Siemens Summit shows automation optimism

Aubert Martin, president and CEO of Siemens Energy & Automation, shares his outlook on the company’s performance and prospects during a keynote presentation at this year's Automation Summit.

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By Dan Hebert, PE, Senior Technical Editor

THE 2006 Siemens Automation Summit Users Conference was held in Las Vegas from June 6-8. Over 950 attendees gathered to share automation knowledge, enjoy the sun, and lose some money at the gaming tables.

     Aubert Martin

Aubert Martin, president and CEO of Siemens Energy & Automation

The performance and expectations of a company as large and diverse as Siemens mirror the economy as a whole. Aubert Martin, the president and CEO of Siemens Energy & Automation, shared his outlook on his company’s performance and prospects during one of the keynote presentations.

Siemens has 460,000 employees worldwide, 70,000 in the United States, and is one of the 20 largest companies in the world. Martin said that Siemens directly employees 30,000 software engineers, more than Microsoft.

Martin related that Siemens was very optimistic about automation opportunities worldwide and particularly in North America. “Worldwide demand for basic materials such as glass, cement, and steel is fueling the construction and expansion of plants across the North American Market,” according to Martin.

Siemens is participating in many these projects and has a goal to grow at 6-8% each year or twice the rate of worldwide GDP growth. A good example of how Siemens is meeting these goals in North America can be found in the fast growing ethanol market. There are 97 ethanol bio-refineries in North America with another 33 under construction, and Siemens automation technology controls 67% of the plants built in the United States in the last five years.

Martin related how Siemens aligns its business objectives and market focus with global trends. “Siemens has identified seven major global trends including a need for more safety and security, growing demand for environmental care, and scarcity of natural resources,” says Martin. Siemens plans to benefit by aligning its products and services to meet the demands that will be created by each trend.
Come to think of it, aligning our efforts to match global trends is not a bad idea for each of us as we plan our futures, investments, and careers. Identify trends, see how you and your company fit, and act accordingly.


The Best PowerPoint Presentation Ever?

HERE AT CONTROL, we are forced to sit through many extremely boring PowerPoint presentations. We are often culprits ourselves as our editors frequently deliver presentations, hopefully not quite as boring. We have found that the best way to make presentations interesting is to involve the audience in a continuous dialog so that the presentation becomes more of an interactive discussion instead of a lecture.

Unfortunately for keynote presenters at big conferences like the Siemens Automation Summit, interactivity is impossible because the audiences are too large. It is therefore of note that there were two particularly excellent presentations at the Summit, one by a Walt Disney executive and one by an automation professional employed by MGM Grand.

The Disney presentation gave a general history of the company and was interspersed with fascinating video clips. The relevance to automation was limited, but conference attendees thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Disney rose from humble origins and the vision of Walt Disney to become an American Icon.

The MGM Grand presentation demonstrated how the Cirque de Soleil KA show at MGM Grand relied on automation in general and Siemens products and support in particular for show production.
Automation moves the soundstages through precise motion control. Because performers are continually on-stage, these movements must be continuously monitored by automation systems, performers, and show technicians.

In one fascinating show sequence, performers used hand-held wireless controllers to guide their movements as they appear to fly through the air. Video clips vividly showed this part of the show, and other video clips were used to show exactly how the show could not go on without automation.

Of the hundreds of user group conference presentations that I have seen over the past decade, I would rate this one as the best.

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