Hey everyone! Here comes the next #pAutomator interview. This time, we have Tadeu Batista from Emerson. With 18 years in process automation, Tadeu speaks on safety and security now and in the future, while adding his advice for upcoming engineers!
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Please tell us about your background. What do you attribute your learning to, and what do you think about the current landscape?
I started my journey in 2000 in Brazil, when Emerson hired me as a project intern. I was lucky; the company assigned me to a small office that gave me experience in a variety of disciplines. Today, competition has driven us towards specialized professionals and silos. Performance has improved, but I’m afraid that we may lose sight of the bigger picture. We may also have problems replacing these professionals when they retire.
Safety and security standards in a plant are vital. How should the industry improve planning and adoption in this direction?
Security, also known as cybersecurity, works hand in hand with safety. The latest release of IEC 61511 clearly states that companies must assess risks and identify vulnerabilities. These standards provide the best approach.
ISASecure and the IEC 62443 define guidelines for complete security deployment, from product to system to lifecycle. But some companies may have trouble following all the guidelines at once. So reviewing the standards, then planning for the short, mid- and long-term will support successful implementation.
How has digital intelligence, predictive maintenance, and diagnostics evolved? Can you give us some examples?
Again, I was lucky. Back in 1996, Emerson released the DeltaV system, a platform built from scratch to natively integrate a variety of field instrument protocols. This system enabled predictive maintenance, directly affecting operational expenditures (OPEX).
Take valves, for example. During plant turnarounds, valve maintenance is critical. But before, technicians serviced all the valves because nobody knew which needed service and couldn’t afford to miss one. With predictive maintenance such as valve signatures, you can clearly define which valves need service.
Capital expenditure (CAPEX) projects have changed too. Smart platforms, with their flexible structures, have reduced project scheduling time and costs. Emerson innovations in smart commissioning have cut commissioning time by 80 percent, all because of the natively digital platform.
The CFSE (Certified Functional Safety Expert) standard has been globally certified. Do you believe schools should provide such certifications to make graduates industry-ready?
International standards only define the resources, skills, and experience needed to develop an activity within a project. I believe schools should add safety subjects, but I wouldn’t call that industry readiness. Nothing replaces experience—the certifying body requires both minimum industry experience and recommendation letters.
What do you think of the idea that redundancy provides safety? Do you agree? How can we address such challenges?
Random and systematic failures affect safety and availability. Redundancy can reduce problems related to component failures but has no effect on systematic failures related to poor design. In fact, redundancy can decrease availability and safety in some cases.
On the other hand, component reliability has improved. Modern platforms now have better designs, resulting in fewer systematic failures. They also offer flexible redundancy in the architecture, required only where it makes sense. However, many users still include redundancy where they don’t need it.
Do you feel the industry is ready to embrace Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing?
Process automation is a risk -averse space. The control system, and to some extent the safety system, handles sensitive data. I’m sure we’re getting to a point where Industry 4.0 can show benefits while keeping the plant running safely. At a recent presentation on cloud computing and IIoT, Emerson’s chief technology officer made a point about the perception of cloud security, comparing it to how people used to keep money in their mattresses.
Can you talk to us about networking with globalized technology, thereby enhancing efficiency?
We live in a global economy with global competition. It seems obvious that companies who want to survive must create a global network in both products and services.
For products, research and development (R&D) demands qualified resources, while manufacturing demands large-scale production. Thus we have R&D in high-tier markets and factories in mid-tier markets.
The services part differs slightly but still needs a global presence to compete. Generally users want local support for facilities, but they’ll allow a global team for CAPEX projects.
Any advice for tomorrow’s engineers?
Be patient! In a recent intern selection process, it amazed me to see undergrads so anxious about their careers. Many wanted to know whether they should pursue business degrees after college. My advice to such students would be to be patient. Get a job, create your brand, and be the first person to come to mind for solving a certain problem. This doesn’t happen overnight—be patient, believe, and most importantly, work hard and play hard!