Hundreds of Automation Professionals from Around the World Share Challenges, Solutions at ISA Automation Week 2012 in Orlando
More than 1,200 automation professionals, hailing from dozens of countries around the world, exchanged best practices and technical solutions during ISA Automation Week 2012 in Orlando (FL USA).
The annual conference featured technical sessions in two Technology Excellence tracks focused on security and wireless; and four Operational Excellence tracks focused on safety and environmental performance, control performance, asset performance and human performance. The technical program was chaired by Dr. Peter Martin, Vice President of Business Value Solutions at Invensys.
Dr. Martin’s technical achievements were recently recognized by Fortune magazine, which named him a Hero of U.S. Manufacturing. He was also named as one of the 50 Most Influential Innovators of All Time by InTech magazine, and is a past recipient of ISA’s Life Achievement Award. “The ISA Automation Week program was designed to provide perspectives on how automation technology and talent can drive business value and meet the daunting needs of industry as the business moves toward real-time variability,” said Dr. Martin. “We are at the dawn of a transition, and it will be control and automation engineers who will need to step up to meet the challenges presented by the real-time world.”
In addition to more than 60 technical conference sessions, attendees enjoyed three executive keynote presentations, networking receptions, standards committee meetings, training courses and leadership meetings.
Tuesday’s keynote address was delivered by Greg Hale, Chief Safety Officer and Vice President, Worldwide Standards and Auditing at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Hale’s presentation provided insights on Disney’s innovative creation of technology to drive guest satisfaction and keep employees safe throughout the world. Disney’s attention to detail for safety and ongoing maintenance is virtually unmatched in any industry, and the Disney team has been developing and using leading-edge technology for decades. For example, Disney uses maintenance management software that incorporates handheld wireless devices carried by personnel to deliver critical maintenance and safety information including task workflows, status of work tasks, qualifications of personnel, completion of safety checks, and delivery of safety monitoring information real time in thousands of locations.
In addition to Disney’s incredible safety and maintenance technology, the Disney team has developed efficiency innovations with the FirstPass system, improving utilization and throughput of attractions while increasing guest satisfaction; and contributed greatly to the accessibility of Disney parks around the world with Assistive Technology Devices to enhance the experience of guests with disabilities.
Wednesday’s keynote address featured a dynamic panel of industry executives, discussing challenges and insights into the future of automation and industry issues. Panelists included 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.; and Chet Mroz, President and CEO, Yokogawa Corporation of America. Moderated by Dr. Martin, the panel discussed critical topics facing industry, including the changing nature of the workforce, plant and process safety, the convergence of technology, and the role of automation in manufacturing competitiveness.
Thursday’s keynote featured Travis Capps, Vice President of Energy and Gases at Valero Energy Corporation. Capps discussed top energy trends and challenges, engaging with the audience to challenge automation professionals to consider how their day-to-day decisions in automation and controls dramatically impact the efficiency, profitability and long-term sustainability of their companies. Capps shared his insight into today’s most significant challenges, and the importance of the link between process control and the enterprise level of operations.
“ISA Automation Week has been a stimulating, friendly, learning-intensive event,” commented attendee Pousga Kabore of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria.
Attendees enjoyed two evening networking receptions, kicking off with a “Fireside Chat” session with the “Father of the PLC,” Dick Morley, on Tuesday evening. Morley’s Chat offered attendees a rare opportunity to sit and talk with one of automation’s best known legends, a leading visionary in the field of advanced technology development and an inventor who holds more than 20 technology patents.
Wednesday evening’s Beach Party reception, celebrating ISA’s workforce development partnership with FIRST®, was hosted by NASCAR® driver Jennifer Jo Cobb, Disney’s Greg Hale, and Calum Pearson, Vice President of Technical and Show Support at Cirque du Soleil. Cobb, one of NASCAR’s most successful female drivers, stressed the importance of technology and innovation in her sport, thanking automation professionals for their dedication. Hale and Pearson expressed their support of ISA’s partnership with FIRST, an organization dedicated to the inspiration and recognition of science and technology. Pearson called on ISA Automation Week attendees to become mentors of FIRST teams around the world, calling on engineers and technicians to “mentor and coach the next generation, because they need your help and your guidance.” Pearson is a long-time supporter of FIRST and a second-year speaker at ISA Automation Week. “This is an awesome event where technology and people come together,” he said.
“The networking opportunities were fantastic. Sharing information and participating in in-depth conversations about critical topics like process automation safety made the late nights and bleary-eyed mornings worth it,” commented attendee Eloise Rouche of Dow Chemical Company.
Planning is underway for ISA Automation Week 2013, with details to be announced in the coming weeks. “We’ve had an incredible week, with dozens of true legends in their fields sharing their knowledge and insights with a motivated, excited group of attendees,” said ISA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Gouhin. “The program committee, chaired by the renowned Dr. Peter Martin, delivered high-quality, engaging sessions that dovetailed technical applications with bottom-line business results. We’re going to continue that focus in 2013, building on themes of operational excellence, management and technology, and how these disciplines come together to increase profitability.”
Gouhin wasn’t the only one to talk about the future — in a special press event following Hale’s keynote address, MAVERICK Technologies’ Founder and CEO Paul J. Galeski announced a three year strategic partnership with ISA. MAVERICK Technologies will be ISA’s Premier Strategic Partner for Systems Integration, engaging with ISA members and customers to offer thought leadership and expert resources. “We have invested in this relationship because of our love for the automation discipline and a belief that, working with ISA, we can help create change in manufacturing,” said Galeski.