#pAutomator: Clay Lima, Automation Consultant Engineer

Today we have Clay Lima, Automation Consultant Engineer (Brazil), as our next #pAutomator. Lima is a technical engineer who has a high skill set in software engineering companies like Yokogawa, Honeywell, Elsag Bailey, ABB, Emerson Process Management and Westinghouse (Power Water Solution, a division of Emerson Process Management) and Invensys (I/A Series and today EVO Systems).

As a part of his career, Lima developed training material, functional design specifications, R&D Application DCS Programs, and holds a certification in DCS Engineering, DCS Maintenance, and Sales Support. Excerpts from the interview are below…

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What does Process Automation mean to you? With the rapid advent of digital technologies, how has this industry transformed?

Well, in my point of view, some users will be ready to use this new technology, such as Industry 4.0. Others, though, will need some time to prepare for it. Another important factor is possessing the know-how to implement this technology in standard industries. First, we need to analyze the factory equipment and variable measures. Secondly we need to make arrangements to improve performance. Third, we must start collecting all information from operators and process engineers. Finally, we start to simplify the process and implement these new technologies.


image of #pAutomator: Clay Lima, Automation Consultant Engineer
#pAutomator: Clay Lima, Automation Consultant Engineer

As a consultant, what are the primary pillars you keep in mind when taking on a project? Can you tell us more about this?

When taking on a new project, the first thing I do is visit the factory. Then, I talk to the owners about how much they want to invest in the technology. After this, I speak to the technical staff. Usually at this stage I must ask them some questions that they can answer objectively. When this is done, I make a plan that takes into account the information I have gathered up to this point. Then, I begin to implementation process and analyze the results. If they are satisfactory, I continue according to the same plan.

To leverage automation control solutions efficiently, what should the requirements be that we address as an industry? Do you have any recommendations in this area?

First of all, the automation team must possess the following profile: IT, process and instrumentation, DCS (implementation and startup). Secondly, some tips and tricks should be prepared to share in the industry, such as simulation training, to show final users how the best ways to solve problems and make the plant more efficient. Finally, I would recommend developing a good marketing and advertising scheme.

You have been a part of training sessions around the industry. Can you point out the major challenges that need to be considered, keeping in mind the industry landscape and scope of future engineers?

The instructors who provide the training must be prepared to qualify the students in these new technologies. To do so, they must follow these steps:

  1. Certification of the training instructor
  2. The product and solution (training focus) must be prepared and revised for senior engineers
  3. Material must be updated constantly to remain relevant and up-to-date
  4. A balanced training with a hands-on approach must be carried out
  5. A plan to certify all staff members (sales, engineer, technicians and market) should be implemented
  6. During the technical proposal, the training staff must be informed about what the company intends to sell to this particular customer
  7. During the classes, the instructor must request an evaluation from the class through discussion or written response

What is your approach to selecting the appropriate tools and solutions needed for executing an automation project? What are the primary parameters that you keep in mind for this project?

First of all, you must determine your budget and decide how much money you want to spend. Then, unify the Automation Manufacturers and work like a team. For this, you can use a DCS platform and use the same automation program (configuration) to create a process model. Thirdly, develop some tools (process simulation), depending on the results of the first and second steps. Then, you need a Mechanical Completion tool to perform a real-time update of all the items and equipment commissioned and checked according to plant modification, or new project implementation. This MC tool should have a link to Microsoft tools (project schedule) or Primavera schedule. Finally, prepare a training focused on the DCS and Automation plan.

image for distributed control system
DCS,Image courtesy of electricaltechnology

How do you analyze your Information Management? How do you track and collect information for a project?

The first thing to do is to schedule a factory visit. Then have a chat with the operations team. After this, discuss any issues with the maintenance team and analyze field operator procedures.

Next, you should collect some digital data. Some plants have historical data stored or use some data collection systems. After this, read the Operator Journal to learn about operator procedures performed in a DCS automation system, or if you have to you can write an Operator shift book manually. Then, check to verify that the P&ID are really updated, from the first start up to the day the diagrams and drawings are updated. And lastly, check if all equipment’s data sheets and specifications are good & updated.

Do you  have any piece of advice or recommendations for the next generation of engineers?

Here are some things to keep in mind:
Expertise comes with age, not graduation: Some older technicians may have more experience than some new engineers; Your title is important but in some cases, we must forget it to have a good relationship with all individuals involved in the project, Be prepared to train and be trained and lastly, study and live a life, don’t be a slave to your work.

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