I have been attending the ATPM conference. This Automation Technology in Process Management conference was jointly sponsored by WBF, the organization for production technology and MESA International, the organization for manufacturing operations management. It replaced the WBF North American Conference, which had been held for the preceeding 18 or so years.
The first night of ATPM, as we have done for many years, we held the Process Automation Hall of Fame Award banquet. Inductees were Vern Heath, the co-founder of Rosemount, Mark Nixon, the architect of DeltaV and one of the designers of WirelessHART, and Tom Phinney, the first editor of the 802.11 (WiFi) standard, a fieldbus visionary, and one of the designers of WirelessHART and ISA100.11a.
On Tuesday, the keynote address was by Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO of PAS Inc. Eddie is a pioneer in alarm management and change management. He talked about how traditional knowledge management was dead, to be replaced with online realtime collaboration.
Many of the papers presented were about procedure based technology-- the subject of ISA106, the new procedure based control standard that seeks to take the learnings of WBF and the ISA88 and ISA95 committees and relate them to not only the continuous process industries, but also the discrete industries where procedures and batching are ubiquitous.
Today, the kenote was a visionary look at the future of operators by Maurice Wilkins, many-time chair of WBF and vice president of global marketing for industrial automation for Yokogawa Electric Corporation. He looked at the difference between digital natives (our kids) and digital immigrants (that's us), with a side swipe at digital retards (our parents).
Clearly the desires, rewards and even the preferred human machine interface of the digital natives are quite different from the desires and rewards, and especially the HMI that we have been used to. "They work to live," Wilkins said of GenX and GenY, "while they think that we live to work."
The big news of the conference, though was the announcement yesterday afternoon, that WBF and MESA International will merge effective 31 May, and WBF will transition to MESA. This is a sad but necessary step that the Board and Leadership team of WBF and MESA spent the last year working out. The WBF has always been about the "how" while MESA has always been about the "why," and a new, stronger organization will be about the "how and why."