Manufacturing 2020

Deja Vu - All Over Again

As I have noted in the last several posts I have been traveling a lot lately and it has just been recently that I have finally caught up with reading all my email, blogs I follow and the forums/groups that I belong to.

Mea Culpa and Attention to Detail

One of the readers took me task over the last couple of postings - and rightfully so.  Since mid February I have been traveling extensively and pressed to keep this blog current while on the road.

Organizations Must Provide Value to Their Members to Survive

Continuing the discussion from the last post where I postulated that ISA and MESA struggle more than IEEE or other engineering organizations in retaining members, in this post I'll offer my take as to why.  I already noted that societies that serve specific engineering disciplines like IEEE have a feeder...

Why Do Automation Organizations Struggle Compared to Other Societies

Like many automation engineers I get a steady stream of emails from ISA, MESA and other organizations with announcements about conferences, webinars and white papers.  If the volume of email were an indication of viability it would seem that professional societies are alive and healthy.

Systems Thinking

In the last post I raised the issue of unintended consequences.  Some may have thought I was arguing against automatic control when I postulated that before computerized control took over that catastrophic systems failures were less likely since humans struggled to maintain control with even minor equipment degradation.

Unintended Consequences

Having just returned from a SCUBA diving trip to the Honduran Bay Island of Roatan I saw first hand what happens when we mess with natural systems.  For those that don't know, the Lionfish, an Indo-Pacific native species, has somehow been introduced into the Caribbean, where as an invasive species...

How Far Up the Hierarchy Should Automation Vendors Go?

In the previous post I postulated that successful investment by automation companies today is closely related to the process. Vendors like SAP and Oracle have not pushed downward beyond a certain level and the success of automation companies pushing upward, so far, has been limited.

Where Hardware & Software Intersect - Opportunity Areas for Innovation

Since every automation company has fielded display, configuration and operations management level software it seems clear that the closer to the process the more obvious the alignment between hardware and software. The further from the plant floor or the operational infrastructure, such as the grid in a utility, you get...

Can a Leopard Change Its Spots?

In the last post I posited that an automation vendors success in making software central to its business needs to be a key consideration on choosing a strategic partner for automation technology.  It is safe to say that while it seems every automation supplier is investing in software, not every...

Can Automation Vendors Regain Their Strategic Relevance?

Today almost all of the major control systems suppliers are making massive investments in software.  The question is whether these investments will actually allow the control systems vendors to compete against software intensive firms like SAP, Microsoft, Google or Oracle?  Digital technology has embedded itself in all aspects of machinery. ...