International Society of Automation News Release
Contact: Jennifer Infantino
+1 919-990-9287
jenniferinfantino@isa.org  

ISA’s 2014 Process Control & Safety Symposium attracts more than 200 attendees

All-new ISA technical conference and exhibition showcased by more than 70 expert speakers and keynote addresses by Peter Martin, Ph.D., and Maurice Wilkins, Ph.D.

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA (16 October 2014) - More than 200 process measurement and control professionals in chemical and energy processing and other process industry sectors attended the International Society of Automation’s (ISA’s) 2014 Process Control & Safety Symposium last week in Houston, Texas USA.

Drawing on the collective experience and knowledge of prominent industry experts and six ISA technical divisions as well as the support of the ISA Houston Section, the inaugural event outlined best-practice strategies and tactics to improve plant safety and security while supporting key quality, financial and cost-reduction objectives. Attendees took advantage of compelling keynote addresses; presentations by leading subject-matter authorities; a filled-to-capacity vendor exposition; and a diverse spectrum of technical and paper sessions, panel discussions, tutorials and training courses.

The event marked ISA’s return to Houston to offer a technical conference, prompted to great degree by demand and interest among the area’s throng of process automation professionals who work in virtually every segment of oil and gas and petrochemical production, refining and transmission.

Each day of the symposium, six technical tracks examined the key safety and security issues across a wide range of areas, including chemicals, petroleum, communications, control, instrumentation and control, and pulp and paper.

Note: The 2015 Process Control & Safety Symposium will again be held in Houston. The tentative dates for next year’s event are 9-12 November. More information, including confirmed details, will be announced by ISA shortly.

Keynote presenters reveal how automation can solve some of civilization’s most pressing challenges and can support effective decision making in crisis situations

The two keynote speakers-Peter Martin, Ph.D., Vice President of Business Value Solutions at Schneider Electric; and Maurice Wilkins, Ph.D., Vice President Yokogawa Global Strategic Technology Marketing Center-spoke how the proper blend and application of automation and human talent can solve critical societal and human challenges.

In his address, “The Future of Automation: Solving the World’s Biggest Challenges,” Dr. Martin asserted that automation can solve some of the key dilemmas facing human civilization-such as the scarcity of clean water, food, essential medicines, chemicals, inexpensive energy and other necessities-if human knowledge and automation are applied wisely.

“Too often we are taught that taking on these huge problems and challenges is not worthwhile because they’re too large, too complex,” Dr. Martin says. “But we’ve reached the point where we have the talent and technology in automation and control to take on these huge problems and challenges.”

A key, he points out, is the ability to leverage real-time measurement and control technology and know-how.

“The challenges before us require real-time measurement and control. Real-time fluctuations demand the application of real-time controls. Industry and business processes cannot be managed with weekly or monthly data anymore. More than ever, control engineers are need to apply the real-time systems technologies that can help solve these critical issues. In addition to controlling plant efficiency, process control can be applied to improve safety, security, asset performance, environmental integrity and profitability.”

The time is now to act, Dr. Martin says, emphasizing that “these are great times for our profession, but it is up to us as automation and control specialists to step up and meet these challenges head on. If we do, we could really solve things like world hunger, possibly in my lifetime. It may appear to be a dream, but it’s truly a possibility.”

Dr. Martin is a world-renowned expert in the field of automation, having held executive and technical positions in engineering, product and strategic planning, marketing, and training throughout his career. He is a recipient of the ISA Life Achievement Award, and has been named as one of the 50 most influential innovators of all time in instrumentation and controls.

He holds multiple patents, including patents for dynamic performance measures, real-time activity-based costing, closed-loop business control, and asset and resource modeling. He

has published numerous articles and technical papers, and has authored or co-authored five books.

In his presentation, “Are Machines Better Than Humans in a Crisis?: Machines Supporting Humans with a Standards-Based Approach,” Dr. Wilkins-using case histories of crisis situations-showed that humans make the most effective decisions when they are supported by modern decision-support systems and best-practice standards.

