ARC Forum capsule reviews

Boeing, boing boing boing! After Maggie Walker's discussion on the globalization of engineering at Dow, Timothy Opitz from Boeing discussed the controversial design and manufacturing methodologies of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Opitz glowed about the ability of Boeing to coordinate shipment of parts from all over the globe, including large pieces of fuselage from vendors everywhere. Wags in the audience were heard to mumble that other people at Boeing have been saying less kind things about the performance of many of the outsourced vendors, and that at least one senior Boeing official has been saying privately, "We are never going to [expletive deleted] do that again!" Pharma MES  Francis Sidnam presented an update on Bristol-Myers Squibb's MES and Architecture Standards project that has been ongoing for about the past half decade. Like many companies in the pharma space, BMS is far ahead of many other companies in other industry verticals in moving to a fully integrated information architecture. This is driven in part, of course, by the electronic records push from the FDA and 21CFR11, but the people who actually implement these programs are finding that they really work, and they aren't just a bureaucratic boondoggle. The Dogs and the Ponies It is traditional at ARC for the large automation vendors to make high profile presentations and introduce their favorite customer, who will then provide a case study or two to illustrate that the vendor's claims are not blue smoke and mirrors. Yokogawa President Shuzo Kaihori introduced Wim Witte, of Shell Global Solutions with a case study, that among other things, illustrates the reality of Yokogawa's continuing claims to be in the first rank of control system vendors. Peter Terwiesch, chief technology officer of ABB, who is the subject of an upcoming Process Automation Media Network Podcast on ControlGlobal.com, recorded here at ARC, introduced Roaldo de Magalhães from Petrobras with a case study, and then Steve Eisenbrown from Rockwell produced his own customer, Kevin Harding from Wyeth-- providing compelling evidence that Rockwell in fact is a player in the process industries, not just in peripherals, packaging and handling in those industries, either. The Backroom Meetings In the meantime, as at all ARC Forum events, editors and analysts are being dragged into meetings with senior officials of automation vendor companies for one-on-one briefings. I had three such yesterday. Siemens Lunch was with Dennis Sadlowski, President and CEO of Siemens Energy and Automation Inc., the USA arm of the Siemens automation giant. He indicated that Siemens was moving forward with its penetration into the process industries, and that Siemens was one of the few who could confidently make the case to end-user companies that they can be a one stop shop for field instrumentation all the way to enterprise integration. Since Siemens hasn't communicated this well in the US yet, though not from lack of trying by their media chieftains, Tom Varney and Mike Krampe, both of whom also attended the lunch, I find it necessary often to remind people that the very large elephant in the room in discussions of process automation has only been in the technology industry for 160 years--and that's older than even Foxboro and Yokogawa and General Electric. Siemens can, of course, take full advantage of the convergence of power controls, energy management systems, building automation, and process control systems. And though they are not well known in the process industries for continuous control systems, just go visit the head end of most power companies, and you will see the Siemens logo scattered everywhere. The Schneider brief Then it was on, on to a meeting with Michel Crochon, executive vice president for automation, and Gordon Quigley, directeur strategie business unit automation, of Schneider Electric. Quigley is, of course, a walking advertisement for my thesis that automation professionals had better get used to working anywhere in the world. Quigley is certainly not a French name, and yet his business card gives his French title...and shows his office as Malmaison France. Crochon and Quigley outlined Schneider's abilities to do the same things that Siemens told me earlier that they are planning to do...provide one-stop shopping and leverage their vast experience in motors, motor controls, and power management into the convergence zone between the five or six control systems every plant seems to have: process, discrete, building automation, security, and so forth. We discussed Schneider's strategic acquisition of Citect, and Crochon noted that Citect's excellent MES offerings are an integral part of Schneider's future plant integration plans. The Yokogawa difference Then David Johnson, president and CEO of Yokogawa America, took me off in a corner to discuss the importance of Yokogawa's most recent senior executive hire. Maurice Wilkins, current Chairman of WBF (formerly World Batch Forum), has left ARC Advisory Group, where he had been vice president of consulting services, to join Yokogawa as Global Vice President for Marketing Services. The text of the press release announcing Wilkins' appointment follows in another blog post.