Walt's Excellent Adventure in China

But before we move off to cover the annual Honeywell bake-off (it is expected to be 105 degrees Fahrenheit or roughly 40 degrees Celsius all week in Phoenix), I'll talk a little about my experiences in China. And yes, I got to do some cool tourist stuff with John Bernaden, Ricky AuYeung and some other RA staffers, like visit the Forbidden City, Tienamin Square,  and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and over the weekend I was there, we went to the Great Wall and then, after flying to Xi'an, we went to the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, the First Emperor and saw the terracotta warriors, and museum stuff like that. It was great, and since I had never been to Northern China before, it was all new and exciting.

During the week, however, it was all business. We first attended the Rockwell Partner Conference, with over 100 Encompass Partners in attendance, and then we went to RAOTM (Rockwell is a little acronym happy-- this stands for "Rockwell Automation on the Move"-- a regional (!!) user conference held along with a session of Rockwell Automation University that drew over 1000 end user customers.

There are global user groups who don't draw 1000 end users. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember Ricky AuYeung, Marketing Manager for Asia, telling me that this is one of 26 user group meetings they'll hold in China this year. You do the math.

John Bernaden, Manager of Corporate Communications, Ricky and I snuck into a very high level meeting that just happened to be going on in Beijing at the same time we were there: the first US-China Energy Efficiency Summit. Rockwell's chief lobbyist, Bruce Quinn, gave an excellent speech there, and that's what got us in the back door.

Then we drove to Tangshan to see a huge cement plant running Plant PAx, and then to Caofeidian to see the replacement for Capitol Steel, which was shut down before the 2008 Beijing Olympics because it polluted the air so badly. Rockwell does the blast furnace and concaster controls, while Siemens does the rolling mill. This plant was built in roughly three years.

In Xi'an, we visited the system integrator that Rockwell acquired in 2008, Xi'an HengSheng, which is very strong in the electric generating market. They can't do the turbine and stuff, but they are very successful in getting the BoP (Balance of Plant) business. They work closely with the design institute (state run EPC) that is responsible for coal-fired power plants, and they are expanding into water, wastewater and environmental controls.

We spent an afternoon visiting universities in Xi'an, and found their departments of automation (yes, Chinese universities have whole departments for automation, where we can't find them anywhere in North America-- think about what that means for our future, folks)...

After a flight to Hangzhou, we went to visit a pharmaceutical API facility which is a joint venture between a Spanish company and a Chinese one.

Then it was off to Shanghai, and since we had half a day to kill before our flight home, we went to the Shanghai World's Fair, along with several hundred thousand other people...on a weekday morning.

I am writing an article for ControlGlobal.com that we'll post in the next few days, with a deeper analysis of my adventures.

China is alive, full of energy, forward-looking and smart. But I am very glad to be home.