Advancing the Automation Engineering Profession

by , | Aug 26, 2020 | Services, Consulting & Training

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

I saw an email from Process Automation Hall of Fame member, Greg McMillan, welcoming a new ISA Mentor Program protégé and resource (a.k.a. mentor). The goal of this program is to connect:

…early career professionals to more seasoned professionals who are willing to help coach, guide and share expertise. The program is conducted entirely online.

Greg also attached a presentation he had given at the AIChE Spring Meeting on the current state and recommended solutions for the automation engineering profession. He first highlighted the significant challenges:

  • Books by experts like Shinskey are out of print
  • Technology departments depleted or gone
  • Experts from the 1970s technological peak are retired
  • Practitioners gap due to hiring freeze in 1980s and 1990s
  • Industry publications and presentations often not by practitioners
  • Process production companies (users) reluctant to publish anything
  • Emphasis on time and money and doing more with less
  • Practitioners overloaded (no time or incentive for technical development)
  • Few if any onsite technical courses and mentors or libraries
  • Executives lack process control education, experience or understanding
  • Change and experimentation viewed negatively leading to copy jobs
  • Mistaken view that everything has been done and IIoT is total solution

Greg shared his ideas for how to best address these challenges:

  • Develop and support Mentor Program Q&A and Webinars
  • Develop and teach industry-based university courses and labs
  • Detail best practices in courses, publications and presentations
  • Increase innovation by process simulation and digital twin
  • Conduct and implement opportunity sizing and assessments
  • Deploy dynamic demos with “before” and “after” metrics
  • Deploy dollar metrics for process capacity and efficiency
    • Moving average for 12 hours (shift) and month (real time accounting)
  • Coauthor publications and presentations with practitioners

Finally, he shared how digital twin technology can drive innovation for improved project and operational performance across many phases of the lifecycle of a plant:

exploring <=> discovering <=> prototyping <=> testing <=> justifying <=> deploying <=> testing <=> training <=> commissioning <=> maintaining <=> troubleshooting <=> auditing => operator, system and process performance showing the “before” and “after” benefits of solutions from online metrics

Digital Twin technology for improved project & operational performance

Visit the ISA Mentor Program page for more on how to be a protégé or resource to advance the profession and make our plants and production facilities safer, more reliable and more efficient & sustainable.

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