I can still remember the hurt and puzzled looks on the faces of the team when, at the meeting in 2003 where our CEO announced that I would be leaving Control magazine to head up our maintenance and asset management brand Plant Services, I blurted out, "I'm just really tired of making the donuts."
And it was true. The world of process control and instrumentation is complex and fascinating —an engineer's playground where every move has enormous potential to improve the lives of millions who rely on our products every day, and also to annihilate at least one operator and maybe everyone for miles around. From microprocessor technology to motors, valves and analytical instrumentation, the hardware is among the world's most advanced and developing at breakneck speed, the software (Oh, the software!) takes advantage of every IT improvement and impacts global enterprises to the highest levels, and the good folks who take up and feed the process control profession are among the world's most brilliant, painstaking and (at least with me) kind and patient.
But 10 years on the Control staff, including six or so as editor in chief, had left me too satiated with all those goodies and getting dulled by what was becoming a routine of cranking out a monthly magazine with which I was, frankly, feeling way too familiar. I wanted and needed a different perspective with new things to learn and new problems to help new people solve.
So I welcomed the request that I take some Control magic and go use it for the good of Plant Services. I reveled in lubrication, predictive maintenance, enterprise asset management, energy conservation, exotic hardware, powerful tools, logistics, parts and supplies for seven years. Above all, I discovered that all the process control and optimization in the world doesn't mean squat if the plant's not producing, and I learned from the best how to spend the least and still make sure equipment will keep running, smoothly and reliably, turning out high-quality production at the lowest possible cost. Along the way, I earned Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) certification.
Then in 2009, just in time to hit the depths of the recession, we decided to launch a new brand, Sustainable Plant, to satisfy the needs of professionals charged with improving the sustainability of industrial facilities. We defined sustainability as minimizing per-unit consumption of materials and energy while doing everything in our power to leave the planet to our children in the condition we would want it to have been left to us. Utmost safety and regulatory compliance are basic responsibilities, as is achieving a level of profitability that guarantees a bright future for employees, shareholders and the long-term health of the company.
By the time we finished our definition of industrial sustainability, I felt I had to ask to lead the content team. We spent the next three years putting sustainability into terms you all could relate to, in case you wanted to listen. Turns out most of you already have it handled.
So now I've returned to Control, and with every bit of the perspective you might imagine I would pick up from rubbing my nose for 10 years in sustainability and asset management. My appreciation of what we do—what you do —is enormously increased by that breadth of exposure and depth of understanding, and you can expect it to shine through our coverage of your work and the technologies, tools and services you need and use every day.
During the 10 years I was away, Walt Boyes was instrumental in building Control from a magazine and web site to a fully modern and global array of digital, print and multimedia methods to get you the information you need in the way you want it. I promise you—and him – that we'll not only be building on that progress, I'll be striving to add even more of the tasty and delightful fillings, frostings and sprinkles that constitute Control magic.
It's time to make the donuts, and I can't wait.