Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On!

Jan. 27, 2004

Last issue, we gave you tools, perspectives, and few strategies to help you save your job. But as the old Beatles' White Album song goes, "Life goes on." While you are saving your job, you also have get on with it.

In this issue, we profile the vendors who help you do your job. In our Cover Story, we report the results of our 12th annual reader survey, the Readers' Choice Awards. Here we present YOUR rankings of the best in product quality and customer service in the industry. We asked you to rate your suppliers on the best technologies and the best service in more than 60 categories, ranging from analyzers through software and systems, to control valves.

Continuing our eagle-eye view of the industry is our CONTROL TOP 50 feature, Terry McMahon and his all-star team of analysts have put together a snapshot of the financial performance of the TOP 50 North American process automation vendors in the marketplace.

As you will see, there have been some changes. One of the very interesting things that the TOP 50 feature shows every year is the fragmentation and specialization of the process automation industry. Once you get past the top 10 companies on the list, the size of the remaining organizations drops dramatically. Why? Because the industry is essentially inventor and entrepreneur driven, built by people like you who have a great idea for a product or a new way to do something better and then go off and create it. Every time there is a big consolidation in the process automation industry, the people who are "surplussed" tend to hang out a shingle and become competitors of the big guys. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't, as in the recent case of Mycrosensor. Regardless, if you've got a good idea, maybe you should think about going for the brass ring, as an alternative means to saving your job.

Speaking of change, in the last issue we introduced a change in the focus of the Developing Your Potential feature. December's column (pg. 29) featured noted author and Fortune 100 workflow process consultant Bill Jensen, author of Simplicity, Work 2.0 and his latest, The Simplicity Survival Guide. In this issue we are pleased to present a thought-provoking piece by Dana Blankenhorn, who is one of the most respected technology futurists, author of the award-winning The Blankenhorn Report, and the longtime author of the weekly e-zine, We plan to continue to ask prominent authors and writers to give us the benefit of their insight and experience throughout the coming year.

We continue to feel that the advice that Jack Bolick, CEO of Honeywell Process Solutions, gave in the December issue ("Take Charge," pg.46) is right on the money. We must begin to expand our horizons, see more clearly where process automation fits in modern manufacturing, and where all of that fits in the larger scheme like the world economy. Dana's article, and Bela Liptak's column in this months' issue speak directly to what you can expect to see coming at you from around the next corner.

Notwithstanding all this "futurism," we've packed the issue with our usual brand of timely information that will help you do your job today. Contributors Jerry Curtis and Jason Turner have put together a terrific case study on a digital control system migration at a Texas Petrochemical processor, and we cover ABB's search for the holy grail of control. Our product roundup feature this month covers the latest in flow measurement, where there is a considerable ferment about being able to do difficult flow applications like two-phase and three-phase flows, and even some new technologies. Our Problem Solving Idea this month came out of a highly-charged session at ISA Expo 2003, where Wade Mattar from Foxboro opened the can of worms about how well Coriolis flowmeters handle entrained air and other interesting things. The problem was actually posed by Procter and Gamble engineer Jim Reizner, as part of the discussion, and we felt it was a great thing to bring to your attention.

At CONTROL, we are dedicated to being an essential resource to help you do your job better, grow in your career, and enjoy your life. Let us know how we're doing--but in the meantime, if you want some fun, sing Ob-La-Di, Bla-Da!

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