Gilsdorf: Wireless allows more data points
EDITOR’S NOTE: Honeywell Process Solutions President Norm Gilsdorf took some time during the Honeywell Users Group Americas Sym¬posium in Phoenix and sat down with InTech Editor Gregory Hale to discuss some of the hot topics around the industry today. This is part two of a two-part interview.
InTech: Do you see the oil and gas industry becoming less of a force with green alternatives coming in?
Gilsdorf: I think oil and gas is going to be very strong for quite far into the future. I think what we will see is oil and gas players will, and they are already doing this, call themselves energy companies and they will be embracing solar or they will be embracing some biofuels and green fuels. Remember, they know best how to distribute fuels to consumers. When you look at bio opportunities, it is just a matter of changing feedstocks. The refiner today can still participate, and in fact our brother company, UOP, has technology that will enable the refiner to take a bio feedstock to make a green diesel or a green jet fuel that is very high quality and can be part of a blending pool of a refinery.
InTech: You say wireless is gaining more traction in the industry, when will it be thought of as just another networking tool?
Gilsdorf: I don’t know if it is so far away. First of all, look at what wireless brings you today. Wireless enables you to access more data in places where it was not cost effective to do. I think the mold today is people are putting in wireless, getting comfortable with the systems; gathering that data. I think we will see that data, particularly in the area of reliability and asset management, will bring tremendous benefit. And then I think it will become even stronger and more ingrained with folks. Then it will become just a way of going forward.
InTech: You were talking during your keynote about huge amounts of data transmitting from the field. How are you able to get that data and put it in the proper context so people are not suffering from data overload?
Gilsdorf: There are two parts to that question. The first part comes from having to get the data in a common standard form in a database you can work from. In the past, the data in different organizations would come in from different departments, and it may be stored and organized differently, so you don’t even have a common starting point. That is important. The second thing is you have to work closely with your customer because he is obviously the operator of the unit and they know the process. So you have to work very intimately with him to then determine: There is process knowledge we bring, then there is the process knowledge he has and the business and operating knowledge, and it is the group of us that can then determine what is basically important from that common database to play out and select.
InTech: We have heard some experts say you should write off this year and even some saying next year. What do you think?
Gilsdorf: I don’t consider this year a wash out at all. First of all, we have a very strong installed base, and those customers continue to have things we need to deliver to them in terms of keeping their systems doing the things they need. At the same time, we provide a lot of advanced applications that help people further improve safety, reliability, or efficiency, and there are a lot of things you can do without a significant amount of capital investment today to get more value out of your enterprise.
InTech: Do you see the U.S. coming out of this first, or will the major economies across the globe all come out around the same time?
Gilsdorf: I think actually some of emerging markets will come out of this first. Today, when you look at China, that is one area where you see some more activity as the stimulus in China is having some quick effect. I think when demand recovers in some markets, some of those emerging markets whether it is India, Brazil, or even Russia, which is driven by the price of oil, might recover faster than the U.S.
InTech: Keeping the economy discussion in mind, what do you see as the biggest issue keeping manufacturers up at night?
Gilsdorf: I think it varies depending on where you are in the world and what industry. I think in some of the areas, one of the big challenges is probably understanding the demand. A lot of industries, you look at the chemical industry or some of the refining segments, and they went from a period of high demand and good pricing to a significant drop in demand and unpredictable pricing over night. So, now you might have to operate your unit at lower capacity or might have to operate at periods of time with the unit shut down and then back on again. And that is a shift in how you control and operate the unit to a strategic philosophy to pushing a unit to now running it at a lower speed.