Long-term outlook

Long-term outlook remains positive. We're in an industry that's rapidly embracing new technologies to create products that are more useful, faster, better, smaller, more economical, scalable, reusable, more flexible, and more closely tied to business goals. Education about products, applications, technologies, and trends serves long-term business goals and short-term professional develo...

02/01/2001


Long-term outlook remains positive. We're in an industry that's rapidly embracing new technologies to create products that are more useful, faster, better, smaller, more economical, scalable, reusable, more flexible, and more closely tied to business goals.

Education about products, applications, technologies, and trends serves long-term business goals and short-term professional development needs.

Educate yourself at National Manufacturing Week 2001, March 5-8, live and in person, or via extensive web-based coverage of technologies introduced and shown at Control Engineering Online , www.controleng.com . One advantage of attending in person is the ability to look someone in the eye, or drag them two booths down, and say, "Now what makes your solution significantly better than this one over here?" An article and "Cyberpage" in this issue provide more details about the show and conferences.

Influence the outlook of automation services: take an online survey, through Feb. 25, at www.controleng.com ; watch for coverage of results in the June cover story.

New automation uses technological advances to meet long-term business objectives. Augmenting or replacing existing automation systems often has far greater value to the organization than traditional project budgeting criteria might indicate. Find out why in the cover story, "Time to Invest in Control and Automation." An article on e-manufacturing advises about the importance of electronic connections. Another looks at the value of making analytical measurements close to the process. "Push the Limits" examines advanced process control.

Long-term planning : in all the drama about mandated rolling blackouts in California, some details about the way federal and state regulators have implemented deregulation have been skimmed over. Regulators required California utilities to drop long-term power contracts and purchase power on the spot wholesale power market. That's fine while these prices were low. Instead of the traditional model of using borrowed money to build power generating plants (with some measure of guaranteed return on investment), investor-owned utilities now must throw billions into purchasing power on the spot market. They also were required to sell some generating assets.

Greater analysis, monitoring, and control of the power grid has been needed to handle as much as a four-fold increase in transactions, according to Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, Calif.). Electricity must be used as it's produced and will "flow" where resistance is least, ignorant of paper transactions, giving opportunities to advanced controls applied to transactions and reliability.

In initial discussions about deregulation of the electric utility industry, regulators, consumers, and investor-owned utilities agreed that any transition to deregulation had to include protection of utility assets as well as consumer interests, while encouraging some measure of competition to lower costs. Regulators seem to have lost sight of the long-term requirement of keeping the lights on and keeping utilities out of Chapter 11. ( CE , Oct. '96, p. 55)

Outlook for control logic is changing rapidly with recent industry developments, see "News" for details and analysis. Let's hope those involved keep interests of end-users at heart as they communicate and implement their visions.


Author Information

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




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