Presenting the Seventeenth Annual ARC World Industry Forum
Achieving Breakthrough Performance with New Processes and Technologies
February 11-14, 2013 - Orlando, Florida
Achieving Breakthrough Performance While Managing Risk
The first day of the 2013 ARC World Industry Forum in Orlando involved well-attended workshops on cyber security (conducted by the US Department of Homeland Security), DCS migration, supplier selection, and market intelligence; an ISA 108 Committee Meeting on intelligent device management; plus six supplier press announcements. The formal program kicked off Tuesday morning with a compelling, thought-provoking general session featuring keynote presentations from ARC, NASA, and ExxonMobil, followed by an executive panel discussion.
The common theme that emerged from these presentations and discussions was how can today's organizations — whether a government entity on the cutting edge of technology such as NASA, a global integrated energy company such as ExxonMobil, or leading automation suppliers such as Siemens, GE Intelligent Systems, Rockwell Automation, or Yokogawa (whose executives participated in the panel discussion that followed) — take advantage of innovative technologies and concepts to achieve breakthrough performance while managing risk?
ARC Vice President Dick Hill kicked off the session by summarizing the participation at this, ARC's 17th annual Forum event in Orlando. According to Dick, this included 620 registered attendees from 22 countries representing 70 operator companies, 90 technology suppliers, and 40 different media companies, plus government, academia, and industry associations. Overall, 140 executive speakers and panelists participated in the four-day Forum program.
Disruptive Technology Cycle
As has become customary for these annual Forum events, Andy Chatha initiated the general session discussions with an overview of the most pressing industry drivers and key technologies and industry trends that ARC researched during the preceding year. According to Andy, what keeps most executives and managers at today’s operating companies up at night these days, is the need to achieve “zero downtime, with zero incidents,” the topic of the keynote presentations to follow.
Andy summarized the many new business models that are now emerging. These include:
Ubiquitous wireless access in developed countries
Inexpensive devices, access, and services (“apps”)
Fearless and connected consumers who will try out new gadgets and services
Motivated and focused entrepreneurs
Nearly “plug & play” environment for entrepreneurs in which numer-ous venture capital and IT firms are willing to help entrepreneurs
Ability for companies to reach millions of users globally
According to Andy, “Today’s technology cycle is both broader and more disruptive than in the past. Furthermore, companies with new business models are emerging. In the automotive industry, for example, hybrid and electric cars are gaining in popularity, several companies have autonomous concepts cars, most major automotive companies have launched ‘connected car’ platforms and are betting on their app platforms to stay connected with their customers. Car-sharing services are also proliferating.” He explained that the automotive industry appears to be evolving from a primarily manufacturing and marketing industry, to a service business. These represent disruptions in the way cars are powered, driven, connected, manufactured, maintained, and indeed, the entire car “ownership” paradigm.
Moving on, Andy explained that the era of connected devices is already upon us. In 2012, there were more than 10 billion Wi-Fi-connected devices, with projections for more than 50 billion devices to be connected by 2020. This will include more than five billion smartphone and internet users, most cars, and many home appliances. Free or inexpensive mobile platforms will dominate the market, including Android, IoS, and Windows. Andy believes that, ultimately, these connected devices will help create a smarter, more sustainable world.
The technology also drives new behaviors. For example, rather than going to hard-copy newspapers, magazines, catalogs or even the Internet via PCs or laptop computers to obtain information; many people now typically access information on their mobile smartphones or tablets.
Looking at the automation business as a whole, Andy believes that — due to the complexity of modern systems, the difficulty in upgrading software, the growing need for remote monitoring services, the growth of cloud computing, ever-reducing hardware costs, the current growth of supplier-provided services, and other factors — the automation business will ultimately evolve to one of performance-based managed services.
Risk Management at ExxonMobil
The next keynote speaker, Patricia Sparrell, Department Manager, Automation, Optimization & Global Support at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, explained the company’s approach to risk management.
“Breakthrough technology is all very exciting,” Patricia agreed, “but at the same time, we all have a lot of installed technology that we have to keep running safely and efficiently. ExxonMobil is one of the few companies that is still fully integrated, from upstream exploration and production, to downstream refining, chemical production, and marketing. We feel that this provides us with a competitive advantage and risk management is fundamental to this.”
Patricia explained how the company’s management systems have evolved for continuous improvement, starting with a focus on facilities and engineering starting in the 1960s; safety, security, health, and environment (SSH&E) programs, procedures, and practices starting in the 1970s; and SSH&E management systems starting in the 1980s. According to Patricia, “Prior to implementing the management systems, we were missing the hearts and minds of our employees in our efforts to manage SSH&E-related risks.”
The company’s management systems, based on continuous improvement principles, provides structure, a disciplined approach, and a platform for sustainability and continuous improvement. The risk management policies are defined within ExxonMobil’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS). According to Patricia, OIMS provides a structured, systematic corporate-wide commitment and complies with international standards for occupational safety, health, and environmental systems. The goal is to achieve safe and environmentally responsible operations and compliance with all SSH&E laws and regulations.
Managing Risk During NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity Project
Helmuth Ludwig, CEO, Industry Sector North America, at Siemens, introduced the next keynote speaker, Doug McCuistion, Director, Mars Exploration Program (Retired) at NASA. While the relationship between industrial automation giant Siemens and NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, might not immediately appear obvious, it soon became so as Helmuth explained how Doug’s talented and dedicated group of scientists and engineers used commercially available Siemens PLM software to design, model, and simulate every element of the Mars Science Laboratory’s (MSL) amazingly complex Curiosity rover and the delivery system in advance.
As we learned, this was key to minimizing risk and helping assure the success of this ambitious and extremely costly project; one that clearly required breakthrough performance.
Doug immediately picked up on this. “Managing risk and performance breakthroughs are two key themes. You can’t entirely eliminate risk, so you have to manage it,” he said.
Doug began his fascinating presentation with a discussion on why NASA selected Mars as the target for this exploration program. According to Doug, Mars has been in the human psyche going back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome and that Mars’ past continues to intrigue scientists today. He went on to explain the history of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program and why it had been so challenging to land scientific packages on its surface, which is very rugged and surrounded by a thin atmosphere. “Mars has enough atmosphere to be a pain in the neck, but not enough to help,” he said. Apparently, you can’t use supersonic, retro-propulsion thrusters in an atmosphere (as NASA did for the moon landing); requiring use of multiple techniques to slow down the landing craft and ultimately deliver the scientific package to the right spot on the surface.
Moving on to the rover vehicle itself, which – rather than just an extraterrestrial transport mechanism — is actually a highly sophisticated mobile laboratory with numerous complex components, most of which had to be designed from scratch or significantly modified for the project, conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in southern California.
On the launch date, November 28, 2011, following many years of intense effort by Doug’s team, the MSL Curiosity project executed a perfect launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida and the spacecraft, re-entry package, and Curiosity rover began their 8.5-month, 352 million-mile journey to Mars.
Although the scientific part of the mission has barely begun, the MSL Curiosity rover, now in Yellowknife Bay on Mars, has already sent back some amazing photos and metrological reports and uncovered the first hard evidence of what once was a very active river, and in fact, an entire history of water on the surface of Mars.
According to Doug, the mission involves a number of significant firsts for NASA’s Mars exploration program. These include the:
First guided (non-ballistic) entry
First mobile laboratory
First on-board analytical capability
First long-lived research vehicle
First metric-ton package