An Open Discussion about the Future of Automation - Part 2 |

An Open Discussion about the Future of Automation - Part 2

October 222012
An Open Discussion about the Future of Automation - Part 2
Executive Roundtable at ISA Automation Week in Orlando, FL
October 2012
By Bill Lydon, Editor
During ISA Automation Week on September 24-27, 2012 in Orlando, Florida, executives from supplier and end-user companies, along with a leading industrial business analyst provided their insights into the future of automation and industry issues. Peter Martin, Ph.D., Vice President, Business Value Solutions at Invensys, assembled the panel and was an excellent moderator. Martin commented, “We are the future of industry, if we do our job, industry will thrive…” 
The panel featured:
  • Michael Caliel, CEO and President, Invensys Operations Management
  • Robert Novotny, Managing Consultant, Price Waterhouse Cooper
  • Wolfgang Morr, General Manager, NAMUR Leverkusen, Germany
  • Cliff Pedersen, Chief Information Officer, North West Upgrading, Inc.
  • Chet Mroz, President and CEO, Yokogawa Corporation of America
Each panel member commented on key industry issues from their point of view. Topics included the changing nature of the workforce, aging workforce challenges, technology shifts driven by COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) technology, sensor to enterprise integration, making plants and processes safer with proper automation/monitoring, and requirements for rugged equipment to support deep water and remote applications.  Continued from Part 1.
Issues Discussion
Peter Martin posed questions to the panel for thoughts and comments.
Human Performance - how should automation help the people problem?
Robert Novotny described mining locations where it is hard to find people not only due to lack of talent but also because mines are located in remote, rugged part of the world where most people don’t want to live. Remote monitoring helps to leverage remote experts. He described monitoring hundreds of point on haul trucks that are evaluated remotely by experts, therefore eliminating the need for extra mechanics. This information is used to solve problems, define real-time preventive maintenance, and increase uptime. He suggested the need to make information so simple to understand that someone actually acts on it.
Mike Caliel said there are technologies available to deploy and ramp up skills of operators that collapse the time to deal with issues. Technologies also exist to allow people to effectively work remotely.
Cliff Pedersen said, “We as an industry stopped hiring in the 1980’s….kids started going away from science and technology…” He also noted that young people want to be the next Facebook billionaire and do not want to do the hard work to learn engineering and automation. “We have to attract people back into science and engineering…,” said Pedersen.  He cited the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)   program as an excellent way to engage young people in technology. He noted the industry needs to reinvent itself and is looking for answers.
Chet Mroz noted for many years he has been admiring German manufacturing companies and educational systems. They have a unique way of training people with a vocational system and using trade schools, two year, and three year programs. Making the case for change he commented, “We have to take very seriously our (U.S.) educational system…”
Wolfgang Morr said technology can help operators react more accurately to unforeseen situations. “Still today about half the incidents in the chemical industry are due to operator errors, we should reduce this…,” said Morr. He suggests this can be done by applying automation technology and operator training simulators are very important to teach how to react to situations.
Peter Martin asked the panelists to challenge new engineers…
Mike Caliel said industry has to be better at attracting new people and thinking to the industry. “It is a remarkable industry…the work we do; technologies we work with are on the frontend of the world’s economy,” said Caliel.    He noted if this is not done well, the world’s manufacturing enterprises don’t work efficiently, reliability, and safely. “I challenge you to think about where the next breakthrough is as it relates to manufacturing, deployment of technology, emerging technologies, and how humans relate to those technologies,” said Caliel.
Chet Mroz commented that they have been finding new people with the old method of sending recruiters to universities throughout the United States. He and other managers coach and mentor the new people. This is something more experienced people need to do with support from management in their companies.
Cliff Pedersen said, “Industry messed up - we stopped hiring and in 2008 it happened again.” “We stopped hiring the students and guess what the younger generation thinks?” He suggests we need to transfer knowledge into simulators, systems, and people. We need to engage and inspire younger people to understand what we already know.
Robert Novotny said you need to focus on things that add value. Make sure you focus on what they want and not what you think is cool.  “Cool doesn’t make money,” said Novotny.
Wolfgang Morr said the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are facing enormous changes in processes. They require new technology, sensors, and ideas to control for richer control and process intensification.
About ISA Automation Week 2012
More than 1,200 automation professionals attended from countries around the world to exchange best practices and technical solutions. The technical program was chaired by Dr. Peter Martin, Vice President of Business Value Solutions at Invensys, and featured over 60 technical conference sessions, three executive keynote presentations, networking receptions, standards committee meetings, training courses and leadership meetings.
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