We’re going to use IIoT to drive top quartile performance for our customers, says Amit Paithankar, MD and V-P, Emerson Automation Solutions India.
Says Amit Paithankar, Managing Director and Vice President, Emerson Automation Solutions India, in conversation with R Srinivasan.
Comment on the need for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and on how you intend to leverage the early mover advantage to your benefit.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an evolutionary concept, as opposed to something new. There is a lot of talk about it but in some sense it has been in existence for quite some time. Some important changes have happened now, which enable us to go and serve customers in interesting and different ways.
The fundamental notion is that “things” are connected and measure data. This measured data is then fed to an algorithm which interprets and makes sense of the data. On the basis of these interpretations, the system will initiate actions. This in a very broad sense is the construct of IIoT.
Our mission is give our customers access to the fourth quartile of performance. Top quartile ensures that I have a business which is sustainable in the long term, profitable and will keep giving returns to its shareholders on a regular basis. Naturally that is where all our customers would like to be. The parameters that determine top quartile performance are safety, reliability, productivity and energy efficiency and emissions. If I can improve these parameters for my customers I will progressively keep getting better and my customers will have a business model which is more sustainable. So that’s how we are going to use this whole concept of IIoT – to drive top quartile performance for our customers.
Emerson Electric (EMR) signed an agreement to purchase the valves and controls business of Pentair (PNR) for $3.15 billion and Emerson announced an agreement to sell Network Power to Platinum Equity. What effect will these developments have on your automation business?
With time, Emerson is evolving and we are concentrating on the core parts of business and automation solutions is a very important piece of the business. The Pentair acquisition is in the automation space. The acquisition of Pentair valves and controls will be part of our final
control business, which essentially deals with valves and actuation devices and we will then have the most comprehensive suite of valves and that would put us in a unique position across the industry. We will practically have a valve for every possible application you can conceive of and almost every size that you can think of – right from control valves, valves used for isolation purposes, valves used for maintaining pressure. So therefore it has a direct and positive impact on the way in which we can comprehensively serve our customers.
Should we be worried that the Kessler effect threatens the future of the internet itself? What are the serious technical challenges and barriers such as security framework that threatens the internet etc and how does the company intend to address these challenges?
Talking about the data that we are trying to protect, at the bottom level of IIoT we have a whole suite of instrumentation, which we collectively call as ‘pervasive sensing’ so we can measure many physical parameters like pressure, temperature, PH, conductivity, flow rates, densities, viscosities, all kinds of physical measurements which are required to understand whether a given plant or factory is working fine. Most of these devices are also wireless. In a traditional internet at home we are concerned about last-mile connectivity.
But in an industrial framework where we are actually putting data in to where it can be analysed, what is important is the first mile. And that first mile has to be secure and so we have a design or architecture which we call ‘secure first mile’. So we have data diodes, different types of gateways, different kinds of security enabled equipment and firewalls which ensure that the data that comes out is transmitted in the most secure manner. Diodes are electronic components which allow current to flow only in one direction so we call it a ‘data diode’ which can only go in one direction. If we try to attack it the network is not going to allow you to send data back in to the field. That is how the architecture is designed.
Some companies while gearing up for the internet of things choose different paths towards digitisation. Some reinvent themselves while others stay close to their roots. What approach are you employing?
We consider IIoT as an evolution as opposed to a revolution. There is a lot of buzz and hype but it is a technology which has been there for some time and it is morphing over a period of time and is giving us interesting ways in which we can conduct business to help our customers. So from our standpoint it is a very important technology which has come of age at this point of time and which enables us. For instance if a customer has expertise only in a given particular city and has plants all over the country or world, and as time progresses you find experts to be few and far in between. So how do I tap in to those experts who may be within their organisation or outside their organisation and quickly take operational decisions which help in doing the exact things I spoke about - safety, reliability, productivity and energy efficiency and emissions. That is what IIoT enables.
So I can securely get the data out and send it to apps, or I can send it to a mobile platform after interpreting that data or send it to a cloud where a third-party could look at it in a neutral manner. For e.g.: In a process plant there are many pipes and we need to use steam which runs all over the plant. If there is a leakage in the pipeline anywhere, there are devices called steam traps. Every time the steam leaks, energy is lost. If I can use a device (an acoustic transmitter) which is tuned to understand that frequency of sound, I will know that there is a steam leakage and from its signature I will figure out the problem and in what manner it could be rectified or we could send that data to a cloud and have our experts look at that on a real-time online basis and tell the client that this steam trap is not working properly. That way on a real-time basis we are monitoring the customer’s asset and that is where we unleash the power of IIoT.
As per think-tank McKinsey Global Institute estimates, linking the physical and the digital worlds via the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) could create up to $11 trillion in economic value annually by 2025 and a third of that could be in manufacturing. Comment on this phenomenon (in terms of value addition and in figures) in your sphere of activity.
Indian customers have been the early adapters of technology and that is why it is the first country we have launched this in across the world. We had a global launch in Austin, Texas under the Emerson Exchange programme and this is the first country after that, which speaks volumes about the type of customers we have here (very progressive) and the sheer market size.
Comment on how the sector in your sphere fared in 2016.
2016 has been a good year for us in terms of overall growth in a global market that is struggling to grow. That in itself paints India as a bright spot across the world.