The Power of Innovation for Suppliers of Combust, Flow and Treat Products
There is a sea change in the route to market for suppliers of combust, flow and treat products. It is being caused by the adoption of digital technologies.
Suppliers have to navigate a course every bit as challenging as did Eastman Kodak. The monumental failure of this company was to underestimate the power of innovation and overestimate the power of positioning in a non-digital market. The result was a company which was best able to achieve what Apple has accomplished and instead stifled R&D and tried to delay or prevent the transition to digital cameras.
Suppliers of Combust, Flow and Treat (CFT) products can harness the power of innovation only if they understand customer needs in every niche where there is potential. There is voluminous data already available to facilitate this understanding. With process management software and data analytics the availability of useful data will expand by orders of magnitude. The individual supplier is already overwhelmed by this avalanche of information. However, just as IIoT connects things in vastly large numbers the Industrial Internet of Wisdom (IIoW) can connect knowledge and people and harness the power of the avalanche rather than be buried by it.
Innovation will potentially generate large revenues and profits as per the Apple example. It starts with understanding customer needs. This is prohibitively expensive for any one company. Companies such as Primex and MOGAS have found ways to share this cost using the Wikinomics concept. Many companies support Users Groups. However, harnessing the power of the avalanche is going to require even more interconnection in the new digital world.
Ultimately there should be interconnection addressing all segments with potential power in the avalanche. Organized decision systems around industries, processes and products should exist in millions of niches. Google and other search engines employ large numbers of people. However, IIoW will need to employ even more to keep up with the avalanche in an organized and decisive way.
Who should spearhead this activity: governments, consultants, associations or suppliers? The group with the most to gain are the suppliers and there is a strong case to be made as to why they should lead rather than follow. The McIlvaine Company believes its primary role should be as a consultant rather than leader even though it has developed Decision Systems such as Coal Fired Boilers. McIlvaine can aid suppliers. This assistance comes as part of a 5-step program.
The five step Business Programn is the navigation tool and the Lowest Total Cost of Ownership Validation (LTCOV) is the ship most likely to insure a successful voyage. Innovation is the fuel to maximize the speed and quantity delivered. The foundation of successful innovation is the Industrial Internet of Wisdom (IIoW)
With IIoT, remote monitoring and data analytics, the customer will possess continuing total cost of ownership analyses of each product. To persuade the customer to buy more of his product the supplier will need to deliver insights which are superior to those already in his possession. Persuading the customer to buy a new product requires the supplier to demonstrate greatly superior knowledge. The advantage of the new environment is that the customer is much more receptive to products which will provide LTCO.
In order for the supplier to create the LTCOV for a specific product in a specific process he will first need
- Information about the plant process
- Performances of competitive products in that process
- Relevant general factors such as cost of electricity, weather and geography.
- Relevant customer factors such as production cycles, financial criteria and personnel capabilities
If the supplier has a product which is proven in a similar process, then it is valuable to establish the similarities and differences between the two processes. This is particularly relevant if
- This is a new product and only used to date in the other process
- The severity and criticality of the other process is similar to the given process.
Innovation: Innovation will be more important in the new market environment. The reason is that customers have the process management systems and data analytics to analyze the new product potential. They already will have documented the short comings of existing products and processes.
This new and better innovation must be validated for each application. This requires a high level of process and product knowledge to first develop the product and then to communicate that knowledge convincingly.
Example : Here is the way some companies are gaining and communicating this knowledge.
Primex: This company has been involved with dry scrubbing systems for coal fired boilers for decades. They helped create the Dry Scrubbers Users Group (DSUA) and are very active in the annual conference. They consult for several NAES power plants and have access to the continuous process management data supplied by the OSIsoft systems.
They are analyzing the performance of all the components. Because of their extensive experience they have recommended changes which have greatly improved operations.
The bag design was causing some problems. Primex patented a modification and then licensed this patent to the bag manufacturers. At the latest conference, there was a good sharing of information among suppliers and users relative to the control valve washing protocol. Primex will be able to incorporate this knowledge into their advisory service.
McIlvaine has proposed to the DSUA and to Primex that the McIlvaine Dry Scrubber Decision Guide be used to create an ongoing decision system on dry scrubber components and processes. This would provide currency and organization to the overall effort and provide the four knowledge needs: Alerts, Answers, Analysis and Advancement.
Mogas: This valve manufacturer and severe service technology company organizes a biennial conference on autoclaves for extraction of metals from ores. Ekato, an agitator supplier, Koch-Knight who furnishes autoclave components, NobelClad, a supplier of explosively clad alloys, and Caldera, a consultant specializing in extraction are co-sponsors.
Mogas has captured a large share of the severe service valve market for these applications. Their process knowledge and innovative engineering philosophy have resulted in special valve designs with unique coatings to reduce corrosion and erosion.
There are similar applications with larger markets. One is tight oil including oil sands and shale. Another is the power plant FGD where Ekato is the leading supplier of agitators. Scaling is a problem in both applications. Improved valve and agitator designs for one market can be applied to others.
The bi annual autoclave conference has spurred innovation. Wouldn t on going decision systems on this subject be a logical next step forward? Application oriented decision systems can be supplemented by product-oriented systems such as valve decisions for severe service slurry valves: or "agitators for abrasive and corrosive applications".
HRSGS User Group: The organizers of this bi annual conference and McIlvaine are ready to help suppliers organize decision systems around HRSG products. There is already a good start with a decision guide on HRSG valves. The next step is to identify suppliers willing to support this effort.
Source: The McIlvaine Company