Emerson product development: It’s all about ease of use
That is why, in collaboration with Carnegie Melon University, Emerson created what it calls Human Centered Design Institute.
This comes after more than five years of user analysis. The goal is to make products that work, but also bring about a significant improvement in ease-of-use and workforce productivity.
“We are introducing a completely new overhaul of how we develop new products,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management during the Emerson Global Users Exchange in Orlando, Fla. “A process that puts features second, and usability first. A process that reinvents the relationship between technology and the people that use it. We call this concept human centered design. It puts you in charge of the technology instead of the other away around. The institute is to make sure we build products based on usability.”
At user group meetings suppliers always talk about listening to users, but Emerson feels they are taking it one step further.
“I don’t think the issue is we have ignored customers up to five years ago,” said John Berra, chairman of Emerson Process Management. “I think we spent most of our time on the technological time of customer input and a little less time on the ease of use side. Our customers used to have the ability to buy a small DeltaV set it up in a conference room and play around with it and the people inside the customer organization would figure out how to use it and that knowledge was then transferred internally,” Berra said. “All those folks are now gone.”
“Now the emphasis on making it easy to use became overwhelming and we started to pay attention to that when our customers lost the ability to figure it out for themselves.”
“It is a new approach,” Sonnenberg said. “Before we thought our job was to make a product better. But now we don’t just look at the product, we look at all the processes customers are using right now.”
The design of Emerson’s new DeltaV S series followed along the path of the human centered design and so did their new 50 new field device dashboards.
These new field device dashboards interact with a series of smart devices which gives the operator a clear and easy way to understand what the device readings are and how well the devices are operating.
“This all starts with the customer and ends with the customer,” Sonnenberg said.