Emerson wants to score points with more consultation — The global economy is booming, and after the years of crisis the oil and gas industries also seem to be back in play. This is the time when digital transformation is bringing companies in the process industry to new challenges that should lead to further reductions in costs and complexity — the perfect framework for this year’s Emerson User Exchange Meeting in The Hague, which attracted 1,600 participants this time.
The Hague/The Netherlands — Happy faces were to be seen among the organisers of this year’s Global User Exchange Meeting by Emerson Automation Solutions in The Hague. This year, 1,600 participants from 52 counties found their way to the Dutch political capital on the North Sea coast — almost twice as many as in Brussels two years ago.
And the programme was impressive: 160 presentations on various fields of applications, together with training sessions and a host of new appliances, technologies and software tools presented by Emerson and 25 partner companies on an exhibition space some 5,000 square metres in size.
Emerson developed into a problem solver for its customers some time ago. At least that is what Roel van Doren, European boss of the US automation enterprise, believes. As a partner, one enters into a commitment vis-a-vis end users in the process industry to reduce complexity and costs on the customer side as much as possible, and at the same time to accompany the process of digital transformation. At Emerson, the project goes under the name “Operational Certainty” and is part of an overriding strategic customer project called “Top Quartile Performer”, a rather awkward name for German ears. Hidden behind this project is no more and no less than an ambitious promise to raise customers to the level of 25 % best-performing enterprises in their respective segment — including potential savings amounting to millions. Mary Peterson, Senior Strategy & Technology Leader at Novartis, already established earlier why it’s worth tackling the oncoming challenges among this circle of users. Peterson is on the four-man Board of Directors team who helps shape the programme from the angle of end users every two years.
The motto of this year’s event, “Connect, Communicate, Create”, was also a good choice, believes BASF chief purchaser Dirk Reinelt. During a plenary lecture, Reinelt again showed why BASF, a world market leader in the chemistry segment, is considered a trailblazer of digital transformation. With total revenues of 64.5 billion euros, the Ludwigshafen-based company invested 13 billion euros in technology and logistics in 2017, about half of the amount payable for raw materials. In other words, a lot of potential to boost company performance with automated and digitalised processes in future. For this, BASF has identified seven core technologies of the digital revolution that also significantly influence its own BASF-4.0 strategy. They include augmented reality, 3D printing, mobile end devices and the Internet of Things or Industry 4.0, plus artificial intelligence, big data analysis and cloud computing.
For this, open systems, modular plants, standardised elements and a convergence of IT and OT systems are required, stresses Reinelt. The BASF manager was able to convince his audience about his heat exchanger, developed virtually and printed with 3D technology, just as he was able to please them with the news that BASF is the world’s first global chemicals enterprise to market its products in China via the e-commerce platform of Alibaba. However, not every company has communicated digital information as a corporate strategy so clearly as the chemical world market leader from the banks of the Rhine. In many enterprises, Reinelt perceives a major gap between the private and professional use of digital technologies. “Why do we use digital services for private purposes much more than in our workplaces?”, he asks. This just does not fit, he says.
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