...and on to Siemens in Spring House

Once again, the last time I had visited the big box on Sumneytown Pike in Spring House, PA, it said Moore Products on the door, and I was there to see Bill Moore.

Bill is long gone, but the Moore Products legacy lives on in the people, and in the plant. I was pleased and a little honored to see who all they got together to spend the afternoon with me, listening to me blather on about what I think the future will bring for automation, and specifically for Siemens. One of the people who was there was the recently promoted Andreas Aufenanger, who is now General Manager for Process Automation Systems. Andreas asked me why I thought Siemens wasn't as well known for process automation in North America as they are elsewhere. And he asked me what I thought they could do about it. This topic came up repeatedly, and to boil it down to the essence, it is a similar problem that faces Rockwell. Both Siemens and Rockwell have very strong brand values. So strong are their brands in fact that they resist being shifted. Siemens is known for discrete manufacturing and for power generation and control, as well as medical instrumentation. And those brand values are highly positive and very strong. But because Siemens, like ABB, decided to throw away (I truly wish there was a politer way to say this) the accumulated brand equity in process automation that they acquired when they bought Moore Products, Milltronics, Controlotron, US Filter and Danfoss, they can't use that brand equity to shift their own brand into process automation. It's gone, and they'll have to take the better part of a decade building it back. Even re-creating the old brands on the back of your business card, like ABB does, isn't going to help much. But the truth is that Siemens produces a huge number of field instruments-- as many and as vaSiemens LR460 Radar Level Transmitter for Solidsried a product line as any other major automation player (especially if you count the US Filter products), and their distributed control system is one of the most open and flexible systems around. They just have to get their light out from under that there bushell basket they hid it under. While it will take time to build that process automation brand equity back they will do it, because the former Milltronics products are still best in class, as are the former Controlotron and Danfoss products. As an example, they showed me the relatively new 460 radar transmitter, that does solids as well or better than anything else. And they've put together an outstanding migration/upgrade path for the Moore APACS product to the S7 platform. Now, for the advice: Everybody knows that Siemens makes good products, ja? The fact is that it is now assumed that all the major automation companies make good products. That's the ticket to get into the dance. What has to happen is that Siemens needs to start showing (not telling) everybody just how well they can dance. I want to see end-user written case studies where process automation problems were solved using Siemens equipment and know-how. End-users read them, and the problem solving that Siemens assisted will shift the brand values strongly into process automation. I want to see white papers by Siemens technical experts that teach automation beginners, as well as advanced automation workers, how to do the things that Siemens does really well. It is now incumbent on all the major automation companies, ISA, and all of the automation magazines, to provide the education and mentoring that companies used to provide internally for new hires and young automation professionals. Siemens can be a major leader in this effort, and should be. And they think so too. I'm there to help Siemens in this effort. I was absolutely astounded when somebody broke into this discussion to announce that it was after 5 PM and that we needed to clear out! Siemens, because it, like ABB, also makes power control and motors, is very well placed to cooperate in the coming integration of all plant control systems that every major automation company is talking about. And because they have a huge background in discrete manufacturing, they have a leg up on some other major automation companies that don't have that same background. It will be interesting to watch the progress Siemens makes in North America over the next ten years.