LSC speak to Emerson Ireland's Projects and Engineering Manager - Dave Mullins

Posted Nov 26, 2017

LSC are partnering with Emerson Ireland to resource their expansion in Ireland. We spoke to Dave Mullins the Projects and Engineering Manager in Emerson Ireland, to discuss his career, his role in Emerson and automation engineering projects.

What is your role in Emerson?

I am the Project and Engineering Manager for Emerson Automation Solutions here in Ireland.

My role includes sales support, project oversight of all projects in Ireland both commercially and technically, resourcing to meet our growing business needs and working with the Emerson leadership team to develop a strategic plan for the continued growth of the Irish operation.

What do Emerson in Ireland do?

Emerson is a technology and engineering company that provides solutions to process industries to measure, analyse, control and regulate complex manufacturing processes. In Ireland Emerson is predominately focused on the Life Sciences Industry.

Emerson in Ireland have a number of different activities:

  • Automation / Delta V: We support and lead projects from inception through design, installation and commissioning here in Ireland and also across Europe and the US. The Irish office is a recognised for it’s expertise in Life Sciences globally within Emerson.
  • MES / Syncade : We have a team of MES professionals in Ireland who support and lead local projects and global MES roll outs of our MES product Syncade.
  • Services Business – We have our service business, which is a growing part of the organisation here as our client base in Ireland has grown. This supports our clients with on-site services, maintenance, enhancements, SW and HW upgrades and System health Assessments.
  • Sales: We also have a number of sales teams that cover a number of other Emerson products such as Valves (Fisher), instrumentation (Rosemount) and other product lines.

The majority of the Emerson staff and contractors in Ireland work in the Automation business for client projects in Ireland and overseas (the UK, Denmark, France, Germany and the US). Over the last five years approx 50% of the projects we have worked on have been outside of Ireland.

How did you get into Automation?

In my leaving cert year I attended an open evening in CIT and they described Applied Physics as a mix of Science and Engineering which really appealed to me. After I graduated from Applied Physics, I got a role in a pharma company in Cork providing production support, on the automation systems. As part of a large automation team in a big facility, I got some great experience, however after two years, I wanted to get more technical experience and work on systems design, rather than support. The Emerson office in Cork had just opened (1999) and my old boss had joined then and tempted me to join.

You have been working in Emerson for over 15 years, what do you enjoy most about working here?

I really like working in automation and the fact that it is continuously evolving and changing to meet new trends and technologies. While the core principles of the batch processes are the same, the nature of its implementation and integration into a modern facility is now completely different to 1999 when I joined.

I especially enjoy the projects nature of our work. Each client and site is completely different. It’s never the same! Big projects, small projects there is always something unique. I like that you get to meet a client at the very inception of a project, with a blank page in front of you and you get to design, implement, install and commission a system and then two years later you watch as it actually produces a tangible product.

What has been the highlight of that time?

I have really enjoyed being involved in the bid processes for some of the large and technically challenging projects we have landed in the last few years. Winning those large biotech projects was a major achievement for the Ireland team and has really cemented our position as the leading Pharma/Biotech process automation supplier in Ireland.

I have really enjoyed growing the team here in Ireland (now 100 persons) and am looking forward to implementing our strategy and continuing that growth over the next 18 months to 150 professionals. It’s great to walk in to the offices in Cork and Dublin and feel the energy and enthusiasm of the teams working on interesting and challenging projects, in particular the graduates and junior engineers who have recently joined us.

What is the most interesting project you have worked on?

There have been so many ….. There is an interesting one at the moment and it is using a wide range of Emerson technical capabilities implemented from the beginning of the project. We don’t usually get to an opportunity to play with all the Emerson “toys” on one project. This really allows us to optimize our implementation and to maximize the solution for our client.

The Biotech client wants a high degree of process and facility flexibility coupled with high levels of in process control and data analysis, implemented in a paperless process.

For the in-process automation we are using the latest DeltaV Software with virtualisation, wireless technology and Electronic Marshalling (CHARMs).

We are also implementing the MES system Syncade and including a batch Review-by-Exception methodology.

What does the future hold for automation engineers in Emerson?

The one thing I can guarantee is “Change”. We are seeing enormous changes in everything we do.

On the client side we are seeing organisations becoming leaner, with smaller technical teams and depending more on the suppliers to be expert in both the process and technology. Clients are demanding more specialised knowledge for example they want an automation engineer with in-depth understanding of Biotech processes and also knowledge of flexible disposable technologies.

The industry is evolving rapidly with changes for example in increased facility flexibility, disposable technology, modular facilities, multi-product process trains and Continuous vs Batch processing to name but a few. All of this is occurring in facilities with increased connectivity and big data management, which produces challenges around Cyber security, hosting, data analytics and obsolescence.

All this change and evolution offers exciting and unique future opportunities for Emerson staff in ways that we don’t even fully understand today.

What type of person does well in Emerson?

You still need to be technically capable in whatever field you specialise in, however your soft skills (communication, teamwork, organisation skills, presentation and documentation skills) are now equally as important and are essential to your success. The day of sitting behind your desk programming and rarely speaking to another human are now long gone. You need to be able to get out there and communicate, work well with the team and get things done.

What has changed in the role since you started?

Traditionally Emerson in Ireland recruited from Applied Physics courses (or similar) to find people to meet customer requirements. Today with our changing client demands we need a wider range of technical capabilities and soft skills. Our clients are demanding an increased service and capability from us and we need to find people who can fill these exciting new roles.

We need people who are open minded, looking for a challenge, good with people and able to see the big picture.

What career advice would you offer yourself if you met 18 years old Dave?

Do a bit more travel and projects abroad. A lot of my work was in Cork. Don’t be afraid to travel to gain experience and sample the world. Ireland will always be here for you to come back to!