Continuing Digital Transformations in Process Automation

Happy New Year and I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are recharged to accomplish even greater heights in 2016!

I wanted to share an extremely popular LinkedIn post, 2016: Digital Transformation by Emerson’s Jonas Berge. Posted just a week ago, it currently has over 9,800 views, 442 likes and 20 comments. I’ll share the opening couple of paragraphs and invite you to read the rest and offer your perspectives.

Emerson's Jonas Berge


My prediction for 2016 #BigIdeas2016 is that foundations for new technologies will be introduced but we will not realize their transformational nature during 2016 itself, not until decades later. In the meantime, in 2016, automation will continue its digital transformation based on wheel set in motion long ago. Here are my personal thoughts:

The Internet started in the sixties but it was not until the introduction of the World Wide Web in the mid-nineties that most of us could start reaping the benefits of the Internet, monetize it, and realized the fantastic possibilities of the technology which had been started decades earlier. Even Bill Gates himself in the 1995 book The Road Ahead at first didn’t realize that the Internet is The Internet (information superhighway): “Personal computers… and the Internet are all important precursors of the information highway. Each is suggestion of the future. But none represents the actual information highway” and “Today’s Internet is not the information highway I imagine, although you can think of it as the beginning of the highway.” Anyway, afterwards he redirected Microsoft’s focus on the Internet and released a second edition of the book.

I personally see much the same happening with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as well. IIoT is already here, since many years. When Foundation Fieldbus was introduced this was the start of the IIoT. We didn’t use the term IIoT at the time, but nevertheless that is how IIoT started; smart connected devices; autonomous embedded devices with unique identifiers for the first time communicating using a real-time digital network without the need for 4-20 mA. Several companies in the process industries such as many oil & gas companies immediately recognized the awesome potential of digital networking from the very first meter; from sensors and actuators. What they are so excited about is the ability of having more sensors using fewer wires, more measurements in every transmitter, with real-time status, the ability to freely add devices to a junction box ‘at will’ without having to run cables all the way to the I/O cards or add the I/O cards themselves, ability to monitor self-diagnostics in a valve from an office on the other side of the world, about the prospect to perform more diagnostics such as using the combined input from multiple sensors to detect the onset of cavitation in a pump or valve etc., the ability to put an indicator on the network to display values from transmitters and valves in inconvenient locations, or compute tank inventory or compensated flow from multiple sensors etc. The possibilities of smart connected devices within a plant are endless, and once a connection across the Internet is also provided even more value can be extracted from the functionality of these devices. Digital devices working together without the limitations of 4-20 ma and on-of signals. Anyway, not everyone shared this enthusiasm at the time, although now thanks to the all the attention IIoT is getting, the enthusiasm is spreading.

Read the whole post and share your thoughts and predictions!

Posted Monday, January 4th, 2016 under Industrial IOT, Wireless.

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