An Interview with Ryan Lee, Business Development Manager at Emerson Automation Solutions

IIoT: Future of Factory Automation and Beyond


About Ryan Lee: Ryan Lee is the business development manager for fluid controls and pneumatics solutions at Emerson. He supports customers within the food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, water and wastewater industries. He has more than 12 years of experience in the factory automation space.



About Emerson:

Emerson is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial and residential markets. Our Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. 


1. What are the current solutions offered by Emerson for factory automation and how does the company help the industry?

Emerson is a global provider of technology and engineering services that help manufacturers meet their toughest challenges and bring predictable success. We have the industry’s broadest portfolio of automation technologies to help customers measure, control, optimize and power their operations. We also have the experience, expertise and global presence to help design and implement solutions that meet the most demanding application requirements.


With increasing demand for larger and more complex fluid control and pneumatic systems, Emerson is ideally positioned to deliver the required innovation, reliability and speed demanded within this evolving marketplace. Our engineers create industry-leading solutions and offer a range of support services that help to maximize customer operational efficiencies and generate measurable performance improvements across a wide array of industries and applications. These include automotive assembly and component manufacture, tire press, and production lines and packaging and filling applications within the food and beverage industry.


2. What are some of the current demands on the industry and how can IIoT help meet them?

Manufacturers are increasingly focused on making improvements that: 

  • Increase reliability, for example by doing predictive maintenance

  • Improve sustainability by reducing emissions and energy consumption

  • Optimize production and productivity

  • Reach desired safety levels without compromising productivity


To achieve these performance goals, manufacturers are increasingly looking to undergo a digital transformation and implement new technologies and cultural changes within their organization. The food and beverage sector, as an example, is one of the industries that has embraced IIoT technologies. Manufacturers already have stringent controls in place throughout their process to ensure consistent quality and safe production. By installing automation technology with IIoT capabilities, customers are now monitoring all equipment and the whole production process. This is providing greater insight into energy consumption and losses, equipment health and machine performance.   With food and beverage production, the distribution control system and SCADA system has provided an overall view of the whole process.


IIoT technologies provide the opportunity to monitor points previously overlooked or not possible. Manufacturers are keen to understand the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of their machines. To improve OEE, the customer will focus on reducing unplanned downtime and improving yield and machine performance.  Emerson works closely with companies, firstly to classify and quantify each incident of unplanned downtime and then develop strategies that help to avoid them in the future. Emerson’s range of IIoT solutions provides the customer with the required granularity to identify problem areas. For example, monitoring cylinder health and identifying potential issues earlier and rectifying them before they impact production is just one of the ways we can help companies to increase equipment availability contributing to improved OEE.


The AVENTICS intelligent air preparation unit combined with the Smart Pneumatics Monitor from Emerson enables customers to monitor energy consumption online

3. Food and beverage is one sector that you identified as ready to embrace the technology. Is there another industry that you think should start looking at it?

There are clear benefits for the water and wastewater industry. Potable water is scarce in many regions. Digital transformation can enhance process efficiency and support more effective water management. IIoT solutions can provide the necessary overview of how water is used in their area for more effective water management. 


Emerson is working with many municipal bodies and corporations to digitally transform their plants and processes. For example, Emerson has worked with a provincial municipal body in Asia to help them better understand water usage in the region. By linking their monitoring systems to the metrological department using the cloud, water usage information has been synergized with data provided by the metrological department. This has helped the municipal to better determine the optimal way their processing plants should operate including the use of pumps to collect more rainwater during the rainy season.


4. Can you share a case study of a successful implementation of IIoT for factory automation?

One of Emerson’s customers in Asia recently invested in a solution that provided predictive maintenance to prevent the replacement of costly cylinders. This not only reduced machine downtime and labor costs but also saved the manufacturer expensive part replacements. The ROI for this application was made within twelve months. Another of our customers in the food manufacturing sector invested in IIoT technology that enabled them to analyze machine performance, identify leakages, and prevent unplanned downtime. This investment helped them to improve OEE and increase machine production significantly, with an ROI of fewer than three months. 


5. Is IIoT implementation only for massive manufacturers? How do you guide new clients who may want to embark on these technology upgrades?

Organizations of all shapes and sizes can digitally transform their operations to realize performance improvements. Many companies have struggled to create an actionable roadmap or identify the business value, which has subsequently held them back. A lack of internal expertise and concern about the need for largescale investment may also be the factors in not yet adopting IIoT solutions. Emerson helps companies by developing and execute a tailored digital transformation plan to enable them to obtain their performance improvements. Companies can start small by addressing a key issue such as a problematic valve. Equally, we can help organizations to explore companywide programs across a single domain such as reliability, production or sustainability.


The AVENTICS Smart Pneumatics Analyzer from Emerson measures and visualizes data such as air consumption and pressure. It provides customers with real-time information and actionable insights, enabling them to quickly detect trends and leakages.

6. Does implementation of IIoT require a large investment?

When investing in new technology, it is always important to consider the return on investment (ROI). Emerson offers a range of scalable IIoT solutions that are quick and easy to deploy, enabling companies to obtain immediate quantifiable business benefits. We have many customers that have achieved an ROI in only three to four months, due to increased throughput, improved efficiency, and reduced downtime and energy consumption. 


7. What advice would you give to companies who are new to IIoT and are hesitant about adopting it?

Global competition requires manufacturers to strive for operational excellence to ensure they are competitive and profitable. To achieve these goals, manufacturers are increasingly looking to digitally transform their operations. For those still hesitant, Emerson provides a range of services to support customers, with experts experienced in identifying opportunities to implement IIoT solutions that will provide the performance gains they need.


We also offer IIoT introductory sessions to provide the opportunity to learn how to build successful IIoT strategies, turn new and existing data into actionable insights to improve performance and to help establish the ROI for IIoT applications.

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