Listen to the music

The cacophony of implementation can obscure the original control and automation score. People may realize they've reached that point soon after the newest band member gathers enough gumption to ask, "Why are we doing it this way?" Now that change is the only constant, everyone knows better than to respond with the classic refrain: "That's the way we've always done it.

08/01/1999


The cacophony of implementation can obscure the original control and automation score.

People may realize they've reached that point soon after the newest band member gathers enough gumption to ask, "Why are we doing it this way?" Now that change is the only constant, everyone knows better than to respond with the classic refrain: "That's the way we've always done it." No one wants to be accused of not hearing the pop music of business over the last four or five years.

Conflicting voices

Usually, if anyone acknowledges such a question, the response includes several choruses of (use your best corporate voice)...

"We're doing it this way because we need to:

  • Focus on core competencies;

  • Be more flexible;

  • Standardize disparate processes;

  • Optimize the supply chain;

  • Integrate data throughout the organization;" or,

"Ensure we're Y2K compliant" (a longtime hit at the top of the charts).

Each is someone's favorite song.

One of many common-sense presentations at the June 1999 ARC Strategies Forum, in Boston, Mass., stressed the need to remain attuned to "The Goal." In case you can't see the sheet music from where you are at the moment, "The Goal" is not any of those bulleted items above, reminds Ed Markowitz, ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, Mass.). "The Goal" is to make more money for the company.

"Well, yes, of course," everyone says. "That's understood—doing these things orchestrates the money-making process." However, without proper tuning, Mr. Markowitz suggests, each effort will "suboptimize overall potential," creating cacophony.

We all know timing is key. Here's the analogy: Collected data points are to information as piles of notes are to musical phrases. If information answers more than the question asked at the moment, it remains data out of synch with overall business needs. People need quality information at the right time to do their jobs well.

Several articles in this issue break through the noise of implementation, offering practical lessons for hearing the original goal, making money. The cover story tells "How to Get Your Project Approved," and a related article explains when to use in-house services, vendor consulting services, or a system integrator.

Getting a project approved (then seeing it succeed) requires defining, linking, and following business, process, and system objectives. " Too frequently," says Dave Harrold, Control Engineering senior editor, "requests for proposals only focus on price, ease-of-use, and technology."

Identify deviations

In the second piece, Vance VanDoren, Control Engineering consulting editor, adds, "deviations from the plan can be identified and evaluated before they are undertaken and end up derailing the original objectives."

The last measure, says ARC's Mr. Markowitz, in business process reengineering efforts, returns to the beginning for a reprise. Does the performance fairly express the original score or diverge so much that no one remembers the tune? Listen, really listen, to the music.


Author Information

Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief mhoske@cahners.com




No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.