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Phil Russell

Practice Leader

Juggling New Skills

Phil started his Manufacturing Controls career even before he knew it was an actual career. Being a Chemical Engineering major in college, he started taking classes in ‘Controls’ and loved them from the get-go. He even tailored his co-op resume to align with a position at R.E. Mason. Not only did he get the co-op position but started his true career there, right after graduation.

At R.E. Mason, he had excellent mentors, like Juan Bustamante and Ron Eastep, and has enjoyed a range of challenging customer experiences. As a team member of the Automation Engineering Group, he worked with DeltaV™, Emerson’s premier process management software—and an industry standard in the process control world. For much of his tenure, he worked onsite at a large Pulp & Paper plant, helping the customer with a long-term migration project. There, he got involved with life cycle support, operator and maintenance training, alarm management, and more advanced process control challenges, as well. The R.E. Mason and Emerson teams implemented DeltaV’s Model Predictive Control strategy which features an advanced, multi-variable modeling approach to address difficult dynamics and process interactions. In the Pulp & Paper, as well as in the Mining, Life Sciences, and Chemical industries, there’s a growing need for modeling software to solve what causes variability and disturbances over time—because those issues eventually lead to other production problems.

This specific Pulp & Paper application involved a huge lime kiln with a massive flame at 1500 °F that cooks calcium carbonate through a calcination process. With a piece of rotating equipment that large, the process has a long residence time and it’s difficult to get good process measurements to understand what’s happening inside the kiln. With advanced tools and expertise, we could standardize HOW it operates–creating a ‘gold’ operator standard—as well as stabilizing the temperature profile on the kiln. Through stabilization, you get better quality product, minimize energy, and have less chance for mechanical failure. After a brief time on the other side of the world, in Australia, Phil came back and again reached out to his friends and colleagues at R.E. Mason.

“Learning about Apperture was exciting and right up my alley. Not only will I be able to provide real solutions to advanced and complex problems, but also tools and technologies from a variety of vendors.”

In his technical leadership role, Phil supports the design and implementation of APC (Advanced Process Control) strategies, alarm management, and digital twin solutions. In addition, he’ll be learning and implementing various leading-edge AspenTech solution sets, including Aspen DMC3™ for advanced process control, as well as some tools in the reliability space, like Aspen MTell®, Aspen ProMV®, and Aspen Fidelis™.

“I see my role as multi-functional, starting with current customers in Production Optimization. As we bring on more Apperture consultants, I’m sure that each of us will specialize by toolset or vendor. For now, I’m the SME for any/all predictive software, including DeltaV and AspenTech products. I’m most excited about the burgeoning area of OTS (Operator Training Systems), including simulations with Mimic™ and Aspen HYSIS®. I see that area becoming very popular because customers have expressed interest in operator training systems and because the tools have exponentially improved over the years. In case you were wondering about my many feats, I also enjoy acrobatics, rock climbing, and juggling!”


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