11/01/2021 | Digital Innovation

Interview with Miguel Angel Fernandez | Siemens

The process industry is being driven by an array of new technology. Miguel Angel Fernandez, Vice President of Sales, Siemens AG, talks all things automation, simulation and digitisation.

Miguel Angel Fernandez has been responsible for chemical industry sales since 2008 with a portfolio including automation systems, field-instrumentation, and digitalisation. Here, he faces six quick questions on a range of topics.

ACHEMA Inspire: How important is the focus in Digitalisation right now?  

  • __Miguel Fernandez: As a company we are growing with a strong emphasis on the software business. A couple of years ago we began to integrate our engineering data into our process control data. We recently bought a company for the simulation of the process kinetics, which was PSE [the leading supplier APM software] so we now share data from different systems with simulation and this enables us to build up a digital twin of the plant for the customer. And this is all part of a path we took years ago so, for the customer, we don’t need to start from the basics. Also, the customers have started a lot of digitalisation projects. The challenges are in the details and the multitude of use cases and approaches.

 ACHEMA Inspire: Do you think customer expectations have been raised?

  • __Miguel Fernandez: Yes, definitely. We address this in different levels of consulting and we are very successful in operational ways. We ask questions such as: ‘how do I really execute on the shop floor? What are the best alternatives? What is the benchmark for addressing needs?’ That is where our customer expectations are coming from. And we have a portfolio which shows that we have understood where the challenges are and where future developments are heading. With that, you qualify and establish yourself as a partner for the future. We are expected to cover simulation, sophisticated engineering tools, Artificial Intelligence and so on because customers need to see need that you touch on these so they can select according to their needs.

ACHEMA Inspire: Can you summarise where you are on this digital journey?

  • __Miguel Fernandez: That’s not an easy question as I don’t know how it will progress in the next ten years in terms of speed, but I feel we have covered many things on the engineering and the simulation side and are developing applications with Artificial Intelligence and asset management. That is a wide field and I feel there is more to come. We will develop more in this area because customers are more interested in predicting and anticipating; if something fails they want to know why.
    In this, we are quite advanced, I would say. We want to create an ecosystem where customers can bring the adequate digitalisation elements together to complete a solution.

ACHEMA Inspire: Would you say that, in your view, Simulation and AI are now coming to the fore?

  • __Miguel Fernandez: Career patterns have changed. People want to move on after a few years so knowledge accumulation is not the same. This means you need to run your plant with more intelligent systems. Simulation plays an important role because it allows you to do modifications and evaluate their impact without touching the real plant. It saves costs but also captures large parts of knowledge.
    We need to have systems that can anticipate anomalies and malfunctions and understand their impact ahead of time and why they occur. What is the pattern that leads to these? For example, how can the AI of tomorrow anticipate a gas leakage?

ACHEMA Inspire: And what do you see as the dangers?

  • __Miguel Fernandez: Cybersecurity is really important as both IT and OT need to be protected. It’s also important to bring the people along. There will be a lot of transformation in companies and you need to include everyone. The danger is that solutions are not accepted. They need to be their solutions, not something top-down, given to them. We can have great solutions but, if people don’t like them or do not apply them, they’re worthless.

ACHEMA Inspire: Do you have a listening culture within your company?

  • __Miguel Fernandez: I’m proud to say we do. As I said, we started this journey years ago and the management is very focused on the future. We can see there are many changes we are facing in the economy and industry that will have an impact on us and management is listening to address and to understand them.
    My role in looking after vertical chemicals has been growing over the years because management has been listening more and more to the specifics of the different industries.

    Miguel Fernandez will be presenting on the subject of ‘Chemistry is going cyclic - closing the loop for a sustainable future’ at Pulse on June 16.

| Original version published in ACHEMA Inspire, June 2021. |


Richard Burton

Editor / World Show Media


Keywords in this article:

#automation, #digitalisation, #simulation

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