Stephen Reilly, ProSys
It’s only been a little over a week since I was in Houston, Texas, for the 4th Annual Innovations Conference hosted by Siemens at Minute Maid Park on March 30th and 31st, but in the whirlwind of activity that has been the day-to-day office proceedings since then, I recall some great advice that the various speakers proffered to the attendees. Keynote speaker, Lisa Davis (Managing Board Member, Siemens AG) set the tone on day one of the two-day event with the quip, “Never waste a good crisis.”
During the general sessions, Bob Ineson (Managing Director, IHS Energy), summarized the cause of such a crisis that industry currently faces. He recognized how, in the oil and gas industry, still-increasing supply with still-increasing demand is raising tension for operating companies to handle, noting that “We’re drowning in BTUs. It doesn’t matter what form they are.”
In the panel that followed, Gene Till (Global Manager, ConocoPhillips) emphasized how now is a great time to invest in opportunities since he observed, “The low-hanging fruit is gone.” As for how to invest in such opportunities, Thomas Scarinci (VP of Engineering & Distributed Generation, Siemens) suggested that peripheral service companies of the oil and gas industry “standardize (their equipment) like LEGO” to reduce time to the market and to be ready for the eventual upturn. On the subject of building employee talent in the industry, moderator Bob Vavra (Editor-in-Chief, Oil & Gas Engineering) proclaimed, “We need to recruit engineers like we do quarterbacks!” And when the panel discussed how regulations impact industry, Ge’Juan Cole acknowledged, “The public is better informed [today] about what is going on,” so the efforts to educate them on policy shouldn’t be ignored.
The next day, there were multiple breakout sessions for attendees to check out. Among the presentations I saw, I visited one that was hosted by Stacey Jarlsberg (Product Manager, Siemens) regarding the current development timeline as well as updates for PCS7 Version 8.2 that included Windows 10 compatibility and support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and for redundant controllers added for virtualization purposes. I then stayed put for the following presentation by Guy Burnaman (Manufacturing Technology Manager, DuPont) and Jeff Sibley (Global R&D Process Control Manager, Dow Chemical) on Siemens’s new process interlock, “dialogue-based” tool, the logic matrix. The team that developed it put a lot of effort into overhauling the interlock function block in PCS7 so that it could now use analog process values in addition to Boolean criteria and incorporate multiple-condition voting and time delay functionality without the end user having to manually code it in.
While all the sessions were certainly informative and while the conference overall was well-organized and enjoyed, I am equally anticipating the Siemens Automation Summit happening in Las Vegas this June.