PROCESS CONTROL Marshalling Mastered With CHARMs

Emerson’s Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology promises to forever change how large industrial automation projects are designed and implemented.  Manufacturers around the world are using Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs to realize new levels of flexibility and ease of use, significantly reduced risk, lower costs, and reduced project delays.

Conventional Marshalling VS Electronic Marshalling

Less Time, Less Cost, Less Risk

CHARMs Make Industrial Control System Changes Easier, Less Costly
Last-minute design changes are inevitable.  But when they come in the midst of a process control system deployment for a large pharmaceutical plant, a petrochemical facility, an oil and gas offshore platform or onshore refinery, the result can be months of lost time and millions of dollars in costs and lost production. 

Industrial process control systems enable plant operators to achieve substantial efficiencies and cost savings. But the conventional approach to implementing these systems requires everything to be perfectly planned.  Planners and engineers must map out thousands of input and output devices and then meticulously wire each of these devices to the correct controller devices.  This process, called marshalling, is reminiscent of the central office switchboards used in the early days of the telephone network, with operators manually connecting the right wires to enable each call. 

The marshalling phase can be thrown off schedule for months if last-minute architecture changes are made.  Design engineers have had few options to minimize the impact of required changes – until Emerson took on the challenge.

Now, thanks to Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology developed by Emerson Process Management, up to 75 percent of the work required to bring a measurement from the field to control room with conventional marshalling can be eliminated.

Emerson’s Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology is able to recognize varying signal types from the hundreds or thousands of different field devices that serve as the eyes, ears and control mechanisms for a process plant, thereby simplifying connections to the facility’s digital control center.  The need for complex individual connections is replaced by flexible technology that allows all of a plant’s devices to be added, moved, and changed with ease depending upon the final automation design architecture. 

One Emerson customer is using Emerson’s Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology on a major new offshore platform project to reduce the impact of last-minute design changes.  It is estimated that CHARMS technology will shave months off the project’s automation timeline compared with conventional marshalling.  This is a huge cost savings for the customer, for which delays could cost upwards of $1 million in lost revenues every day.

Emerson’s Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology allows companies to not only shorten project commissioning schedules and accommodate late project changes, but also eliminate equipment and cabinets, reduce wiring and installation costs, and dramatically simplify the final control system design.

Removing this complexity provides benefits not just during the project startup phase, but also for the 30-plus years a facility will operate.  CHARMs technology enables streamlined accommodation of design changes, which can otherwise add months of time and millions of dollars in cost to a project.

Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs is just one example of Emerson’s Human Centered Design approach, which examines total work processes for improvement – not just incremental product features – to eliminate unnecessary work, reduce complexity and embed knowledge into its technologies.

With more than 110 million hours of operating time at more than 100 customer sites, the technology is proven and growing by the day.  Emerson has filed for nine patents related to this new-to-the-world technology.


Conventional wiring design and setup ("marshalling") to connect field devices to the control panel interface has looked like this for the past 35 years. Hundreds or thousands of wires connect devices that measure temperature, pressure and other conditions in a plant to a specific controller.

Meticulous upfront planning and time-consuming setup processes are required. Project timelines can be thrown off-schedule for months if last-minute architecture changes have to be made. And that can mean millions of dollars in costs and lost revenue.


Emerson’s Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs (CHARacterization Modules) minimizes time spent on the arranging, sorting and terminating — or "marshalling" in industry lingo — of the input and output wiring that enables process automation. The plug-and-play architecture automatically identifies devices and the needed communications signal type, eliminating the need for meticulous manual wiring.

CHARMs can eliminate marshalling design time and costs, as well as reduce overall wiring costs, with some projects needing 50 percent less wiring with CHARMs configuration. Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology also reduces space and weight required to support process automation, which is especially critical for oil platforms and other facilities where space is at a premium.


The individual CHARacterization Module (CHARM) shown above allows field wiring of any signal type to be terminated anywere. Learn more > 

Nathan Pettus, Director of Lifecycle Care, Emerson Process Management

Nathan Pettus, Director of Lifecycle Care, Emerson Process Management, explains the benefits of Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs technology.

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