Welcome to Vienna!
Vienna is the capital of Austria and the smallest of its nine provinces. It is located in the heart of Europe on the banks of the Danube, stretching from the northeasternmost foothills of the pre-Alps. A large stretch of the city’s limits is defined by the Vienna Woods providing fresh air for its inhabitants.
Over 45 percent of the city’s area is accounted for by gardens, parks, forests, and woodland, another 15 percent is farmland and 5 percent water. 35 percent of all journeys in the city are by public transportation – a European record. Vienna is also the only major capital with a significant wine-growing industry – cultivating mainly white wines on some 700 hectares – within the city limits.
Vienna is old, Vienna is new – and so varied: from the magnificent Baroque buildings to “golden” Art Nouveau to the latest architecture. And over 100 museums beckon…
For the employees of international companies working abroad (expatriates), Vienna is the most livable city in the world. Proof of this can be found in the Mercer study, which surveyed expatriates around the world and awarded the top position to the city in 2015 for the sixth time in a row. This explains why international organizations and renowned global corporations feel so at home in Vienna.
At a glance
Area: 415 km2
Population: 1.8 million
Population density: 4,260 people/km2
Coordinates: 48° 12’ N, 16° 22’ E
Height above sea level: 151m (Lobau) to 542 m (Hermannskogel)
Unofficial anthem: the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss
Jean-Charles Guilhem’s interview
The importance of sharing experience to pass the baton
A check into the rear-view mirror is a surprising experience when you meet with PCIC committee members. You enter the rough cycles of an industry characterized by harsh environments and non-negotiable safety and security requirements.
Jean-Charles Guilhem missed the first PCIC Europe conferences, since the launch in 2004, but has caught up since. As Chair of PCIC Europe from 2013 to 2016 he doubled the attendance at PCIC Europe and launched PCIC Middle East. Currently in the role of General Assembly Board Chair, he consolidates the organisation of PCIC Europe for further development and helps the committee to take over new challenges and facilitate decision making.
For those who didn’t know, PCIC is about volunteering. The prerequisite for success is the discipline of all committee members and sponsors to avoid any commercial bias. Then, reciprocity applies and end-users, EPCs and manufacturers can share lessons learned from the field.
“This continuous and mutual share is crucial”, says Jean-Charles and mentions the revealing example of the variable speed drives. “Imagine standard equipment with up to let’s say 80MW motors. All of a sudden you have the VSDs and can increase the capacity in a revolutionary way.”
“Everything and its contrary was said – and also done”, he recalls.
This is a typical metamorphosis where PCIC, by sharing best practices and analysing failures, gains insight and can clarify the situation thus facilitating the integration of innovation in the industry.
Jean-Charles takes another example: “When the offshore took the dive and subsea became hot, every manufacturer began to develop their in-house design for connectors. Just imagine the mess for the deployment of a project where the main challenge consists in connecting the incompatible.”
“It is our responsibility to take into account project budgets by introducing common standards”, Jean-Charles adds. “This is the way we prevent accidents, avoid downtime and ultimately save money in the industry”.
He mentions the ATEX directive as another example. “We work in hazardous environments and the explosive atmosphere reaches far beyond the industrial site. How do we protect employees and residents in these areas? What is needed to comply with the very latest updates?”.
“Our role also is to demystify rules and regulations”, Jean-Charles says. And it is necessary to do it together, all stakeholders gathered around the table.
The digital age again requires understanding of new concepts, transformation and adaptation.
“This adventure is never-ending”, says Jean-Charles Guilhem. That is why the annual events PCIC Europe and the PCIC Middle East on-board more young engineers at every conference – to consolidate the current and jointly assist innovation.
Peter Pieters’ interview
Building the invaluable network of peers
“A start-up is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed”, says one of the many definitions available to describe innovation hubs. PCIC Europe is not a company, also it didn’t begin in a backyard garage, but it is indeed working to solve problems where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed – at least immediately.
While the up-coming 14th PCIC Europe conference, this year in Vienna, is a mature reference event for engineering excellence in the petrochemical industry, the first editions of PCIC Europe were more casual. The first two years the conference took place in Basel, in Switzerland.
Executive Committee Chairman, Peter Pieters describes how he heard about the event in 2004: “Someone just told me about it”.
“Everything was quite confidential then, and without any advertising. The only way to become aware about the PCIC Europe conference was through your own address book and good contacts”, he adds, pointing out the invaluable importance of a good network.
“I was then in a group implementing the ATEX directive, relating to equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres.”, Peter recalls, and mentions Dow and Shell among the end-user participants.
“At that time, nothing was organised in terms of logistics, so we had to find a dinner plan on our own. I asked another participant if he would like to go for dinner with me, and we found a nice terrace in a small square. Our discussion about electrical challenges in our work respectively was very interesting. When it was time for the dessert several other conference attendees had joined our table as they strolled by, so we finished the evening together, maybe ten of us, getting to know each other better.”
“It was a very pleasant moment”, Peter recalls.
“This opportunity to meet with new experts, dialogue and develop a network of peers is the beauty of PCIC”, he adds emphasizing that this is a unique opportunity especially for an end-user. “I will never in my daily work meet with any competitors”, he explains.
“The equipment manufacturers are the ones that capture the latest developments in technology because they interact with several end-users and consequently have the most complete vision of on-going innovation, successes and failures in the application of electrical and instrumentation in the COG industry”.
These lessons learned from real experience on the field when shared and analysed together between end users, EPCs and equipment manufacturers sketch the path for innovative solutions to complex technical challenges.
Thus, equipment manufacturers contribute in a critical way to set the agenda, but strict conditions apply, Peter underline: “none of us wants to listen to a promotional presentation”. Therefore, the committee, while reviewing the abstracts, will always ask for which end-user the described solution was developed and deployed, whether the case study details success or a failure.
“We are not interested in a brand and what you can sell, but want to understand in a practical way how we can apply the solution that you present.”
“In my case”, Peter says, “as I work in a company in the Middle East, I will obviously never have direct use of a technical paper about subsea in arctic environment. Still, I might learn something new that relates to a pending problem I have on my desk and need to solve. With this insight, I could abandon a likely dead-end and tackle my challenge from a different angle with brand new ideas.”
“This is what our conferences are all about – this is the PCIC spirit”, Peter says.