Q&A with Jose Luis Salinas

Jose Luis Salinas—a consultant in Mexico specializing in hazardous (explosive) locations/areas and protection methods—possesses nearly 30 years of experience in automation and control. His broad expertise encompasses engineering, technical services, sales support, sales, training, and marketing. Within ISA, Salinas is Vice President Elect, District 9 for 2018-2019, and serves as a Delegate of ISA Central Section Mexico and Publication Chair of District 9.

Could you provide some background on your education (degree/s received) and academic areas of emphasis? 

In 1998, I obtained a degree in communications and electronics engineering from the Higher School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (ESIME) of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). My specialty is automation and control, with an emphasis on automatic control and industrial instrumentation.

I have received training on four different brands of Distributed Control Systems (Bailey, Honeywell, ABB Kent Taylor and Emerson), and on five different brands of Programmable Logic Controllers (A/B, Siemens, AEG, ABB Kent Taylor and FESTO). I have been accredited as a Specialist in Hazardous Atmospheres by UL University (ID: IC13827), and have been certified as a Specialist Technician in Fieldbus by Lee College (Fieldbus Center). I've also been trained in Germany and in the United States on protection methods in explosive atmospheres, such as Intrinsic Safety, Purge/Pressurization Systems, Non Incendive, and Increased Safety.

What initially attracted you to the field of automation (and specifically your selected field)...and when was it? Was there any specific thing that triggered your interest? 

In fact, I believe it was destiny. The institute (IPN) offered four specialties. The most popular option was communications, the second was electronics, the third was acoustics, and the last and least popular was control.

Since I started my professional studies, it was logical that I was going to pursue the electronics specialty.  However, on the day I needed to formally select my specialty, I-without really examining the reasons-selected control. I still do not know why I did so. There was nothing specific that made me choose it. No one asked me to choose it.  I was not inspired by anything. I didn't receive an internal voice, nothing, I just went and signed up. Even knowing that 99% of my friends and colleagues would select another specialty, I chose control.

So, as I earlier mentioned, my focus on control must have been decided by destiny. After 29 years of engineering studies and practice, I do not regret a single day in my life that I chose this exciting specialty. I think I found the perfect profession, since I have achieved everything that I have wanted to achieve professionally. I am passionate about my work, I enjoy what I do, and as a reward I am paid for it. It's great.

Please tell us about your current career responsibilities (specific position, company) and background, and area of specialty in automation. 

I am a consultant specializing in hazardous (explosive) locations areas and protection methods in Tlalnepantla Area, Mexico. I work at In Safe, a company dedicated to providing consulting services. I'm currently working at KAM Oil & Gas.

I began my career in automation in Bailey, Mexico, working in the engineering development department for an automation power plant. Later, I worked at CERREY, perhaps the largest boiler manufacturer in Latin America. I worked in the engineering department for the automation of steam-generating units, or boilers. I also worked in automation and engineering at Siemens Mexico.

At both Cerrey and Siemens, I began to work on commissioning and start-up of control systems. I served as a consultant in technical support for the Siemens sales department before becoming a Siemens sales person.  I continued my development at Pepperl + Fuchs, in charge of the sales department and technical support. There, I worked in two divisions: Factory Automation (FA) and Process Automation (PA). At the end of my period at Pepperl + Fuchs, I worked at Festo as well as KAM in the oil and gas, chemical, petrochemical and energy industries. I then worked for a brief time at Yokogawa as an instrumentation sales manager before joining In Safe.

At In Safe, I have the responsibility over sales and coordinating and developing projects related to hazardous locations, both in the Classification Studies of Areas and in the Analysis and Validation of the correct implementation of Protection Methods, particularly those related to Intrinsic Safety.

Could you tell me how you are currently involved with ISA? Do you hold any volunteer positions with the Society or your local section/if so, which section?

I am currently Vice President Elect District 9 for 2018-2019 as well as Delegate of ISA Central Section Mexico and Publication Chair of District 9.

As a volunteer in ISA Central Section Mexico, we in 2011 created the Fieldbus and Wireless Communication Committee. I served as its first director (2011 to 2012). I also participated as a speaker in the Functional Safety Forums during the ISA Expo Control (at five events), focusing on issues with Intrinsic Safety in SIS and safety machinery in factory automation.

I also served as Secretary of ISA Central Section Mexico during 2013-2014 and Vice President in 2015.

In addition to this, I am an article writer for the magazine, InTech México Automation.

How did you initially get involved in ISA?

My first contact with ISA was in 1989 (I had six months to complete my professional studies.), at the ISA Expo Control conference. I worked at Bailey at the time and my colleagues invited me to the show, to see the new Bailey systems. The ISA Expo Control was the largest of its kind in Mexico for more than 30 years. After I first encounter, I spent the next five years as an assistant at the ISA Expo Control. In 1993, I was assigned at Siemens to present the new generation of transmitters (Sitrans series). That was the first year that I participated as an exhibitor. This continued until 2013.

I would like to mention that I also served as President of Foundation Fieldbus Mexico for two years. In the last five years of ISA Expo Control, we conducted a forum and had a pavilion relating to Foundation Fieldbus-all in coordination with ISA Mexico.

What ways would you say ISA has benefited you?

It was essential for my professional development-and for staying abreast of technological change-to be involved in some way with in ISA.  My participation as an exhibitor at ISA Expo Control gave me valuable experience and exposure, whether it was interacting with people or collaborating as a volunteer in such a high-profile event.

Overall, ISA challenges you and keeps you committed to learning, sharing knowledge, and finding solutions to problems. All the while, you are surrounded by friends and partners and are recognized as a member of an important, professional association.

Participating on committees also provides new insights and experiences that are invaluable.

Do you have any advice or suggestions to young automation professionals entering the profession? Are there things that you have learned that you might pass on…to help them better develop their careers?

I encourage all automation professionals to get involved in the ISA section in your area. ISA members have a lot of experience and they are willing to share their expertise and knowledge. Take advantage of the many ISA resources available to you-whether it's ISA InsightsISA Transactions, technical papers, webinars, InTech magazine, and so on.

An important part of professional development is accessing information. Perhaps the greatest benefit of ISA membership is access to ISA standards online. This is a magnificent opportunity and we must take advantage of it. Remember, too, that many ISA benefits are available at discounted prices.

ISA is a great society and community, and an inexhaustible source of experience, information, and support for professional development.