By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief
Every year, the members of the Process Automation Hall of Fame vote into the Hall just a few of their peers. This year’s class includes Hans D. Baumann, Renzo Dallimonti, J. Patrick Kennedy, Carroll Ryskamp and Cecil L. Smith.
In 1997, this magazine profiled Renzo Dallimonti with the headline, “The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It.” That headline could easily fit any of these five men. Each has made an enormous contribution to the field of automation.
In his career, Hans D. Baumann has done many things and done them all well. Starting out as an industrial engineer in his native Germany, Baumann worked in Germany and France. He studied in the United States, acquiring a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Columbia Pacific University. Baumann has personally designed or directed the development of over 30 valve lines, including the famous “CAMFLEX” valve. He is credited with numerous patents and papers in addition to co-authoring seven handbooks on valves, instrumentation and noise.
“My first involvement in automation was in 1955, designing control valves for Siemens,” he says. “Over the past fifty-plus years, I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the international community of control experts and being able to disseminate U.S. technology throughout my involvement on the international standards committees.”
Baumann has worked for many different control valve manufacturers, including Emerson Process Management’s Fisher Controls—from which he retired in 2000.
But control valves aren’t Baumann’s only passions. In 2002, he published The Ideal Enterprise, a book on business efficiency. Baumann’s latest book is Building Lean Companies: How to Keep Companies Profitable as they Grow. Versatile, Baumann has also written a history of the last days of WWII entitled, Hitler’s Fate: The Final Story.
Baumann serves as an advisor to the dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Business, is the treasurer of the Palm Beach Round Table and a director of the Palm Beach Opera.
“Automation is still a challenging area of technology,” he says, after fifty years in the field. “I look for wireless to be a game changer, even acknowledging the security risk involved.”
Baumann continues to lecture internationally. “I like to pass on my experience and knowledge to the younger generation,” he says.
Dallimonti’s repeated phrase, “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” defines his career at Honeywell. In many ways, the way we do automation in 2009 is because that’s the way Renzo Dallimonti said we should.
In 1969, Dallimonti says, “I said to my manager, ‘Do you want us to really push the level of technology and keep an open mind to anything?’”
From 1969 to 1975, Dallimonti led what was then called Honeywell’s Project 72. “The name Project 72,” Dallimonti recalls, “came from the hope that by 1972 we could begin showing some of these products.”
It was 1975 before he unveiled the TDC2000—a product with little competition for years.
Dallimonti has been involved in instrumentation and control his entire career, from doing instrumentation on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tenn., to instrumentation systems for General Electric, to Brown Instruments, which became Honeywell. He stayed at Honeywell for 38 years.
Even though he’s been retired since 1986, Dallimonti is still thinking about the future of automation.
He calls his concept the “Future Horizon Plant.”
“The automation technology that already exists today is sufficient to improve plant productivity in the process industries for the next decade,” he says. “The most pressing need now is not more scientific breakthroughs, but more perceptive visions of how best to utilize the productivity tools already commercially available."
You can see more of Dallimonti’s vision at www.controlglobal.com/0902_HOF.html
J. Patrick Kennedy is responsible for the creation of the modern data historian, Pi, which is used by more plants than any other in the world. “We concentrate on this one thing that we know how to do,” he says, “and we resist all the opportunities to expand out of our niche.”
Kennedy didn’t start in software. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a doctorate in chemical engineering, Kennedy worked for Shell Chemical Company before joining what was then Taylor Instruments (now ABB).
“I was hired to work in the Digital Systems Group of Taylor in 1973 and and met people like John Ziegler,” he says. As an applications consultant at Taylor, Kennedy wrote prophetically about how the DCS would develop. He also became fascinated with advanced process control.
“When I started my company in 1980,” Kennedy says, “it was really to do advanced control, but we discovered that the right tools (software) were missing and built them. Customers wanted to buy our tools rather than our services, so we changed business plans and never looked back.”
Kennedy says of his career, “Because of the jobs that I had (technical sales support, project management, software development) I got a wide and varied look with a lot of emphasis on the value of why we were doing this. I have enjoyed the field, and I think it is a good blend of real world and ‘nex gen’ technology,” he says. “I don’t see a field that will grow and prosper more than automation, but the appeal to the new people will depend upon the adoption of the tools that they are comfortable with—like, how would you tune a controller with an iPhone, and does your plant text you when it is in trouble?”
“The most significant trends are the continued move to a real-time digital world and the actual connection of the business to the management of the facilities. It’s the infrastructure,” Kennedy concludes, “that is important.”
Fellow Hall of Famer Edgar Bristol II was inclined to characterize Foxboro’s control expertise as “Greg (Shinskey) the logician, me the theoretician and Carroll the mystic.”
“In 1958,” Ryskamp says, “at the Marathon Oil Detroit Refinery, I modified a pneumatic pressure control loop so that one controller could operate two valves. I changed the calibration of the valve positioners to accomplish this split range. The operators appreciated it, but so did the management, because condensable product would not be wasted because of lack of attention.”
Ryskamp, a chemical engineer, started doing something else and wound up doing automation. “In 1962,” he says, “I had the chance to take a short course in process dynamics and control at the Colorado School of Mines. I realized how much most chemical engineers were missing by studying only steady-state phenomena. This started my career in process control.”
From 1965 to 1970, Ryskamp worked for Marathon’s corporate office in Findlay, Ohio. In 1970, Ryskamp joined what was then the Foxboro Company, now Invensys Process Systems, as a systems application consultant. “I did the process analysis, control design, some of the implementation, startup and training,” he says. “These projects were for many of the major oil companies, smaller ones, chemical plants and other customers.”
In 1986, Ryskamp went into business as a consultant and retired in 1994.
“In over 35 years in process control,” says Cecil L. Smith, “I’ve worked with virtually every control technology being applied in industrial production facilities.”
“My primary focus,” he goes on, “is on designing a control strategy for a process and then commissioning the controls, that is, the process aspects as opposed to systems aspects.” He is proficient with DCSs, PLCs, PC-based controls and single-loop, microprocessor-based controls and is capable of resolving both process and system problems. In fact, earlier in his career, as a professor at Louisiana State University (LSU), he produced, along with Dr. Paul Murrill, some well-known and well-regarded textbooks on computer programming and computer science. “In 1964, I got into computing by learning Fortran from the IBM manuals for a 1620 computer” Smith says. “This led me into automation, following pioneers like Tom Stout, Tom Wherry and Bob Parsons.”
Smith left LSU to go on his own—to teach. Currently, under the banner of Cecil L. Smith Inc., Smith teaches a variety of courses on process control, advanced process control, distillation control and many others.
Like many members of the Process Automation Hall of Fame, Smith is passionate about engineering education. He’s written several articles about the need for engineers to widen their horizons, and even learn to sell—both themselves and their products and abilities.
Smith is outspoken. “Engineering and automation have both been good to me,” he says, “but I am concerned about the future. All trends point to outside the U.S., both in regard to work opportunities and to new developments in the technology.”
The most obvious trend continues to be outsourcing, he thinks. “Few user companies currently view automation technology as giving them a competitive edge, hence the attitude of farming out this work at the minimum possible cost.”
This year, the Process Automation Hall of Fame Award Ceremony will be held April 23 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Rosemount, Ill., concurrent with the WBF Executive Summit on Procedure-Based Manufacturing.