Many of the Industry 4.0 technologies are at the initial innovation trigger phase and will continue to evolve over the next decade. “We are at just the beginning of an evolution.”
EARLIER THIS YEAR, SPHERA HOSTED TWO INSPIRE USER CONFERENCES–ONE IN SAN ANTONIO AND THE OTHER IN Barcelona, Spain. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a little taste of what you missed.
The first inspire user conference officially kicked off on May 7 with nearly 450 people packing the Independence Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort in San Antonio.
To start the day off, attendees were shown Sphera’s “Environment of Change” video narrated by Ellen Bremseth, Sphera’s marketing communications manager. “Looking back on Sphera’s remarkable first three years,” she said, “one word comes to mind: change. In just three years, Sphera has changed the Environmental Health & Safety space in ways many people never thought imaginable.”
She later added: “From Oil & Gas to chemicals to government to manufacturing and more, Sphera’s robust solutions have made the world a safer place to be. Our legacy is told in the stories we hear about—the incident that was avoided, the near-miss that never was and the way our clients continue to excel and achieve extraordinary things.”
Speaking of achievement, Neal Rosen, the conference emcee and Sphera’s vice president of solution consulting/engineering, was able to attain a moment of levity early in the conference by joking about how he got attached to his Western duds he wore at the 2017 inspire conference. He showed some photos of himself shooting hoops, mowing the lawn and cooking up a mean-looking burger with hat and vest in tow.
He closed his remarks by pumping up the crowd and saying: “It’s time to share best practices, it’s time to network, and it’s time to push Operational Excellence higher” while the “Rocky” theme, “Gonna Fly Now,” played in the background.
After Rosen left the stage, Paul Marushka, Sphera’s president and CEO, came out and welcomed the crowd to inspire by explaining that the Alamo City is the fastest-growing place in the country and one of the best cities for software engineers to be.
Marushka discussed the acquisition of SiteHawk, a Smyrna, Tennessee-based cloud software provider for Product Stewardship as a testament to Sphera’s continual focus on Innovation, Information and Insights.
SiteHawk offers customers a complete approach to chemical management through data, intelligence and reporting to support safety, compliance and risk management.
Marushka also talked at length about Sphera’s strategy for the future, which involves Integrated Risk Management 4.0 (IRM 4.0), which, through a data-driven, predictive risk management and Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) strategy, can help companies boost their business value while enhancing their Operational Excellence (See Cover Story).
As Marushka said, many of the Industry 4.0 technologies, including smart robots and quantum computing, are at the initial innovation trigger phase and will continue to evolve over the next decade. “We are at just the beginning of an evolution,” he said.
Keynote speaker Dr. Robert Ballard, a nautical explorer who is also a professor at the University of Rhode Island, spoke later in the day. He offered attendees some serious food for thought on the oceanic world, sustainability for the planet and even life beyond our solar system. Ballard entered the stage to a familiar theme: “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic.” Of course, Ballard is credited with finding the actual Titanic back in 1985. “I know that song,” Ballard quipped.
Over the next 60 minutes, Ballard took inspire attendees on a riveting ride throughout his career starting from Day One: “I was born in Wichita, Kansas,” he deadpanned, “where all nautical explorers are from.” He even showed a picture of his first experience on a Navy ship back in the 1950s, and, to the delight of the risk-mitigators in the house, he pointed out he was wearing flip-flops in the photo. You can learn more about Ballard by reading our exclusive interview from the May 2019 edition of Spark at sphera.com/spark-may-2019.
Other highlights from the event included a discussion by David Stroud, Sphera’s vice president of Maintenance, Repair & Operations talking about the “pending data revolution”; Sarah Teague, a Sphera solution engineer, discussing the new SpheraCloud; Gill Pagliuca, the chair of the Chemical Hazards Communication Society talking about BREXIT’s effect on Environmental Health & Safety; and, of course, Mike Zamis and Perry Marchant, Sphera’s chief product officer and chief technology officer, respectively, taking the stage to give attendees a look at the company’s product roadmap for all on-premise and cloud-based solutions over the next few years.
With the Balearic Sea to the east and the Montserrat mountain range to the northwest, you know you’ve landed somewhere special—and inspiring—when you fly into Barcelona, Spain.
And creating a thought-provoking atmosphere is what the Sphera inspire user conference is all about.
On June 3, before Sphera’s largest EMEA conference officially got underway, attendees were treated to clear skies and warm temperatures. They also got to enjoy some beautiful views and tantalizing tapas while admiring the famed Font Màgica (Magic Fountain) and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia) off in the distance.
The next day, Francis Trudeau, Sphera’s Product Stewardship solutions manager and the event’s master of ceremonies, welcomed attendees to Barcelona. He then introduced Marushka who noted that Barcelona has become quite the business hub with 460,000 companies in the area. He also explained how Integrated Risk Management 4.0 (IRM 4.0) can help companies mitigate their risk by employing a data-driven, predictive and prescriptive approach to help keep their people safe, their products sustainable and their operations productive.
Inspire attendees also got to hear from Verdantix CEO David Metcalfe who presented the keynote address on why “Product Stewards Need Digital Solutions to Conquer Multiple Dimensions.” Metcalfe focused on three areas in his talk:
1. Why is managing Product Stewardship data such a huge challenge?
2. How does business context affect your approach to Product Stewardship?
3. Which digital innovations should you focus on to conquer Product Stewardship complexity?
“Inspire always feels like a big family reunion and a celebration,” Trudeau said after the event, “because so many longtime customers and industry experts get together to share their knowledge and passion for our industry. As I said on the stage, inspire is a highlight of my year as a Spherion.”
On the Product Stewardship side, the information train continued rolling with a fascinating discussion on product compliance challenges, including the three other REACHs (Korean, Taiwanese and Turkish) as well as on Russian trading blocs and more. In the last Product Stewardship session of the day, Sphera solution engineer Aad van Keulen led a roundtable discussion on “Product Compliance Challenges.”
Meanwhile, the Operational Risk side had a busy day as well.
Sphera’s Marc Dillon, the senior manager of product operations, and Saba Shadrokh-Cigari, a product manager, got the ball rolling with a discussion of what’s new in SpheraCloud by walking clients through all the updates.
After their presentation, Massimo Martino of Rain Carbon Inc. talked about the “Quest for Zero Injuries.” Martino offered an inspiring case study of how their organization is supporting the world’s growing appetite for aluminum and greener, lighter raw materials while trying to reduce personal injuries across their sites.
Sphera’s Scott Redford, a senior product manager, then took the stage with Simon Jones, Sphera’s director of solution consulting, to present an Operational Risk Management case study review of clients who are using software to deliver safe offshore operations; closing the loop between operations, maintenance and engineering; and delivering a real-time risk view of critical equipment.
Attendees at both events were also invited to visit the demo pods, Customer Care stations and Partner Pavilion to learn more about Sphera’s solutions and get their software and services questions answered, and nine companies were awarded Embracing Excellence Awards as well.
Well those are some of the things that transpired at inspire. We’ll see you again in 2021.
James Tehrani is Spark’s editor-in-chief. He is an award-winning writer based in the Chicago area.