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Partnering to Build the Refinery of the Future



By Aaron Carman

WW Director of Datacenter Consulting

You may be familiar with the “Internet of Things” (IoT), but did you know that, as digitization becomes more pervasive within industries, a new term has been coined: the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT? In fact, within many manufacturing and distribution environments, IIoT has become a mandate to drive the processes that will help businesses achieve their business and customer satisfaction goals, and gain a competitive advantage.

Let’s set some context around what IIoT is: how it differs from IoT, and why it plays such a critical role in delivering powerful financial and operational improvements for industrial players.

IIoT is predicated on the vision that a network of a devices, connected by communications technologies, can create an ecosystem that monitors, analyzes, and delivers new business insights to facilitate smarter, faster business decisions. This technology facilitates smart machines that can tell line employees how to balance workloads to optimize productivity. Predictive analytics and preventative maintenance can detect a failure before it occurs, potentially saving a company hundreds of thousands of dollars -- or more. That’s leveraging digitization and the internet on a much grander scale that IoT, which is more consumer-focused, and includes things like connected refrigerators that can order more milk and eggs before you run out. Important in our daily lives? Yes. On the forefront of the next industrial revolution? Absolutely!

Texmark Chemical

GettyImages-530316097_RF_800_0_72_srgb.jpgTexmark CEO, Doug Smith, really captured the essence of HPE’s ongoing relationship with his company: “We embraced ideas that were ahead of their time. Now HPE has given us the opportunity to do that again. This innovative IIoT technology will help us become safer, more competitive, and better at everything we do.”

Texmark provides custom contract manufacturing and tolling of specialty and high volume chemicals to many of the world’s leading chemical companies. Located in Galena Park, Texas, their proximity to the Houston Shipping Channel allows them to transport products via ship and barge, as well as by rail and truck. It also provides their customers easy access to feedstocks for distribution in North America and around the world. Texmark’s advanced equipment and strict process controls, have made it an industry leader in quality and safety for more than 50 years.

With increasing demand for one of their primary products, dicyclopentadiene (DCPD), a polymer precursor for products that span ink to boats, they found themselves facing increasing challenges like managing the actual manufacturing process, to stringent safety requirements of volatile materials, to meeting increased demand for a very hot commodity. Their vision of meeting or exceeding industry standards for worker safety as well as production and asset management was going to require a specialized solution. – A solution that would depend heavily on the promise of IIoT, complete with sensor devices operating with advanced analytics software that could generate total system oversight, provide full automation, and reduce the risk of human error.

On the face of it, the solution sounded pretty straightforward.  But let’s take a deeper dive into the complexity and interdependencies of HPE’s proposal to this industry leader.

First of all, IIoT for an environment like Texmark’s requires robust connectivity that is designed to gather data from a variety of IIoT devices. Texmark’s commitment to and vision for next-generation worker safety, as well as production and asset management abilities, hinged on an emerging promise: the strength and agility of the Industrial Internet of Things. Their corporate culture was one of “leading the charge” when it came to embracing change, so they were open to incorporating new sensor devices combined with advanced analytics software to generate production insights, and reduce the risk of human error. The network had to be cost-effective though, and hard-wiring a manufacturing plant could be, as you might imagine, a game-stopper. In an environment like Texmark’s there are also standards of safety that have to be adhered to; there was a need for “rugged-izing’ to ensure that any element would not be the source of ignition. Latency was another big challenge. Transmission time delayed by even a few seconds could literally mean the difference between life and death situations at pumping stations. This meant that the IIoT architecture had to support analytics at the edge to deliver real-time visibility into both process and equipment.

This approach also required robust – but cost-effective -- connectivity, architected to support large volumes of data from a number of devices.

On the path to digitization and the Refinery of the Future 

 Any consultant who has been out in the trenches will tell you that customer success depends on how well your technology transacts and integrates into their environment. The success of any engagement depends on how you can enhance the user experience and transform work spaces and processes, while driving business value for the company.

GettyImages-479783727_RF_800_0_72_srgb.jpgClearly, Texmark was a prime candidate to realize a host of benefits from an IIoT ecosystem that would monitor, analyze, and deliver new business insights so they could make better business decisions and ensure plant safety. Operational efficiency, as well as resiliency enhancements were of paramount importance as they dealt with 6 product lines of flammable, highly regulated materials. Their success didn’t just impact their bottom-line. They produced the lifeblood for over 50 leading chemical companies who depended on them as an integral part of their own manufacturing lifecycles. Mother Nature wasn’t cutting them any slack, either. Towers and pumps drew multiple lighting strikes each year resulting in infrastructure outages and costly production delays.

The HPE/Texmark team began talking almost immediately about what their business challenges were, with HPE offering technology solutions that could be could leveraged address some of the most daunting issues. As we met with members of the Texmark team we began to develop a comprehensive picture of the interdependencies of their environment; program and project managers, sponsors, and department technical leads spent time defining their piece of the work so we could get everyone on same planning page.

The complexity required a programmatic, consultative approach. HPE took on the mantle of program leader, managing over 30 external partners who participated throughout the project lifecycle. As the HPE team analyzed the complexity of the environment from a technical perspective, Texmark became very excited about the potential of the engagement. -- We all knew we were breaking new ground as we began to architect Texmark’s “Refinery of the Future”. 

The time is now

HPE Pointnext is an innovative IT services organization built to make Hybrid IT simple and power the Intelligent Edge. As an agile technology partner, we help you to modernize your legacy infrastructure with the flexibility of the cloud, and maximize the value of your connected devices. And your mission is our mission: we help you to drive rapid transformation across your enterprise all on your own terms. Go to our website and chat with one of our representatives today.

About the Author:

Aaron Carman.jpgAaron Carman is currently the Worldwide Data Center Facilities Strategy Leader in the Data Center Facilities organization, one of four services lines currently operating within HPE Pointnext. The DCF Consulting organization offers data center centric capabilities across the globe, including cloud, IT infrastructure, and data center facilities services. Mr. Carman has twenty five years of practical expertise in the planning, design, implementation, consolidation, migration, and management of critical technology and data center architectures, infrastructures, frameworks, and toolsets. He has public and private sector experience beginning his career in 1995 in Chicago.  He has held various positions throughout his career mainly within the semiconductor industry.  He has aided in the development of the HPE Data Center Facilities Strategy Consulting (DCFC) organization, developing and refining delivery methodologies, and toolsets currently utilized today. Mr. Carman is also a member of a global architecture team of chief technologists responsible for new product and service creation for HPE.  His latest solution which launched in early 2017 is the HPE Micro Datacenter helping to enable the Intelligent Edge.

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