Internationalisation – Challenges and Chances; an Interview With NAMUR Chairman Wilhelm Otten

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OTTEN: You are really talking about two trends there, namely the one you mention, and a contrary one we have identified. The latter shows that our members find that the necessary know-how is increasingly seldom available from specialists in their own company, so they are dependent on exchange of information with colleagues in the NAMUR working groups.

This inverse trend has in fact led to an intensification of work in NAMUR areas of activity in recent years because these colleagues then take something away with them for their place of work, whereas previously they did not need this because of the bigger and better provision in their own company.


“We Really Have Two Challenges”

PROCESS: So NAMUR recommendations are a kind of by-product of internal learning processes?

OTTEN: Quite clearly, the process of meeting and exchanging with each other and the precise working out are just as important as what comes out afterwards as a NAMUR recommendation. The latter is in fact only a dissemination of the knowledge. The colleagues who meet in the working groups, in contrast, have reached a much greater depth in the subject. This inverse trend is leading namely to a gain in importance for NAMUR.

PROCESS: How much understanding between process and electrical engineers for the tasks of the opposite numbers is still missing?

OTTEN: We really have two challenges. Process engineers still have too little understanding of dynamics and regulation technology. This was one of the reasons for founding our university working group. If you look at process technology institutes today, with a few exceptions, you can go through a training without ever hearing anything about regulation technology. This is an impossible state of affairs. Our processes, our competitive advantages, whether in work efficiency or in utilisation and availability of the installations, live primarily from the level of automation in our production installations.

Does Training not provide Fundamental Understanding?

At the same time, 70 percent of process engineers here in Germany still come from their training without an understanding of dynamic processes. On the other hand, there is still very strong influence from manufacturing industry on the training of automation engineers. A large portion of graduates from universities or technical universities go straight to companies as Siemens, Bosch etc. at the end of their studies. This is our big problem.