The PAS Technology Conference is in session May 19-21. PAS bills itself as the “Human Reliability” company, and indeed reliability broadly speaking was a conference theme. This is also a celebration of PAS’s 20th anniversary, and historical references were everywhere.Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO, introduced the Conference Theme of Connecting the Dots by looking at the thinking of Ray Kurzweil, futurist and author (“The Age of Spiritual Machines” and “Singularity”). Noting that 86% of the predictions Kurzweil made in his Machines book have already come true, Habibi said that futurists work by bringing together various technologies into some ideas on trends—connecting the dots.
He was the first of several who talked about first looking at assets as data, then relating to the actual physical asset. Data can be collected, organized, contextualized, and displayed to help operations and maintenance make a reliable plant and increase the company’s profitability.
Inspiration, collaboration, invention
Habibi concluded, “Opportunities are there for us as a company that brings software solutions to great customer relationships. Customers bring inspiration, collaboration, and invention. We’re excited about it, and we want to be here another 20 years.”
At dinner the night before, I had the opportunity to talk to two of the conference’s keynoters who are both with production companies. Keith Dicharry is director of Controls and Instrumentation at BASF and Andy Geddes is controls and instrumentation manager for Scottish Power (as in the UK). Both were eloquent in their descriptions about the engineer’s role in helping maintenance and operations achieve a reliable plant.
Dicharry said in his keynote, “If we increase the reliability of equipment, we will increase our profitability. The goal for increasing reliability is to increase access to data. I want a rotating equipment engineer in Germany to be able to talk to a rotating equipment engineer in the US about a compressor where they can both look at all the data sets and figure out why one works well and the other has problems on a conference call rather than a flight across the pond.”
Harvey Ivey, manager of instrumentation and control systems and field support at The Southern Company, told the conference the story about how he worked with operators and others to develop displays that would give operations situational awareness of the health of their processes at a glance. His work, and collaboration with PAS, led to the development of the PowerGraphix product.
Alstom, in another conference announcement, has done much research on improving performance resulting in an agreement for it to become a reseller of PowerGraphix to its customers.
The day’s final announcement involved another partnership—this time PAS and Tripwire—a provider of risk-based security and compliance management solutions. The partnership is part of the Tripwire NERC Alliance Network Program that has been designed to foster collaboration on critical infrastructure compliance and security solutions to help companies efficiently and effectively achieve NERC CIP compliance.
According to PAS, the integration between the PAS Integrity Software Suite and Tripwire NERC Solution Suite will provide mutual energy customers with automation software that reduces the time and resources required to collect audit evidence. The integration brings a consistent approach to the management and maintenance of secure configurations across a wide range of devices including Industrial Control Systems (ICS), SCADA, Microsoft Windows and Windows Servers.