#pAutomator: Isa Salimi, Sharif University of Technology, Iran

Today’s #pAutomator is Isa Salimi, a Senior Electrical Engineer at the Research Center at Sharif University of Technology, Iran. Salimi has eight years of experience in the field of automation projects. He works on FCS and DCS intelligent control systems, SCADA and PLC programming, servo drive, and motion control. In this conversation, he discusses the challenges of executing a successful automation project. Excerpts from the interview are below…

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Can you describe your journey in this industry? What is the most memorable part of your career so far?

For me, the most memorable part of my career was decoding UPS parameters which were protected by the UPS company. That was wonderful and, of course, strange. I had to read the parameters and make them show in the SCADA applications. I used some serials software and an oscilloscope to confirm the parameters. It was the biggest event in my career so far.

I have a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the Iran University of Science & Technology. For around eight years, I have worked on several automation projects in the roles of Manager, Supervisor, Team Leader, Designer, and Programmer. My skill set is varied and my entire journey has been a learning experience. For example, I have worked in sectors like Oil & Gas and Research & Development.  

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Since I have worked mainly on automation projects, I have expertise in terms of PLC, programming, software and hardware, proximity sensors and capacity sensors. As a part of my current role, I try to find control solutions and look for solutions to minimize production costs. Furthermore, I work to increase the production rate and decrease the time of construction and production.

Currently, I work in the research centre, where I deal with automation projects R&D. This concerns the deployment of automation solutions in projects. One should never forget that having the right skill set is really important in any industry.

How do you oversee the entire process of executing an automation project today? What are the main challenges and how do you address them?

Executing an automation project involves a lot of crucial elements. The major challenges here are the loss of human jobs, as well as decreasing the cost and time of production.

Loss of human jobs: With the rise of automation projects, there will be a higher probability of an increase in robotic access, with a simultaneous cut down of human access. Since robots are expected to handle other processes in the product line, the use of human workforce will decrease.

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Finances: We, as automation engineers, have to keep strategizing ways to decrease the cost of product and infrastructure. Thus, we would minimize the cost of product lines. This also means decreasing packaging, design and other capabilities.

Time: Engineers and designers need to consider the value of time at every turn. It is vital to decrease production time. When a manufacturer or company speeds up operations, it needs to produce more. Thus, improving product line efficiency will let improve everything in the industry. Our aim should, therefore, be to increase the number of instruments from 1,000 to 2,000 in a month. 

Can you point out the significant parameters of executing control solutions on automation projects?

When a company defines a new project, it needs to consider several parameters to execute it successfully. The project will include developing new control solutions from engineers, improving product lines, decreasing the cost and time of production.

At times, the nature of a project demands specific software and hardware. The challenge here often is to get them at a lower price. I truly believe that hard-working engineers with a good skill set can help develop control solutions. This leads to improved product lines.

According to market reports, the global industrial communication market will grow at a CAGR of 12.79% from 2017-2021. In your opinion, what will be the market drivers and trends during this time?

Today, the entire industry is going global. As such, people have a global approach to resolving issues. Owing to this, we observe that customers expect artistic designs in the product line. The industry is designing automation projects with artistic designs and expertise.

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The industry will certainly grow. In fact, the growth percentage will gradually increase as estimated until 2021. The most important thing to achieve this growth rate is deploying the appropriate skill set and an artistic approach.

In light of global competition today, what is the importance of the academic side joining the global stage?

Industry readiness is very critical today. Therefore, technical education is the key. Development of the products and the industry depends upon the technical expertise of the individual working with control systems. It is important to participate with human knowledge. This, in turn, leads to the growth of the entire ecosystem.

What advice do you have for the next generation of engineers?

The next generation of engineers needs to think outside the box. In other words, they need to think and look at the world differently. We live in a globalized world and there are a lot of instruments to explore. The most important thing is to be open to learning from others.  

Any feedback on our platform Visaya…

I believe Visaya acts as a knowledge base for the engineers who are just out of universities. When executing automation projects, they need to have hands-on knowledge and information. So, Visaya is for them. It helps young engineers by educating them appropriately.

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