Siemens Plans to Put Focus on Platforms
? On the question of drives, you are better positioned in manufacturing industry than in the process industry. Are moves underway to optimise the portfolio?
Herweck: If that is how you perceive it, perhaps we have been doing a bad sales job on this point, for the opposite is the case. As a manufacturer of drives for the process sectors mining, cement, paper or oil and gas, we are in a very, very strong position, perhaps even being the strongest provider of all.
? As an automation specialist in a conservative process industry, do you suffer from the fact that innovations often need a very long time before they are implemented here?
Herweck: We are of course aware that the process industry has different cycle times. As a rule, investments in this field are several times higher. But this does not mean that our customers in the process industry are not open for technology change. For here, too, substantial competitive pressure is noticeable. During my visit to the Offshore Nordic Sea Fair (ONS) in Stavanger recently, customers from the oil and gas industry clearly said to me: "We have to transform ourselves to adapt to the new challenges."
? In which direction?
Herweck: We will have to work out the technological implications of this in detail with each customer. But this never means that the topic of safety will be left out — absolutely on the contrary. Safety always has the highest priority in the process industry, exactly like availability.
But topics such as standardisation, which are very much more characteristic of the automobile industry, now appear increasingly often during discussions with customers in the process industry, whether in engineering or documentation. There are many points where one can achieve simplifications which provide added value to the customer.
? What kind of USPs will be left for you as an equipment supplier if standardisation makes further progress?
Herweck: I have no worries there. Developments and technological progress are always moving forwards, and standards, too, do not last 100 years. On the contrary, we support standardisation — alone because of the interests of our customers. New ideas also mean new innovations. This supplies new stimulus for competition and, because of user standards, they are made accessible for broad application. That is good for competition and good for the end-user.
? We have heard that a large chemicals corporation apparently uses Profibus in Germany, but Fieldbus Foundation in its plants abroad. How does that happen?
Herweck: One of our favourite or cult questions. In the chemicals sector, fieldbus systems are of course not so strongly present at all. Many classical plants are continuing to rely on four to 200 mA. Historically, Fieldbus Foundation has always been particularly strong in the oil and gas sector and also in petrochemical applications.
Alone due to the large number of American players in petrochemicals, Fieldbus has created a broadly installed base which was then taken over, due to acquisitions and merger activities, by other European and German producers.
On the other hand, German chemicals firms have in the meantime also set up Profibus-PA plants in North America. Perhaps not yet absolutely in the dimensions which we had anticipated, but with gratifying growth. We are firmly convinced that we can improve the position of Profibus worldwide, and with it Profinet, for, in the final analysis, it offers many advantages.