Invensys Foxboro honors employees for awards, changing approach

Foxboro, MA—Invensys Foxboro recently honored its employees with a luncheon for 500 thanking them for innovative thinking required to capture four awards in just a few months.


Foxboro, MA— Invensys Foxboro processes. Making time for the event also required a change of thinking for company executives present-executives described it as the first full-plant shut down in the facility since the 1950s.

Recognition included a Control Engineering Editors' Choice Award for the company's CFT50 digital Coriolis flowmeter , which appeared in a supplement to the January 2003 issue, on page s7. Instrumentation and Automation News , also part of Reed Business Information, and ISA also recognized that product. Processing magazine gave an award to the DolpHin pH probe.

"You deserve these awards," said John McKenna, president of Invensys Process Systems' Measurement & Instrumentation division, to plant employees, after accepting each on the employees' behalf. After lunch, he encouraged each to see the award in the lobby display case.

Recognition extends beyond the prizes, Mr. McKenna explained afterward, to Control Engineering . "Development money is now focused on key opportunities and technologies judged to have the best upside for growth and profitability. People in the plant have continually improved our processes to the point where we are able to go up to five weeks without having to redo a piece. Lines were streamlined. Demand pulls components out of consigned inventory and into a measured workflow. For pressure products, for instance, 75% are built and out the door in 24 hours or less."

Changes were made in the sales channel, as well. For instance, the CFT50, available Dec. 17, 2002, is only selling through a dedicated mass flow sales force to ensure they're applied absolutely correctly, Mr. McKenna said.

It's been a strategic plan, added Mike Jost, the Measurement & Instrument division's development and marketing vp. Mr. Jost told Control Engineering, "We have a large breadth of products. Rather than chasing every me-too product, our goal was to concentrate on three or four real breakthrough products, in areas with large projected growth," such as flow, with the CFT50, which resulted from more than 50 customer interviews. That also requires attention to key features during the design process. "John hired most of us to grow the business and develop flagship products for our customers. Just three years ago, for instance, the mix of offerings were just 10% new products, now it's about 30%; and in a few years, we're looking toward 50% or more. Still, we have an installed base to support. We don't want to abandon platforms. Customers have learned that if they're going to invest in what we offer, we're going to be there for many years to come."

Indeed, one of four manufacturing areas in the 275,000-ft2 Neponset plant is devoted to legacy products, including some pneumatic technology designed in the 1930s and 40s, according to Michael J. Godek, Measurement & Instrument division's manufacturing gm. The other three areas are Electrochemical, Pressure/Temperature, and Flow. Foxboro was founded on the site in 1908; Building 5 is the oldest remaining, dating from 1898.

Other plant modifications, Mr. Godek pointed out, designed to improve productivity and profitability, include the Kan Ban supermarket, posted attribute goals with actual results shown against employee-set targets. And, while the Foxboro plant used to have the largest machine shop in New England, now it's just one of the largest because some pieces are imported machined or partially machined to fit better into workflow or pricing strategies. Many components are 100% tested in multiple areas. Some things, like the glass for the DolpHin probe, are still made in-house by hand because of the strategic advantage from patented chemical mixtures in the glass forming the electrode.

While awards are great, it doesn't mean things come easy. Mr. Godek gave the example of machine shop personnel, who held four Kaizan events, examining "what ifs" to make the process better. Three resulted in incremental gains. The fourth meeting resulted in a breakthrough, "One we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't stuck with the process."

As much as things changed to bring about the ceremony, tendencies remain. Toward the end of lunch one official was seen looking at his watch, at the crowd, and at the awards table. Recognition is good; but quiet factories still make people uneasy.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Integrated mobility; Artificial intelligence; Predictive motion control; Sensors and control system inputs; Asset Management; Cybersecurity
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me