Invensys Showcase 2002: Speak `accounting' to keep your job

Orlando, FL - To retain jobs in this increasingly competitive environment, engineers on plant floors need to relate the value of automation, controls, and instrumentation to the bottom line in accounting, not engineering, terms.


Orlando, FL - To retain jobs in this increasingly competitive environment, engineers on plant floors need to relate the value of automation, controls, and instrumentation to the bottom line in accounting, not engineering, terms.

''We've been into plants were engineering and accounting people never met, and those who have often don't like each other,'' according to Peter Martin, vp of Performance Management, Invensys (Foxboro, MA).

One reason is that they speak different languages. Plant-floor benchmarks tend to use units irrelevant to the bottom line. Key performance measures (KPMs), however, tend to look forward and are in units top management and accountants can understand, he says.

Invensys has been working to incorporate these concepts into its services business. In May 2002, Rick Haythornthwaite, Invensys ceo, announced reorganization of the company to include service areas by major industry. Mr. Martin, leading the General Process Service unit, says service areas are staffing up with leadership from industries. The lead for each must have an MBA and 10 years industry experience. Goal is to serve existing customers and reach out to new ones. Mr. Martin says four of six recently acquired service customers have non-Invensys systems. Of the four, two are installing new non-Invensys systems. One is seeking to establish a baseline against which to measure new system performance.

Using Invensys Dynamic Performance Measures to feed accurate data into enterprise resource planning systems provide much more accurate intelligence for bottom-line quantification than any planning system could, Mr. Martin suggests. It doesn't matter if you believe automation, controls, and instrumentation added millions to the bottom line-if the chief financial office (cfo) doesn't believe it, it didn't happen.

One extreme case was an engineering department cut from 22 to 13, despite delivering, by their measures, multi-millions in savings. "Do you think that cfo believed those numbers if that department was cut that much?" Mr. Martin's rhetorical question produced a room full of shaking heads at the Invensys Showcase 2002 meeting here. He says engineers obviously hadn't worked with accountants to quantify automation benefits in a way believable for upper management.

For more on this topic, Accounting needs will renew industrial technology investments ."

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

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