In a world to suit ourselves...

I got to Atlantic City early for WBF. What this means is that the Trump Taj Mahal (there's a reason that Trump Casinos is in bankruptcy) wouldn't give me a room for about three hours. So, I went to Lynn Craig's S88 Tutorial. Craig, who is one of the parents of the batch standard, and one of the inductees of the Process Automation Hall of Fame, has a deprecating and wry wit, and is enjoyable to listen to, especially since his rate of information transfer is high. He gave a short history of the batch standard, talking about why it was decided to develop one, and where it stands today. Personally, he noted, when he was given responsibility for a batch plant at Rohm and Haas, he tried to get people to help him. "Oh, you are still using batch, are you? Well when you figure out how to do it right come back and see us and we'll help you," said the consultants and academics. It seems that the model, the one and only right model was continuous process. But batch wouldn't go away. Not only wouldn't it go away, S88 is becoming so ingrained in control and manufacturing theory that I have seen continuous processes broken down into a series of sequential short batch processes so that the S88 vocabulary can be applied to them. S88 was the first attempt to bring control engineers back into the world of manufacturing, and it hasn't been entirely successful yet. S95, the enterprise standard, extends the work of the original batch committee into the rest of the business unit and into the enterprise. Charlotta Johnson and Dennis Brandl gave a tutorial following Lynn Craig, on how S95 works, what it is, what it is intended to do, and how it relates to S88, the batch standard. What is clear is that we aren't just messing about with batch processes here at WBF anymore. Hence, the name is no longer World Batch Forum...just WBF. What we are really doing here is talking about applying control and control principles in manufacturing, and making sure that manufacturing needs are met by the control systems. This is the way of productivity, young Jedi. It is really too bad that WBF and MCAA (the Measurement Control and Automation Association, www.measure.org) are scheduled against each other, since they are two of the half dozen meetings I hate to miss every year. Dan Hebert is attending MCAA in my place, and I hope to have a report from him during the week. But even worse than the fact that I can't be there, the people who are at MCAA should be here. MCAA attracts the CEOs and CMOs and CSOs of the automation vendors, and their largest reps. WBF attracts the forward thinking from the manufacturing ranks. Lookie, them's customers, MCAA, so why are you all meeting in Las Vegas when you should be in Atlantic City learning about world class manufacturing theory and how to build controls and control systems to complement it. In a few minutes we'll go to the welcome reception, and then the obligatory rubber chicken dinner, so I can present the Process Automation Hall of Fame awards. Comments?

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