Emerson unveils architecture vision for ‘boundless automation’

Mike Edwards   

News People in Process Aspentech boundless automation Emerson IT OT Plantweb

Building on a deep legacy of industry-leading digital automation expertise through its Plantweb digital ecosystem, Austin, TX-based global technology and software company Emerson has announced its vision of a new software-defined automation architecture designed to catalyze the future of modern manufacturing.

The company says this next-generation architecture will empower companies through “boundless automation” to manage, connect and deliver operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) data seamlessly and easily across the enterprise.

Moving data freely and securely across OT and IT domains — from the intelligent field to the edge and cloud — will enable operational and business performance optimization across the enterprise.

Emerson, drawing upon decades of automation leadership through its preeminent Plantweb digital ecosystem, shared this vision to accelerate manufacturing today at its Emerson Exchange convening nearly 3,000 industrial experts to discuss emerging ways to optimize business and sustainability performance through advanced automation.

This vision follows Emerson’s latest expansion of Plantweb with the Aspen Tech industrial software portfolio.

“The industrial sector is facing a pivotal moment, with the intersecting priorities of safety, productivity and sustainability forcing a crossroads between ‘the way things have always been done’ and the tech-powered vision of tomorrow,” said Mark Bulanda (above right), executive president of Emerson’s Automation Solutions business.

“As an automation leader with expanding software capabilities through our AspenTech addition, Emerson is well-positioned to help the industries we serve navigate a path to a digital future.”

The automation architecture currently used across the world’s most essential industries was purpose-built with operational data isolated from hardware and software systems.

The company adds this siloed approach presents a barrier to meaningful data use because separate layers of automation — including sensors and software, cloud-based applications, and artificial intelligence — block data access from one layer to the next.

Leveraging automation to its fullest potential is said to require secure OT data access to put data to work across layers to optimize process, reliability, safety, and sustainability simultaneously. New technologies and applications combined with market needs — including “born digital” companies, decentralized operating models and the move toward self-optimized plants — have created demand for a new automation paradigm, the company says, where a unified software environment streams data across the enterprise effortlessly, when and where it’s needed.

This software-defined, data-centric, and app-enabled architecture Emerson outlined at the Emerson Exchange Americas conference in Grapevine, TX, will more easily “democratize” critical data. The automation architecture will easily gather data from devices and modern edge-based technology control systems and securely move it to today’s cloud-based enterprise for analysis, trending, and forecasting — enabling tight collaboration between information technology and OT.

“Emerson has been at the forefront of industrial automation innovation breakthroughs for the past four decades, and our commitment continues,” said Peter Zornio (above left), chief technology officer for Emerson’s Automation Solutions business.

“The shift to a software-defined architecture across the cloud, edge and intelligent field will eliminate functional and architectural silos, creating a ‘boundless automation’ platform. Such a platform is required to truly enable all the benefits promised by digital transformation applications and programs.”

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