konnect Issue-date: 30th September, 2019.

ISA-EWAC 2019: where standardisation met practicality for Utility
Automation Engineers.

-JASIR SABRI,
(Founder, CONSYST)

(This is a brief report on the first Energy & Water Automation Conference (EWAC) 2019 organized by International Society of Automation on 7th & 8th August, 2019 at Orlando, Florida)

Whether in the US or around the world, it has been a challenge for automation engineers and managers in the utility sectors to convince the top management to invest in automation. Though greenfield projects in many countries are preloaded with enough instrumentation and automation stuff, timely maintenance and upgrades do not happen and hence many decades old systems have wearied out and are unable to perform. The keynote session by Dean Ford, CAP, PE (Managing Principal Engineer/Ex. VP, Westin Technology Solutions) urged all automation engineers to make necessary noise inside the organization to improve the situation. He also asked why there is no role like CAO (Chief Automation Officer) in end user organizations.

The two-day conference held in the beautiful city of Orlando, Florida, which is better known for Disney Land, was organized very well into three tracks – SCADA, Alarm Management & Optimization, Instrumentation & Communication and Industrial Cybersecurity & Safety. The conference was chaired by Manoj Yegnaraman, PE, CP, CE (Associate VP & Principal I&C Engineer, Carollo Engineers Inc.).

Of the many topics discussed at the conference that benefitted me, I would love to highlight two of which I think were so enlightening to me. Those were the discussions around High Performance HMI Design and Asset Nomenclature Standardization:

Based on my experience in the industry, I personally come across so many cases where HMI design without following relevant standards affecting situational awareness of the operator. The conference discussed the issue and proposed solutions and introduced related ISA standards to the delegates.

Similarly lack of standardization for asset nomenclature has been a pain on the neck, especially for integrators working on OT-IT Integration. This issue was also discussed in multiple sessions giving enough importance and various standardization methods were introduced.

I too had an opportunity to make a presentation at the conference. It was a case study presentation of a turnkey project that CONSYST commissioned recently in the Water/Wastewater sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The project was to integrate the RTUs and PLCs from many remote facilities – Pump Stations, WTPs, STPs, Well stations etc. to a Central Control Room with complete SCADA package, Asset Management and Analytics Platform.

To conclude, it was a nice experience and a great opportunity to attend the conference in terms of sharing experience and consuming knowledge. The conference was also a platform to meet people from around the working around Water & Power Industries.

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Jasir Sabri’s presentation at ISA EWAC 2019



When all the speakers of ISA EWAC 2019 joined for a pre-conference dinner



With Manoj Yegnaraman, Conference Chair, ISA EWAC 2019