The Editors speak...

Three editors agreed to talk about their view, and the view of non-engineers and the business community, of batch and process automation. Nancy Bartels, of Control, Gary Mintchell, of Automation World, and Mark Hoske of Control Engineering. Nancy's talk was "A Girly View" and she ruthlessly and relentlessly expressed the truth about how badly we engineers have messed up our relations with the rest of the enterprise from technical issues to change management. Everybody worries about the squishy stuff-- and not everybody, and not most people, knows how to deal with it. You can't write standards about it, you just have to handle it. "What is not so easy to master," she said, "is the human side of the project-- turnf wars, mutual suspicion and distrust, the language gap, building the business case, change management, and misunderstanding the corporate culture." Mark Hoske, of Control Engineering, talked about plant-level integration issues.  Diversity of type and generation of automation; breadth of desired integation; criticality of specific performance issues; and budgets-- always budgets. Which applications define your atuomation-to-enterprise integration/MES layer? (from a Control Engineering survey): HMI/SCADA 22% Scheduling 15% Batch management 12% Track and trace 19% Workflow 19% Asset management 10% Other 3% More than 60% of respondents said that their current projects did not provide a positive ROI. Manufacturing feeds the enterprise. Massive changes in global competition makes what happens on the plant floor strategic to eery enterprise with manufacturing operations. Even outsourced manufacturing requires tight communications with inter-connected engineering design and supply chain teams. Manufacturing is no longer a black box. There are many ways that MES systems can tie together the enterprise. At Tyson Foods, in Springdale AR, realtime information access for analysis jumped from 0 to 37.7%; information by minute climbed from 3.7% to 15.8%; use of hourly, daily, weekly-- other bucketed information DECREASED drastically because you don't need them. Gary Mintchell, famed blogger and Editor in Chief of Automation World, asked, "Do you remember when manufacturing was an integral part of the enterprise?" In a global economy, how can you prove manufacturing's value to the enterprise? I can make it here, I can make it in China, I don't even need to own the manufacturing part of the process... How do we justify ourselves and how do we prove we're worth our salt? How can you get your colleagues here? Question for Nancy: Where in your experience have you seen these projects work in terms of company size? I work for a very large company, and things don't move as fast as they should. Nancy: I think it works in divisions of large companies. But for a global company, unless it comes down from on high and the CEO or Chairman of the Board is behind it, it is easier to start small and work into a success. Don't try to bite the whole thing off at one time, and later move to the next phase. Do a pilot and then do a wider rollout. Mark: It's good to involve multifaceted teams, maintenance, management, IT, etc. and at different levels and communicate. Force communication, and all through it make sure that you're communicating in more than engineering units. We know it is worth it, but we've done a lousy job communicating it. Question for all the panel (from Dennis Brandl): what's going to be the best and worst headline we're going to see in the next two or five years. Gary: Best: manufacturing became more efficient and best part of the company. Mark: Best: manufacturing overall has huge leaps in efficiency. Worst: all the plants that don't have a clue are going to shut down, thereby raising the overall average. Nancy: Best: manufacturing again becomes an exciting place to work. Charlie Gifford: We aren't talking about the resource necessary to lower the cost of integration. We're not sponsored at the enterprise level and so we're a body of people who aren't growing...how do we get support from the media, the analysts and the enterprise level? Mark and Gary: we need the stories to write about. from an audience member: Worst headline: control system competition has been eliminated by the final merger. Nancy: we have to figure out what we do in a more sustainable way-- we have to do the whole thing, respect the profit margin, respect the people and the environment. Gary: It includes integrating facility management with process operations so that we think about  more than just the processes, and energy use gets into the equation. Mark: our standard of living is based on the creativity and manufacturing enterprise. A response to Gary's question about how you get people here... I bring home a highlights reel. Roger Jeffrey: the constraints we face as suppliers and manufacturers are pretty obvious. One of the things we've done is to reach out to other organizations. Automation Federation was an idea that was born out of the need to be more efficient. Do you feel that this is a good path forward for organizations like WBF? Do you have any ideas how we can leverage this? Gary: Yes. Reaching out is important, and the AF is a good vehicle. There are marketing things you can do, as well, like podcasts, webcasts, etc. Mark: There are opportunities, and the thing to do is to look at the overall size of the pie rather than the slice of pie you have. Nancy: you need to reach the younger audience, and the people who you normally don't reach.