Rafael Stifano
Director General of Mexico and Central America
Rockwell Automation

Dedication to Oil and Gas Automation

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 12:28

Rockwell Automation is the only company in the world to be exclusively dedicated to industrial automation,” states Rafael Stifano, Director General of Mexico and Central America of Rockwell Automation. He believes 30% of its company’s business will come from emerging economies in a near future, and therefore Rockwell is heavily investing in Latin American countries, particularly Mexico and Brazil. Rockwell’s largest client in Mexico is PEMEX so in order to better service its client’s needs, the firm will be opening offices in Ciudad del Carmen and Villahermosa. Rockwell is also bringing in oil and gas consultants with deep knowledge of both the industry and automation applications. “These consultants are highly familiar with our global portfolio of solutions. They can transfer this knowledge to the local EPCs and to PEMEX employees.” Stifano sees PEMEX’s needs as being very similar to those of any oil company in the world. The Mexican oil firm usually seeks Rockwell Automation’s help to improve safety conditions, ensure successful emergency shutdowns, and guarantee efficiency and safety of its assets, facilities, and employees. Most of the demands from PEMEX target the revamping of big compressor stations. Rockwell has two main brands that are used by PEMEX: Allen-Bradley, which comprises controllers, drivers, and similar products, and Triplex, a line of emergency shutdown and fire alarm systems. Rockwell has a considerable installed base for both brands and many contracting schemes that can cover them.

“We have a concept in place called Primary Products, which allows the company to efficiently manage its inventory in Mexico for its vast portfolio of products and solutions,” Stifano explains. Part of Rockwell’s success in this domain comes from having a strong manufacturing presence in Mexico: two manufacturing plants in Monterrey and one in Tecate, representing a combined work force of around 3,000 people. This allows the company to manufacture the majority of its products locally. Furthermore, it has recently obtained approval to build a process lab for simulations so that customers and partners can see how these systems work ahead of purchasing them. “We are able to go to a plant, analyze the safety situation, bring in certified consultants, and perform a risk assessment based on the certification standards of the plant. Our consultants then draw up a series of mechanisms to reduce risks to a certain level before leading the risk remediation process,” says Stifano.

Given the company’s exclusive focus on automation, partnerships are crucial. “As Rockwell is dedicated to automation only, it does not have products commonly needed in PEMEX projects such as valves, copper wires, or cabins. To complement our portfolio, we have developed strong alliances at a very high level,” tells Stifano. For example, the company teamed up with Cisco Systems, which provides switches and internet infrastructure, and with Endress & Hauser, an instrumentation company, to integrate its intelligent instruments into Rockwell systems. Rockwell’s presence in Mexico has allowed its partners here and across the globe to become contractors for PEMEX and other companies. The firm has partnerships with integrators and local distributors that allow the company to deliver valuable services to PEMEX and receive input from its partners. In fact, Stifano states that 92% of his company’s business comes through partnerships. Through its Integrated Architecture system, Rockwell provides monitoring for various systems through one single control panel, which reduces training time, increases efficiency, and improves the bottom line. The PlantPAx process automation system, which is behind the integrated architecture concept, unites ControlLogix technology used on the programmable logic controller side, a single platform for multiple control disciplines such as process, vibration analysis, and motor protection. “Having a pre-installed control system helps our clients reduce commissioning time by weeks, as opposed to the reduction of configuration time alone. Our future is vested in the development of productivity tools in our control systems so our partners can benefit,” says Stifano.

In the past, Rockwell used to have many control disciplines for its various systems, such as the emergency shutdown system needing to be configured separately from the main control system. This created the need for multiple controllers with multiple types of intelligence training requirements. Now, with the Integrated Architecture model, Rockwell is able to provide the same functions under one single system. This adds value to any operation as time, spare parts, training, and operative processes can all be reduced. Critics of automation claim it replaces jobs and displaces people, but Stifano counters this statement by saying that “the complexity and the variety of the systems within PEMEX still require a lot of people. This is the nature of the industry. Rather than replacing people, Rockwell’s systems have made them more knowledgeable and more capable. They are now using tools that can improve their efficiency and the safety conditions of their workplace.”