Security, safety and irreverence among ISA EXPO 2006 highlights

If you have a few choice words about your automation or instrumentation vendors, their products or services, you won’t want to miss the Birds of a Feather Roundtables on Tues., Oct. 17 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at ISA EXPO 2006 in Houston, TX. New at ISA, these forums are designed to bring together users of industrial automation solutions to discuss their experiences – good and b...


If you have a few choice words about your automation or instrumentation vendors, their products or services, you won’t want to miss the Birds of a Feather Roundtables on Tues., Oct. 17 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at ISA EXPO 2006 in Houston, TX. New at ISA, these forums are designed to bring together users of industrial automation solutions to discuss their experiences %%MDASSML%% good and bad %%MDASSML%% in an uncensored, unscripted setting.

Reportedly, vendors are not invited. The press will not be present at these roundtables either. ISA intends to encourage true dialog among end users, and only end users, about their experiences with automation applications, what worked, what didn’t and how problems were ultimately resolved.

Separate workshops will be held for end-users in process, discrete and batch industries.

“Security and Safe Operation of Wireless Devices in a Hazardous Environment” is another special forum offered on Wed., Oct. 18, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. The list of wireless devices used in industrial settings continues to grow. Questions frequently arise when systems designed for one environment are used in another, such as the potentially hazardous environments found in many industrial settings. The requirements placed on these devices and systems are much more restrictive than the WiFi access point that you have in your house. Intrinsic safety, NEMA enclosures and Class 1 Division 1 operation are topics entering the wireless discussion. Then, there are the security issues that must be considered when looking at adding a wireless system to your plant.

Peter Fuhr of Apprion, Inc. moderates a panel of experts that includes Jose Gutierrez, Emerson Electric; Hesh Kagan, Invensys; Sicco Dwars and Berry Mulder, Shell Global Solutions; David Lafferty, British Petroleum; Nacer Hedroug, Eli Lilly; Greg LaFramboise, Chevron; and Tom Phinney, Honeywell. These experts, representing various technology providers and end users, will address this maze of issues.

Peter M. Batey, refinery manager at the Alliance Refinery for ConocoPhillips, will discuss the extensive 235-day recovery process to regain full operations of the refinery and the many challenges faced by hundreds of employees and people in the area. In “Hurricane Katrina’s Effects on the ConocoPhillips Alliance Refinery,” the keynote address at Tues., Oct. 17, beginning at 8:30 a.m., he will also share a very important lesson learned during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and his refinery plans for the future. This will be a rare opportunity to hear an “on the ground” success story, and take away some proven tactics for the challenges you may be facing.

“We faced an unbelievable combination of unique challenges in trying to recover from the damage Katrina caused,” Batey said. “Things you take for granted like communications, transportation and accommodations became huge stumbling blocks in our recovery efforts. There’s no training for the combination of challenges that we faced.”

Reconnecting all of the instrumentation systems and repairing the physical damage caused by the storm was crucial in the months after Katrina, and Batey will recall an important lesson learned during that time. “As a manager of a facility, never underestimate the drive of employees and loyal contractors to really commit themselves to rebuilding. Hundreds of people, whose own homes had been destroyed, chose to work hours on end to re-establish refinery operations. They could have been home, waiting for their insurance claims, but they were here, working hard every day to bring this refinery back,” he said.

“Safety in the Process Industries: Equipment & Procedures that cannot do what we Want” is the title of the Wed., Oct. 18 keynote address at 9 a.m. Process industries in the western world are now some 40 years into formal programs and record keeping with respect to safety, lost time accidents, explosions and fires. Much progress has been made, but many more and varied processes are now operating. Engineers are sometimes surprised to find that equipment, including instrumentation, just doesn’t do what they had envisioned. It may be because the designer is trying to defy the laws of science, but more often, it is due to the designer not being aware of some feature of the plant and/or process.

Recognized as a worldwide expert on process safety, Dr. Trevor Kletz is the author of eleven books, including “What Went Wrong? Case Studies of Process Plant Disasters.” Kletz’s work includes studies of human error, accident case histories and investigations, hazards of modifications and hazards of computer control.

Key to the effectiveness of accident prevention and safety procedures is the attitude and diligence of top management. Plants can produce for years with slowly decaying interest in safety programs and spending on proper maintenance or upgrades. Often associated with perceived cost savings are insufficient training and inspections. Industry seems to learn of such lapses time and again in the course of a costly accident investigation.

The Rimbach Lecture is made possible due to the generosity of the Rimbach family. Honoring Richard Rimbach, long considered the Father of ISA for his lifetime service to the industry and for his leadership in founding the Society, the Rimbach Lecture Series reflects Rimbach’s vision in technology advances, training, and motivation.

Returning by popular demand to ISA EXPO 2006 on Thurs., Oct. 19, starting at 9 a.m., “Dick’s Last Retort” is an irreverent and thought-provoking panel discussion led by industry legend Dick Morley, the inventor of the PLC. The panelists are Avi Nelson, Joel Orr and Shari Worthington. Standing room only the last time it was offered, this is a 'can’t miss’ event, that promises to be both stimulating and entertaining.

Other events at ISA EXPO 2006 include Yapfest, a networking event for young automation professionals (ages 30 and younger) that will have food and live music; and Innovation Alley, which is a place to see and experience technologies that are either emerging or are soon to emerge. Built by Morley, Innovation Alley attempts to communicate the adventure of technology, the excitement, innovation and joy in building something where nothing before existed.

ISA EXPO 2006 technical tracks include Safety & Security; Environmental & Quality Controls; Industrial Networking; Process Automation; and System Integration.

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