"Why are we here?" Yokogawa User Group Conference and Exhibition

"Why are we here?" Tom Craig, from Reichhold Chemicals asked this question to start off the YCA 6th annual Conference and Exhibition. Yokogawa is an underdog. They think like one, they act like one, and they have a chip on their shoulder. The chip is understandable, coming from a 90 year old process automation company, with 50% market share in Japan, their home country. Because here, in the United States, and in Europe, they are typically considered an irrelevance by the Big Six automation firms. Yokogawa resents this, and it is understandable that they should. So, Yokogawa is presenting a User Conference, designed to showcase their products and applications, and get some respect. Con Lau, a relative newcomer to YCA, announced that they weren't going to make a new attendance record, because of Hurricane Katrina, and noted several highly visible members of the Yokogawa User Group who weren't visible at all...mostly because their operations and employment was hit hard yesterday. He pointed out that the theme of this conference is "The Clear Path to Operational Excellence." Lau noted that operational excellence means different things to different companies. To some, he said, "it means a concentration on safety." To others, it may mean different things, but all focusing on operational excellence in process automation. Con wisely paid dues to Kari Mitchell and Bruce Jensen, without whom the conference would have been a disaster... and swiftly got his reward as Bruce hurried up on the dais to fix a problem with the projector-driving laptop. Lau explained the format for the rest of the Conference: Business Driven Topics Roadmap Presentations Application workshops Product Learning Sessions. These last, I find interesting, because they are advertised as "non-commercial." One of the things that Yokogawa does well is to inject marketing and sales into every event they hold, so it will be interesting to see how "non-commercial" they can stay. Lau described the rest of the morning as a chance for Yokogawa to present the industry vision and outlook from non-Yokogawa points of view. Walt