Emerson is the foundational sponsor of IHS CERAWeek. Insights from Emerson panels appear below. For more information, visit ceraweek.com.

At CERAWeek 2016, Emerson president Ed Monser (pictured at right with CNBC’s Brian Sullivan) joined a distinguished panel including Chevron’s Wesley Lohec, ERM’s Don Lloyd and IHS panel chair Nilesh Dayal to discuss operational strategies in the current economic and energy climate.

The session’s objectives were lofty: “The global energy industry has an imperative to deliver health, safety, and environmental (HSE) performance while maintaining operational integrity. Today, all companies face a common challenge. How will they maintain adequate resource levels to ensure that their operations run safely and productively while managing the implications of a cost-constrained world? And what role will technology play in supporting ever-tightening resource availability? This session will explore strategies that integrated energy companies and their suppliers are using to achieve asset reliability, greater productivity, and reduced risk of HSE incidents.”

Monser opened with describing the importance of Emerson investments on anything that helped process manufacturers and producers improve safety, environmental impact improvement and efficiency. Highly safe plants see the impact of their diligence all the way down to the bottom line performance of the plant. The key is to move from managing abnormal situations to preventing them.

Half the accidents in a plant happen when things in the plant start up or shut down, Monser explained. The key is to minimize unplanned downtimes to be in these conditions as little as possible. Through a strong reliability program and continuously monitoring plant assets, such as pumps and compressor, early warnings can provide time to fix and avoid these abnormal situations.

In a Solomon study, top quartile plants have 97% availability versus 84% percent for fourth quartile performers. This means not only additional production and efficiency, but also that these top performers have fewer safety incidents since less time is being spent in startup and shutdown conditions. Monser urged the industry to take another look at the standards and consider using the modern technologies available to move to a predictive approach to avoid unplanned downtime.

During a lively Q&A panel session, Monser noted that Pervasive Sensing solutions open up the opportunity to monitor more and provide data for analysis and recommendations. The technology must continue to advance, but there is plenty of value to apply today. In this downturn, there is an opportunity to shift from a capital expenditure project focus to a focus on optimization and making existing assets safer through using these advanced technologies. These strategies will help prepare an organization for the next upturn.

The interesting panel session made it clear: There is a tremendous opportunity to shrink the distance between Top Quartile and fourth quartile oil and gas producers through the application of technologies, collaboration centers and processes to drive overall availability higher and abnormal situations lower.