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The Federation: To boldly go!

Aug. 14, 2006
CONTROL contributor and WBF Chairman, Maurice Wilkins, says it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which organizations could and should become members of the Automation Federation.
By Maurice Wilkins, Chairman WBF & VP Consulting, ARC Advisory Group

THE TITLE of this article sounds very familiar to all of us. Of course the Federation I am referring to is “The Automation Federation” which was formed earlier this year when ISA, OMAC and WBF came together as Charter Members to support the needs of automation, manufacturing and operations profession professionals.

There are many different industry organizations at the moment and more being set up each day – giving manufacturing managers a nightmare when considering where and how to get the best information and training for themselves and their engineers.

This is a new concept and venture for the organizations under the Automation Federation’s umbrella – and bold in that it is attempting to bring together organizations focused on automation and operations. The aim being that the greater whole is better than the separate parts. But it will also allow those parts to operate individually in support of their own market and industry focus.

Staying with the analogy… it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which organizations could and should become members of the Federation – you could likely name five right off the bat. In fact, several organizations have already been in touch to see how they can become members – and proving that this is a truly global group – one of them is even in Australia.

Of course, the most immediately visible things will be joint conferences and seminars, along with the Federation’s website. But this will grow to give managers in manufacturing industries an alternative educational venue to send their engineers to instead of the many many many “user groups” run by the suppliers these days. It will give engineers from differing perspectives a way of getting non-biased opinions on technology and applications. It will also give them a “bigger bang for the buck” in not having to decide which seminar to send their people to – it will all be under one roof. It is probable that the first major co-located event will take place in May 2007 with WBF’s NA2007 conference in Baltimore. Other smaller one day events may happen prior to that.

Over the years, the strength of the WBF conferences has been the cross functional, cross user, cross supplier inter-mingling – the sharing of information and the networking. The passing on of information from industry leaders who are not tied to any particular solution - but to HOW it’s done – or if they don’t know (and that’s unlikely) they will point you to someone who does. Now imagine that across a number of organizations – with many of the same automation leaders – and the value becomes boundless. In addition, the Automation Federation will bring together industry leaders to make sure it is providing what they need to support their operations. It will also provide cross organizational training and development opportunities.

The directors of the Automation Federation had their second face to face meeting on August 4th and 5th to determine how it will work, what its mission and goals are and to see how the Federation can provide most support to the automation marketplace and when. The directors also met Bruno Kisala who has recently been recruited as the Automation Federation’s managing director. Bruno will be tasked with pulling this all together and working with other organizations who may want to join – either as members or as affiliated members.

Keep watching the website and those of the member organizations as we boldly go where no group of organizations such as this has gone before.

Set her to Warp Factor 7 Scottie – ‘cos I for one – as a former manager of engineers, with a limited budget – am very excited by this, and it can’t arrive soon enough.

  About the Author
Maurice Wilkinsis Chairman of the WBF and can be reached by e-mail at[email protected].

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