Dow, Siemens and MxD are collaborating to combine the mobile workforce, which was seen to be futuristic, with today's technology. Why should we wait?
The digital age has enabled society to do incredible things, COVID-19 led to a large section of society working from home. Now slowly regaining some normality, remote working has stayed and is now offered within job descriptions more and more. It is now time for this digital transformation to be converted into the industry further. This will enable frontline operators to communicate with executives, in turn, this will enable them to ensure they are doing their job to the highest standards, therefore making the business more efficient and profitable.
Dow Inc. has partnered with Siemens and MxD to build a testbed to develop the tools which will lead to a more mobile industrial workforce. The testbed is structured around a separation column, which is frequently used within the processing industry for productions such as distillation, absorption and extraction.
This testbed was showcased in the recent 2022 ARC Forum, by representatives from Dow, Siemens and MxD. Manufacturers were able to have a deeper look into the testbed, learn more, and contribute to the ongoing development.
Many directors, product managers, marketing managers and engineers were interviewed about the new testbed.
Senior Director of projects at MxD, Sena Cooper, spoke about how this will enable people to join and be at the centre of the digitalisation journey. Cooper went on to imply that doing this will guarantee digitalisation is successful. Cooper carried on to say, “It’s about gaining knowledge as we build out the testbed and incorporate other modular digital solutions.”
Siemens distributed control system (DCS) product management and marketing manager Doug Ortiz was also interviewed. Ortiz highlighted that the project is concentrated on finding the knowledge of skilled workers, and then transferring that knowledge into the technology that will be used to train new employees. Ortiz went on to say that within this industry companies can not afford “for new workers to come onboard and make mistakes”. This will be saving future companies time and money, and grow future employees' knowledge base faster and larger.
A mobile workforce enables companies to connect through mobile devices (smartphones, mobiles, computers), leading to a workforce not being bound by a specific, physical location.
As mentioned earlier, the digital era is now, everything is becoming more accessible and everyone is becoming more digitally aware. By companies focusing on bringing mobile workforces, they are likely to see improvements and further developments in the frontline worker.
Therefore, this way of working is likely to open up and speed up communications, training and enhance workers. This testbed’s aim is to give frontline workers the correct information at all times so they can conduct their jobs to the best quality, without having to wait for specific information they may need.
The previously mentioned separation column will be controlled by the world’s first completely web-based process control system, called The Siemens SIMATIC PCS neo. Ortiz went on to explain how “That means you can use any device that supports a web browser to access either the engineering or the operations environment of the control system. And it has a lot of built-in functionalities to help an operator do their tasks.”
Having this mobile platform will support workers, for example, if multiple alarms were to go off on a plant, this system will allow the operator to prioritise.
This development of the industrial mobile working world is an important step, it will support new workers to help develop their knowledge and generally aid an entire workforce to conduct their jobs with the information at their fingertips.