Triconex: Safety in Context

Monday, October 22, 2012 @ 06:10 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Good safety isn’t just about good products and technology, it also involves getting data to the right people in the proper context so they can make the right decisions.

“This business is always changing,” said Gary Freburger, president of Invensys Operations Management’s systems business during his keynote address Monday at the 2012 Americas Triconex Technical Conference in Galveston, TX. “The rate of change is much more aggressive than it has been 20, 10 and even 5 years ago. We don’t change very quickly. We have to support systems that are 25 to 40 years old. That is challenging and an opportunity at the same time.”

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Part of today’s view of safety is much different than it was in the past, Freburger said. “There is functional safety, process safety and occupational safety. Safety today really means all three of these things.”

All the data that is flowing into systems today makes it much more difficult for operators to understand what is truly going on. While this data overload is a problem, there are solutions.

“Software development is going to be more relevant,” said Rick Morse, vice president for the Control and Safety Solutions business at Invensys. “It will have the context of what is going on. Integrated context will give you an idea of what you should be looking at.”

“There is a lot of change in the industry to real time critical control,” Morse said. “There are different ways to do things. The devices on the plant floor today are just as powerful as the technology for the moon shot.”

To catch up on the new advances and boost productivity and safety, the catch is people have to be willing to change the way they do things and approach their jobs.

“Change is not comfortable word for this industry,” Morse said.

He added Invensys was making changes in their approach on how they approach the market.

“We are not changing the basics,” Morse said. “We are talking about adding stuff that allows you to get more out of your technology. We are also changing internally to get better synergy among product groups.”

One of the ways they feel they have to go is to take the complicated processes and make things as simple as possible.

“We have very sophisticated products, which means we have to send an engineer out to help with technical issues,” Morse said. “We have to simplify. If we have to send an engineer out to help, we have missed out on something. We need to simplify and streamline all processes throughout the workflow.”

“The commitment to be thoroughly current is important,” Freburger said. “We have some customers that have technology that is 20 to 30 years old and they say it works and whatever we add to it just has to plug in.”

Another area that has a huge safety concern is the aging workforce that has the potential to lose a good share of its knowledge base in the next few years. Freburger said Invensys is looking at ways to capture knowledge to help keep plants up and running.

Part of the change is showing where and what the company will be doing in the future. That is where Michael Chmilewski, vice president, control at Invensys comes in.

He showed a fairly detailed 10-year roadmap for Triconex hitting some of the highlights like wireless peer-to-peer, process safety management, virtualization, and security.

“We have to be vigilant and provide the tightest security as possible,” Chmilewski said.

“The shift is from being reactive to proactive for safety,” Chmilewski said. “You have to look at the current performance and reporting and making sure you know what will happen.”

In the end, whether it is safety or process control, it always comes back to communication.

“We need feedback. We need to listen and learn. There are areas where we haven’t done as good a job, but we are getting better. We have to ask ‘what is it we can do to help you be successful?’ ” Freburger said. “We have the commitment to be continually current.”

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