Reducing Complexity to Connect People with Useful Information

Let’s close the week with a peek at a new whitepaper from Emerson’s DeltaV team, Emerson Process Management’s Human Centered Design Philosophy: Conquering Complexity. The team is led by DeltaV brand manager, Rune Reppenhagen. The intent of this human-centered design (HCD) focus is to eliminate unnecessary work, to reduce the applied technology’s complexity, and to embed knowledge into the technology.

The advancement of technology has made advanced predictive diagnostics possible in process manufacturing facilities. The challenge is to focus this wealth of information into actionable insights for the plant operators, engineers, and maintenance staff. The whitepaper shares several examples of how products were redesigned with the three HCD tenants in mind.

AMS Device Manager has added Profibus DP device configuration and diagnostics capabilities. Work steps were eliminated to get these diagnostics into control systems like the DeltaV system. Profibus drives & motor starters and their associated diagnostics are part of the system and can be incorporated into control strategies, alarm strategies, and historical data collection. The past practice has been to hardwire or use serial connections to connect these devices. Engineering was then required to map the data into landing areas in the control system. This hurdle meant this integration was often not done. Through the HCD process, the steps were analyzed and ways to reduce the complexity incorporated.

Another example shared in the whitepaper is integrated machinery protection. Most plant turbomachinery and other rotating equipment often give advanced warning when problems develop. These warnings occur through changes in vibration levels and frequencies. Even if the machinery is instrumented with vibration and other monitoring sensors, the engineering challenge has been to bring this information into the control system to provide operators and maintenance personnel these early warning signs. By taking an HCD approach, the AMS Machinery Manager and DeltaV technologists mapped the existing process to integrate information between the DeltaV system, AMS Machinery Manager software and CSI 6500 Machinery Health Monitor systems.

Existing methods required more than 30 setup and configuration steps for each signal for an operator to see. Multiplying by the number of signals and the number of pieces of equipment it was apparent what a difficult task this was. The complexity was reduced by having the AMS Machinery Manager scan the CSI 6500 for what was available. An engineer then selects the appropriate parameters and alarms for the operator to be able to see and with which to interact. This file is then imported into the DeltaV system where the control modules and function blocks are created.

There are more examples including turbomachinery diagnostics via AMS Asset Portal powered by Meridium, DeltaV S-series hardware and I/O on Demand, and more. The common thread with all these developments was an analysis of current practices with an eye to eliminate unnecessary steps, reduce existing complexity, and embed the expertise of specialists into something that can be easily used–without requiring a mountain of engineering to climb over.

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