Things are looking up for Emerson Process Management—and for industry in general—if you judge by attendance at this year’s Emerson Global Users Exchange, held Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 in San Antonio: Nearly 2,300 people attended, up from last year’s 1,800. Emerson’s business is also up, said Steve Sonnenberg, executive vice president, Emerson, and business leader, Emerson Process Management, during his keynote address, and the worst of the recession seems to be in the past. The company increased R&D spending by 4% in 2009 and is increasing by a further 10% in 2010. It has also made several purchases over the past year or so, including the October 2009 acquisition of actuator maker EIM Controls. Emerson is continuing its push for more localization, adding service centers around the world—including the May opening of the $30 million Emerson Innovation Center - Fisher Technology in Marshalltown, IA.
John Berra (pictured), chairman of Emerson Process Management and executive vice president of Emerson Electric Company, officially announced his retirement after 41 years in the industry. Berra had turned over responsibility for running Emerson Process Management to Steve Sonnenberg two years ago at the Emerson Exchange in Washington, D.C., but this marked his official departure. During his 41 years Berra has seen almost the entire evolution of process control, from single-loop pneumatic control through local analog electronic control to today’s DCSs with advanced process control and artificial intelligence.
As a token of appreciation he was given a special award for his long-term support of Emerson since 2003: an iPad preloaded with congratulatory messages from people all over the company. He thanked the appropriate people, including end users. And he went on to suggest this group be called something beyond customers or end-users because, he said, their purchases of Emerson products were certainly not the end of anything, but the beginning; he proposed changing the term to “creators.”
Berra is not retiring from all activities; he serves on several corporate boards, and his election as a board member of Austin, TX-based National Instruments was announced in May.
Attendees had a choice of more than 300 workshops and short courses, of which 20 were devoted explicitly to valves. One session had particular relevance to the new flow lab in Marshalltown. Entitled “Techniques Ensuing from Flow Lab Testing to Engineer Optimum Noise Reduction for Control Valve / Diffuser Combinations,” it told the story of the development of a way to reduce severe acoustic noise in pressure-reducing valves in a municipal steam distribution (district heating) application.
Another session of special interest to those charged with keeping valves in good working order was “Control Valve Troubleshooting and Performance Tracking – There's an App for that.” In this session, the presenter contrasted the traditional method of troubleshooting valve problems, which consists primarily of failure analysis, with the current approach, which uses pre-emptive trend analysis using the data available from smart vales and actuators. It then looked at the steps common to both methods—information gathering, analysis, conclusions and action plan—and went through each step in detail, showing with examples where traditional methods were appropriate and where the use of digital information can not only contribute to failure analysis but help to prevent failure in the first place.
The session on “Valve Testing Standards Result in Higher Performance” was a case history that told the story of how a user company (International Paper), faced with difficulty ensuring valve products from suppliers were up to their stringent standards—which was causing mill operational performance issues—developed a solution that allowed for a common language among IP personnel and set clear expectations and ownership of mill champions. The company created an instrument & electrical precision maintenance standards team that developed a set of testing guidelines for valve suppliers that revealed potential weaknesses in any supplier’s offerings and helped ensure that the products selected would be suitable for their intended use.
New at the product exhibits
Each afternoon the technical exhibits opened with 42 exhibitors, of which eight were members of Emerson’s Alliance Program, five were parts of Emerson itself, and 29 were separate. Here’s a selection of new valve products on display:
Fisher showed its MR105 and MR108 high-capacity industrial regulators, available in sizes to 4 inches and in two pressure range: 70 psig (4.8 bar) for the MR108 and 400 psig (27.6 bar) for the MR105. They’re made to resist dirty media and are aimed at applications such as boiler feed water, cooling water, lube oil and any service where impurities can be a problem.
Also new for the TopWorx 4310 wireless position monitor is the ability to operate on 12-24 V local power and to report by exception, which extends battery life. That’s best suited to relief valve applications, where a 2 to 45 second update rate is too slow. Coupled with a regulator like the 1190, 1290, 63EG or 1098, the unit can send information on regulator operation—% open, etc.—to a control room.
Also of note was the announcement that the Tescom 44-5800 series high-temperature vaporizing regulator, which has been out for a few months, now has ATEX approval and can be sold outside North Americas (and used with a GC).
Several control valves from Fisher were on display, including Baumann sanitary valves: the existing 8900, the newer 91000, and the Baumann 11000 sanitary throttling disk valve, which was on display but had not yet been officially released.
Another new product on display was the new Exlar EL100 explosion-proof high-temperature electric servo-type actuator with ATEX compliance. The unit features a temperature rating of 181°F (93°C), a T3 CSA/ATEX temperature class rating and maximum case operating temperature of 352°F (200°C).
Next year’s Emerson Users Exchange is scheduled for Oct. 24-28, 2011, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN.