Microsofts Global Energy Forum was held in January at
the Westin Galleria in Houston. The gathering offered a little
bit of everything for interested parties: some upstream, some
downstream, lots of intensive technology sessions and a keynote
lunch address from former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie
I was at the event to explore several action items. I was
interested in a session on proactive plant maintenance that
focused on the expertise of GenOn and Accenture. I wanted to
learn more about Microsofts efforts to ensure security
with its cloud-computing concepts that are being implemented at
sensitive refining and petrochemical facilities across the globe. And,
finally, I wanted to know what Archie Manning thought about
former Saints and Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips.
Thankfully, I was able to satiate all levels of my
The proactive maintenance data gateway (PMDG) is
based upon the Accenture plant performance solution (APPS).
PMDG correlates transactional and real-time plant information
relative to critical equipment and systems. The overall goal is
to provide management, engineers and station personnel access
to accurate plant and financial performance information that is
needed to support operations and maintenance decisions in the
most efficient manner.
This software suite helps a company like GenOn look at its
equipment via a life cycle, especially in procurement
procedures and keeping track of repairs. It also helps with
GenOns goal was to be less than 10% reactive in its
maintenance approach. The average industrial plant performs
more than 55% reactive maintenance work.
Fully implemented proactive maintenance allows for: station
personnel to be knowledgeable of roles; the personnel are fully
trained in utilizing maintenance technologies; staff members
incorporate this work into their daily activities; key leaders
can articulate maintenance spending and failure-mode levels for
station equipment; and activities are integrated with
maintenance efficiently and utilize root-cause analysis
programs to complete the maintenance within a work-flow
After the proactive maintenance session, I went to a
suite at the top of the hotel and met with Craig Hodges from
Microsoft. Mr. Hodges and I spoke about security issues and how
they can impact plant safety and real-time collaboration. We
also touched upon using technology as a solution to the
industrys aging workforce problem.
Mr. Hodges was keen to discuss Microsofts initiative
known as trustworthy computing. The company seeks to make all
the platforms it provides inherently safer. Microsoft works to
develop more secure code and it holds its engineering teams
accountable for the security of the code they deliver. The
other main key to the trustworthy computing concept is the goal
to reduce an organizations exposure to attacks, through
threat protection, detection and removal. Microsoft says it
collects data using various feedback mechanisms combined with a
global multi-vendor research effort to enable fast discovery of
protection against new threats.
Once oil and gas plants have a bona fide security system in
place to prevent mischief and worse, it opens the door for
real-time collaboration to be used as a work-around to the
aging workforce dilemma facing the industry.
The number one thing companies need to do is capture
and classify know-how. Many customers are using SharePoint
[Microsofts business intelligence and content management
collaboration software] as a way to capture knowledge and then
classify and retain knowledge, Mr. Hodges said. To
mitigate the culture change, business logic can go up in the
cloud through a hosted service and retirees can have access to
the data and contribute feedback to their
Mr. Hodges also wanted to note the inroads Microsoft has
made into downstream support. Companies like AspenTech,
OSIsoft, Honeywell and Invensys all have offerings available
that are built on Microsoft technology.
We have a strong ecosystem of partners that is helping
manage the refining and petrochemical process, he
Looking to the future, Mr. Hodges said that business
intelligence and better collaboration will continue to be a big
push. All facets of intelligence and collaboration are
constantly being examined and reexamined. The essence of all
this is Microsofts quest to help its customers find, use
and share data in the most efficient manner, he said.
Archie Mannings lunchtime address was well-received.
He touched on his time with the Saints, living in New Orleans,
having two NFL quarterback sons and some motivational themes.
For those of you reading not familiar with American football,
consider Mr. Manning like the star striker on a bad EPL soccer
team that is constantly getting relegated. Mr. Mannings
best anecdote concerned his former coach Bum Phillips, who was
one of his favorites. HP
Craig Hodges is a
executive who believes in