Our man in Washington

01/02/2019 09:00
Our man in Washington

Back in 2017, Matthew Maclennan, Mechanical Design Engineer at Steve Vick International, blew the judges away with his YPPC entry.

Winning the final with his paper on the development of Steve Vick’s SMARTester, an integrated wireless pressure testing system, Matthew was thrilled to take home the trophy and that incredible prize of a trip to the World Gas Conference, held in Washington.

The World Gas Conference is held every three years in the country holding the presidency of the International Gas Union (IGU). WGC 2018 marked the culmination of the USA presidency, under the theme ‘Fuelling the Future’, and promoted the IGU’s key objectives of raising the voice of natural gas while offering timely updates.

Matthew described the conference as a “mind-blowing” experience having returned from the world’s most important global gas industry gathering of influential leaders, policy-makers, buyers, sellers and experts in June.

“I met some really interesting people that had a completely different way of seeing the value of natural gas,” said Matthew, who walked an average of five miles a day as he traversed the massive exhibition.

Among the speakers, Matthew singled out Michael Hardy, of French company GRTgaz, who demonstrated how a consolidated and well organised innovation team can deliver high quality solutions to real world challenges in the gas distribution industry. He also found Wim Van Grunderbeek’s account of Gasunie’s award-winning VR product particularly engaging.

“Using ground penetrating radar and machine learning has allowed them to build a highly accurate view of the subsurface world,” explained Matthew. “The highlight of the presentation was seeing the augmented reality technology used to display information back to the user.”

Matthew was especially impressed with the extensive exhibition space, which he spent many an hour exploring. “I had a go on the DNV GL virtual reality stand, extinguishing a methanol fire with all the right PPE on,” he said. “And Chevron used their enormous TV screen to broadcast the Football World Cup, which drew some big crowds as England took on Belgium.”

Matthew won the YPPC title for his paper on the development of the SMARTester system, which comprises a handset, an app and a dashboard database. It provides a searchable bank of definitive test evidence, giving the user reassurance of absolute traceability. The stainless steel sensor sends data to the app where every step of the test is recorded, helping to drive competency and give engineers the confidence that their good practice is verified.

Having played a key role in developing SVI’s SMARTester, Matthew was particularly interested in the metering products on show. “Examples of tooling and intelligent bracketry caught my eye,” he added.

Away from the conference, Matthew took the opportunity to explore Washington, fulfilling a lifelong ambition to see the space shuttle Discovery at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Discovery flew 39 missions, more than any other spacecraft in history,and logged more than a year inspace. It became the first of NASA’s three shuttles to be retired when it landed a final time from space on 9 March, 2011.

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