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

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Does this mean, more engineers ought to come to your NAMUR meetings in order to understand better how much is already possible today using automation technology?

OTTEN: Yes, in principle it does. The topics for the NAMUR main meeting are of course always a balancing act. On the one hand, many colleagues come who are interested purely in the technology. On the other hand, if measurement and regulation technology wants to continue to be successful, it has to go beyond pure technology into process management. And then we have to show what advantages this brings.

This is the switch from a purely technology-driven organisation to a management-driven organisation. If we want to make further progress here, we cannot stay sitting in our technology corner. We must also sell the technology, realise it, show what added value we generate with it.


A Shift of View Ahead?

What current issues occupy you most at the moment?

OTTEN: Internally at NAMUR we are currently debating the need for a shift from the purely equipment-based view to a process-based view. This is also reflected in the NAMUR working groups. We have, for example, two fields of work which are more equipment-oriented, while working groups one and four can be seen as more process-oriented. Keeping both aspects in view is a balancing act which requires very intensive discussion about the relative positions of these views.

The conclusion is that we must have stronger networking among our four working groups. To enable a common understanding to develop here, there will first of all be a strategic meeting with the leaders and selected colleagues from the working groups, for we will not be able to solve these problems with rigid structures. The question is: How must we adapt our organisational structure so that we can work through these topics more efficiently?

“We can not be interested in that”

Are there developments which you, as NAMUR chairman, do not welcome?

OTTEN: Oh yes, the big topic of international norming. The way it is being run at the moment or—more precisely—not being run does not suit us at all. The original sense of norming is of course to set certain standards, to simplify technology and to accelerate its spread.

But what we often see is that norming is increasingly being used to build up barriers, whether around countries or on the manufacturering side, in order to cement proprietary solutions. That cannot of course be what something like NAMUR is interested in. Another point is the regrettable trend that we are increasingly having to resort to components which have an ever shorter service lifetime and do not fit in with the long service life of our production installations. We need to keep a careful watch on the balancing act between long service life, availability and cost optimisation.

Mr. Otten, thank you for speaking to us. ●

* The interview was conducted by PROCESS Chief Editor Gerd Kielburger.