the sort of things that Emerson are doing to help our customers be more successful, and to address the big problems that they have in front of them every day”. For six years Emerson have used their “Human centered design in automation” approach to understand these issues, to understand the jobs and the tasks they think their customers have to face on process plants, and make these easier to do. The issues customers face have developed and changed, particularly in these uncertain times, and now plant availability and resource efficiency have become more important, as well as energy use and monitoring.

Hazardous Area CHARMS

The first innovation offered by Hesketh was the intrinsically safe version of the CHARMS intelligent interface modules for hazardous area use, as discussed at the Emerson Exchange, and in the INSIDER last month, page 8. CHARMS is designed to reduce the wiring complexity on plants, the engineering work and the documentation needed, so reducing project timescales and improving plant availability. But Hesketh also stressed the savings in resources by having remote CHARMS units in the field, connected to the DCS via a single Ethernet cable, and the indication was that there would be Zone 2 approved housings for such intrinsically safe module equipped CHARMS outstations available shortly.

Perhaps to stress the European links and input to the Emerson development projects, Hesketh also pointed out that the intrinsically safe technology embedded in these new CHARMS modules had indeed come from an active and co-operative relationship with Pepperl + Fuchs, using their acknowledged expertise in hazardous area protection systems.

Flame Proof Protection Dates Back to 19th Century

Earlier, Hesketh had demonstrated another example of technology transfer, by showing that the concept of flameproof protection had in fact started with the Davy miner’s lamp, first used in coal mines in around 1815. Apparently the example shown in the photo below had been used by his father, some time ago, although not quite dating back so far. In contrast, the rather fetching black and yellow ATEX certificated intrinsically safe LED torch from ecom instruments www.ecom-ex.com presented to the members of the press for use should they ever find themselves in anywhere approaching Zone 0, was produced in 2010, and gave a much better light.