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Siemens on Oil and Gas, Ethics Questions for Leaders

Helmuth Ludwig sees the companies in Houston as a key part of the manufacturing renaissance happening in the U.S. Frank Bucaro poses eight ethics questions every leader should ask themselves.

There are a couple of things on my mind this month. My wife and I got into a discussion of business ethics recently. She was wondering how companies can sell products that are harmful to people “simply to make a profit.” I reminded her that my entire career has involved trying to make a profit. But the ethics idea resonated, and I remembered a conversation with a speaker on the subject.

>> Leadership Insight: Gain insight from John Berra, a leader with more than 40 years in the automation field. Visit

Before going there, here’s an analysis of a Siemens Industry event in Houston, Texas I attended Feb. 21. The invitation was for a “Siemens Oil & Gas Summit.” Turns out that Siemens has much to offer to companies in upstream oil and gas.

Helmuth Ludwig, CEO of Siemens Industry ( in North America, likened Houston to Silicon Valley, renamed “Oil Valley,” as he welcomed the first group of engineers and managers. He sees the companies and use of technologies in Houston as a key part of the manufacturing renaissance happening in the U.S.

The summit attracted about 300 to the forum and Siemen’s kick off of S7-1500 controller and updated TIA Portal. Automation World readers got an early look at these in my reports from SPS last November.

Ludwig told the group that “3Ps” were essential to Siemens growth the past few years. These are partners (where TIA Portal makes engineers more productive), product (such as simulation used for the Mars Rover, the 1500 controller and TIA Portal) and people. Siemens has 60,000 employees in the United States and is working to develop the workforce for tomorrow.

Richard Murray, PhD and Bob Lanier Chair in Urban Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, and Director Survey Research Institute Hobby Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston, spoke on the oil industry and public policy. “The bad news,” Lanier said, “was the election. The Republicans lost. And oil did not support Democrats. A better thing for the industry would be having oil supporters in both parties so that there is an industry voice no matter which party is in office.”

Oil industry automation veteran Jim Rogers, who now is automation advisor at Apache Corp., presented an historical overview of automation. Using juxtaposed photos from 50 years ago and now, he showed how over 50 years of automation has removed workers from hazards. But not in drilling. That slide had identical photos. The need is for better instrumentation on rigs, the next need is SCADA. Next you can look at drilling as a batch process. He has set up a project using a Software PLC to help remove workers from the hazard.

Practice ethical behavior
Frank Bucaro, president of Frank C. Bucaro & Associates Inc., located in Bartlett, Ill., writing on, posed eight ethics questions every leader should ask themselves daily. These include:

1. Find every opportunity to practice the virtues of integrity, trustworthiness, honesty and compassion.

2. Ask yourself, how is your organization better today because you are in it?

3. Weigh potential actions in order to cause more good than harm.

4. Ask yourself, how are you a better person because you are part of this organization?

5. Remember to treat each person with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves.

6. Be aware of whom you benefit, whom you burden and how that decision is made.

7. Find and identify strengths of the organization that can help you become more human.

8. Practice getting beyond your own interests to make the organization stronger.

I hope these resonate with you.

Gary Mintchell,, is Founding Editor of Automation World.


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