“More and more manufacturers are relying on standards-based decision support,” Dr. Wilkins reports. “This takes human procedural knowledge and integrates it into a standards-driven system. It optimizes the value of automation because it ensures consistent and safe operations throughout the company every working day. It also ensures that critical process knowledge is retained and prevents many common human errors that can cost lives and money.”

An example of a standard that has been integrated into automation is the checklist for pilots.

“Test pilots developed checklists for preparing for takeoff and landing,” he says. “Today, they are an established process component integrated into flight systems that have significantly contributed to aviation safety.”

Standards-based decision support systems are particularly valuable in crisis situations, Dr. Wilkins contends. Without them, he says humans cannot be expected to consistently and immediately:

  • Assess the type and degree of problem
  • Collect and verify essential information
  • Identify all options
  • Anticipate the consequences of each decision
  • Employ sound and logical judgment

“Decision-support systems support, rather than replace, operator judgment,” Dr. Wilkins says. “Moving forward, they will be making better use of historical data-‘memories’ of past events-as well as predictive analytics and cognitive applications (that can recognize human emotions) to make even more effective human decisions deliver improved operating results.” 

Dr. Wilkins, Vice President of Yokogawa’s Global Strategic Technology Marketing Center, possesses more than has 33 years of experience in human factors, batch solutions, procedural operations, advanced process control, benchmarking analysis and the chemicals and refining industries. A Fellow of ISA, IChemE and InstMC, he is actively involved in the development of ISA standards, and was recently elected as Vice President-Elect of ISA’s Standards & Practices Department. He was inducted into the Process Automation Hall of Fame in 2011.

Industry-proven ISA training in process safety and cybersecurity

Three industry-proven ISA courses in process safety and cybersecurity, taught by ISA’s globally recognized subject matter experts, were offered. The courses, providing the opportunity to earn valuable CEUs, included:

  • An Introduction to Safety Instrumented Systems (EC50C) - Covers the basics of the design and selection of safety systems, examining proper use of technology, level of redundancy, testing, field devices, and other considerations.

A sold-out vendor exhibit featuring premier companies and leading-edge solutions

The premier companies serving the oil and gas, chemical, petrochemical, and related markets presented and demonstrated their products and services at the exhibit component of the symposium. A special feature was Vendor Night, held on the evening of Tuesday, 7 October, when the exhibit hall was open to all automation professionals in the Houston area at no charge.

Attendees investigated the latest technologies and applications across all core solution areas, including:

  • Control systems
  • SCADA communications
  • Networks
  • Data management instrumentation
  • Sensors
  • Peripherals
  • Process and functional safety
  • Systems integration
  • Cybersecurity

 ISA appreciates the support and efforts of its event sponsors and exhibitors. They include:

  • aeSolutions (Platinum sponsor)
  • AICHE (Gold sponsor)
  • BakerRisk
  • Beamex (Gold sponsor)
  • Conestoga-Rovers and Associates
  • CPU, LLC
  • Det-Tronics
  • Fluke (Platinum sponsor)
  • GE Energy
  • INTECH Process Automation (Gold sponsor)
  • ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute
  • Kenexis Consulting
  • Mangan Software Solutions (Platinum sponsor)
  • MAVERICK Technologies (Platinum sponsor)
  • MicroPack Detection
  • M.V. Atchison & Associates, LLC
  • Owl Computing Technologies (Gold sponsor)
  • Prime Technologies (Gold sponsor)
  • Process Control Outlet
  • QTRCO
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Senscient
  • Siemens Industry
  • Ultra Electronics, 3eTI (Gold sponsor)
  • Waterfall Security
  • Wilson Mohr
  • Yokogawa Corporation of America

Media sponsors

ISA also extends its thanks to the event’s media sponsors, which include Alternative Energy Africa magazine, Automation.com, BIC Alliance, International Association of Plastics Distribution (iapd), Fire and Safety magazine (www.fs-world.com) and InTech magazine.

About ISA

Founded in 1945, the International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) is a leading, global, nonprofit organization that is setting the standard for automation by helping over 30,000 worldwide members and other professionals solve difficult technical problems, while enhancing their leadership and personal career capabilities. Based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, ISA develops standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; and hosts conferences and exhibitions for automation professionals. ISA is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (www.automationfederation.org).