MAY-JUN 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 55

INTECH MAY/JUNE 2019 25 FACTORY AUTOMATION value of the applications. Achieving this involves goal monitoring and economic stewardship, knowledge management, management of change, and a value-versus-cost mindset around technology and capability refresh. No doubt this will have a significant cost. However, the value that it unlocks will be orders of magnitude greater, enabling sustainment actions to pay for themselves many times over. Our organization recently worked with a major multi- national oil company that was looking for a flexible, light- weight, and cloud-based solution to manage operating goals and constraints at its western Canada plants. It wanted to en- sure its assets were always operated according to best prac- tice, something it had struggled with due to a retiring skilled workforce being replaced by younger, less experienced staff. Embracing the digitalization concept, the oil company worked with our organization to adopt Operating Goals Man- ager™ (OGM) as a standard application delivered through a software-as-a-service model. The application allowed users to define measured variables and tasks as indicators. Each of these indicators contained company knowledge, such as reasons for the specific operating envelope; consequences for not addressing an excursion in a timely fashion; recom- mended actions to address an excursion; and stored com- pany procedures and documents. As a result, OGM is being used in four gas plants in west- ern Canada as a cloud service, tracking thousands of live in- dicators in real time and supporting hundreds of users. This is just one example of many where a digitalization strategy has helped improve overall operational excellence. Do not get left behind Digitalization creates and sustains competitive advantage and is one of the key strategies a plant can adopt in pursuit of opera- tional excellence. Despite this, many in the industry still remain confused or irritated by digitalization. Some feel it is merely an in- formation technology issue and do not understand its relevance for operations; some are frustrated by the plethora of buzzwords; some see it as hype and fail to see the value proposition. Digitalization leaders, however, see it as a holistic busi- ness issue and are already making huge strides forward in productivity, efficiency, flexibility, and agility. Those who do not realize the value digitalization has to offer risk being left behind. Failure to adapt and transform means that the magnitude of value being lost will continue to increase—the digitally wise will consume the laggards in the market. ■ ABOUT THE AUTHOR Duncan Micklem ( is the executive vice president, strategy and marketing at KBC, a Yokogawa com- pany. Based in Houston, Texas, Micklem's responsibilities include business planning, M&A/alliances, investment prioritization/cap- ital allocation, and marketing. Micklem has a degree in biology and geography from the University of Exeter, U.K., and an MBA from Cass Business School, U.K. View the online version at sloppiness in accuracy comes at a cost—the actual optimal so- lution is likely worth a lot more than a simply feasible solution. Rigorous models will always find the best answer. Always. OPERATIONAL EXECUTION Being ready, situationally aware, and mak- ing the right decisions only guarantee suc- cess with efficient and effective operation- al execution. Digitalization compresses time horizons, which means not only do- ing the same thing faster, but becoming liberated to do completely new things. The more encompassing the decision, the longer it takes to make and the more economically and organizationally im- pactful it is, and for a longer time. A wise business decision may reap rewards for years, whereas a poor business decision may have long-term costly consequences. Automation, on the other hand, by its inherent nature, makes decisions very quickly based on very recent limited data. The scope is typically much more contained, and the automation actions can be suspended or terminated quickly. So, the more informed and timelier the decision process be- comes, the more likely the decision will be good, the quicker it will be to execute, and the easier it will be to course correct. Digitalization accelerates information flow, increases the power of analytics, and automates much of the execution, which greatly condenses the decision/execution time horizons, allowing strategic business decisions to be made in real time, and the results to be visible and available almost immediately. The tools of operational execution (advice-based open- loop actions, closed-loop control, procedural automation, and closed-loop optimization) start with best practices. Replicating poor or average business processes in a digi- tal environment does not ensure delivery of superior results. The focus should be on acquiring best practices to execute the organization's work, and thereafter on finding the digital means to institutionalize automation of as much of each of these processes as possible. VALUE SUSTAINMENT Digitalization is typically not a one-time hit, where the benefits are achieved and stay forever. Unless proactive steps are tak- en, benefits will almost always decline over time, and the opportunity to capture in- cremental benefits will diminish too. This happens for a number of reasons: ● the economic basis for the solution changes ● goals change ● plant performance changes ● business priorities change ● focus by people (management, engineers, operators) changes ● technology changes. Our approach to sustaining digitalization value entails go- ing above and beyond compliance with how new digital ap- plications are implemented. It is an approach where there is a clear sense of ownership by the organization, especially the front-line operators, through recognition of the added

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of InTech - MAY-JUN 2019