Inside Automation - Theory Meets Reality

  • July 20, 2015
  • MAVERICK Technologies
  • News

By Bill Lydon, Editor

MAVERICK Technologies recently hosted an event called “Inside Automation - Theory Meets Reality” at MAVERICK Technologies Headquarters on April 20-22, 2015. Paul Galeski, CEO and Founder of MAVERICK Technologies and Jim Huff, Vice President Strategy & Marketing at MAVERICK Technologies, shared their vision for this inaugural, invitation-onlyevent. The event was created in cooperation with the International Society of Automation (ISA).

The MAVERICK and ISA vision is to host an industry event where automation industry professionals can exchange ideas and methods to solve problems and become more effective. MAVERICK Technologies is an engineering and systems integration company founded in 1999. The International Society of Automation, founded in 1945, is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure.

The core of the event was stated in opening remarks by Galeski. “Let’s work together, come up with new ideas, and make a difference so we can look back six months, a year, or two years from now and say there are ideas that came out of Inside Automation that are now in practice in industry,” said Galeski. “We made a difference.” He noted the event brought together the "best and brightest" with hopes for new ideas to emerge that attendees can take home and put to work. Galeski also hopes that some of those ideas can be used by ISA as the basis of new standards. The MAVERICK team views themselves as a catalyst to help improve the industry. The event is not centered on any product vendor and it provides an open, untethered environment for the free flow of ideas. The goal of the event is for attendees to share best practices and ideas in an open learning environment.

Attendees came from a variety of industries, including oil and gas, chemicals, and food. Manufacturing companies are facing big challenges with the increasing complexity of automation technology, cyber security, integration with business systems, and workforce development. Four major topics were explored at the event: projects, technology, operations, and the future. The meeting format was designed to engage participants, provide learning opportunities, share ideas, and collaborate openly. Informational and stimulating presentations on each topic were followed by small group discussions facilitated by MAVERICK people, and then sharing with the entire group.

Galeski gave a presentation on workforce development emphasizing you cannot steal talent any more but you must organically grow people. Most of future job openings will come from replacing workers at all educational and experience levels from those without a high school degree to PhD’s. Automation is the key factor in the continued global competitiveness of the U.S., and in the revitalization of manufacturing. It will require knowledgeable, talented people. Development of people takes time and investment. Automation technology is advancing so rapidly that it takes one to three years for engineering graduates to perform at a professional level in the automation field.

Looking to the future, small groups of attendees discussed their thoughts on the technologies showing true promise and those likely to be dismissed as fads. There were many opinions expressed and frequent citations of a comment from a presentation at the event made by Peter Martin, Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Business Value Solutions. Martin noted some of the new technologies are vying for attention as solutions in search of a problem.

Galeski laid out a serious challenge to attendees, “If we as the automation community don’t improve manufacturing, who’s going to do it?” “It’s incumbent upon us to be the best that we can and continue to raise the bar in industry, and that’s what this conference is about.” He noted there are plenty of theories, but it is the job of the people in the audience to help turn them into reality. ISA will work to institutionalize the best ideas emerging from the events discussions. Maverick and ISA intend to make this an annual event.

Below are comments from attendees:

“Unique opportunity to connect with industry experts in a structured yet relaxed environment”

“Perfect blend of lectures, discussions and fun”

“No one else is doing anything like this”

“Excellent opportunity for interchange”

“Format of keynotes and group discussions was great. Loves that attendees were all prepared to comment and do show and tell”

“Great opportunity to step back and look at the larger outlook for our industry”

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