The head of the world’s largest automation and controls company has told a major gathering of power industry professionals that integrating technical staff is essential for the sector to capitalize on the opportunities presented by digital transformation.

Speaking at POWER-GEN International in Las Vegas, Blake Moret, CEO of Rockwell Automation urged peers to develop training and hiring policies designed to attract personnel ‘comfortable’ with the new demands associated with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT).
Blake Moret of Rockwell Automation
“One of the particular challenges for this (electric power) industry is the demand for skilled labour, people who want to do this type of work and are comfortable interacting with advanced, industrial control equipment.”

Moret noted the industry is on the cusp of great opportunity, once it incorporates the technology, and stressed the human factor in propelling often old-school utilities forward. Software tools have emerged, he said, that help faster interpretation, action and greater levels of efficiency. Positive implications are on hand for the sector, with the input of skilled employees vital.

“One of the things most important to address is the concept of lifelong learning, from High School and throughout a 40-year career. As technology changes we need an outcome-based education to meet that and that includes knowledge transfer and partnerships between learning centers and producers.”

“As control and information are integrated it requires companies to be more agile in how they structure themselves. It’s about adopting the technology and putting people in place comfortable going to these new areas.”

“Another aspect is scalability, all the data doesn’t have to go to the Cloud, and it’s about being able to perform control functions at the appropriate levels.”

“Harnessing this technology in a thoughtful way and starting with a clear understanding of your business goals the results can be profound.”

Moret added that nothing produces better return on investment than reducing downtimes, with the technology his company has been providing for the sectors seeing as much as 20 per cent improvement in efficiency.

His concluding remarks returned to the theme of staffing – producing technical personnel at home with evaluating appropriate data coming off the assets, taking advantage of the power of the IIOT.

“I want to emphasize the importance of people in this process, turning data into useful information and the opportunity to get true productivity.”