Not Your Daddy’s WBF: The Organization for Production Technology

WBF is no longer "World Batch Forum." This shows in the tagline on the logo, "the organization for production technology" and in the types of presentations at the last two conferences. WBF is no longer talking about how to do batch. Now, at the 2011 North American Conference, May 23-25 at the University of Delaware campus, presenters talked about adapting the experience of the past dozen years with ISA88 and ISA95 for non-traditional applications. They discussed ISA106—the procedure-based automation standard. This is a real sea change. 

Retired Emerson Process Management chairman John Berra was the keynote speaker on the first day, and retired DuPont chief engineer Jim Porter keynoted the second day. On the first day of the meeting, there were presentations on procedural automation in packaging and filling by Dennis Brandl of BR&L Consulting and co-author of the WBF XML Schema, and on user interface design for batch applications—widely applicable to non-batch procedural applications—by Bruce Kane and Wayne Gaafar of Honeywell.

David Goodman, of Avid Solutions, talked about a plantwide MES implementation in a parenteral pharma plant that used the benefits of both batch and procedure-controlled automation. Yokogawa's Marcus Tennant presented a group of application case studies that showed that the nascent ISA106 standard will have a huge effect on plant operation, work practices and workflow, and how it is possible to increase throughput, speed of response, MOC and safety.

Hans Konig-Bastiaan, formerly with Genentech, presented "The Changing World of the Process Control Engineer." Baha Korkmaz discussed how risk-based methodology led to a successful MES implementation. David Chappell, formerly of Procter & Gamble, talked about using standards-based methodology to do automation project development and delivery.

On the second day, Jesper Ravn of NNE Pharmaplan discussed applying batch procedures to a continuous process. There were other papers on ISA88-inspired methodologies.

The conference concluded with Lynn W. Craig, one of the founders of WBF, musing about "The Nature of Procedure."

At the first-night dinner, Control's  editor-in-chief, Walt Boyes, introduced two of the three latest members of the Process Automation Hall of Fame: John Berra, retired CEO of Emerson Process Management, and Dr. Maurice Wilkins, vice president of global marketing services for Yokogawa Electric Corp. The third inductee, Dr. Sigurd Skogestad, from Norway, was unable to be present.

The thread that is common to both Berra and Wilkins is significant involvement in standards development, both for ISA and others. Berra is responsible for donating the HART intellectual property to an independent foundation, and then he did the same thing for fieldbus.

Wilkins has been developing modular procedural automation and batch systems. He also served as Chair of WBF for five years.

Process Automation Hall of Fame Inductees 2011
Process automation hall of fame inductees
Two of the newest members of the Process Automation Hall of Fame with Control's
editor in chief, Walt Boyes, center. Left, John Berra; right, Maurice Wilkins.

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