This Week in Process Automation

July 12, 2013
Possible buy-outs, disruptive technologies, anniversaries, better baseball bats and bubble-wrap.
These may be the lazy, hazy days of summer, but the news doesn't slow down just because we'd all rather be at the beach. Here are some of the top stories from this week. The biggest shocker came out just this morning. European industrial giant Schneider Electric has put in a bid for Invensys. As Walt Boyes observed this a.m., it remains to be seen whether this is nearly a done deal, or whether the release of the news is an attempt to start a bidding war. Some of the other big names in automation may be interested. And what this means for all the various divisions of Invensys is unclear as well. Don't miss the next exciting episode.  At the same time that Invensys is being courted by one of the big boys, it's celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of its safety systems unit, Triconex. Invensys has planned several special events in the coming year to mark the anniversary, including a celebration at the company's Triconex and Foxboro Client Conference, as well as regional celebrations across the globe at various Invensys locations. For the complete story, go here. Much closer to home, there's a new addition to our blog roll (Check the lower right-hand side of your screen.) The S88Builder Construction blog covers all things batch manufacturing. Meanwhile, in the somewhat wider manufacturing world, the manufacturing sector grew again in June, following a rocky May. And McKinsey and Co. has issued a white paper telling us the 12 disruptive technologies that may change our lives.  And speaking of disruptive technologies, North Carolina State University researchers are building a better bubble wrap. What's to improve about this most tactile of time wasters? The leader of the project says the metallic version will be "lighter, stronger and more flexible than sheet metal and more heat- and chemical-resistant than plastic or other polymer-based bubble wraps." No word on whether or not you'll be able to pop those little metallic bubbles.Even items as iconic as the baseball bat are not safe from innovation. One Grady Phelan has designed and is trying to sell bat manufacturers and pro players on making and using his ergonomically correct bat. He says it's designed to prevent hamate fractures (the hamate is a bone in the wrist.) The argument is that this $100 bat can save teams millions by preventing the kind of wrist injury that can wreck a player's career.