News from PLANT ENGINEERING: Week of April 17

03/16/2006


Case study on reliability excellence

For an organization to achieve excellence, a common focus and rate of change must be developed, not only within maintenance, but equally within operations, engineering, materials and procurement, and other functions operating within the same business, regardless of business unit physical boundaries. Go to www.plantengineering.com under the‘Research’ section of ERG and find the latest case study from Darrin Wikoff of Life Cycle Engineering.

Invensys launches InFusion

Invensys introduced its enterprise control system to link the enterprise and plant floor systems. Called InFusion, the enterprise control system wraps technologies from Invensys’ Avantis, Foxboro, Simsci-Esscor, Triconex and Wonderware business units around its ArchestrA unified architecture, then combines it with integration technologies from Microsoft and SAP to create a business control strategy that optimizes asset availability and asset utilization to maximize the economic value derived from those assets. Company officials unveiling the system in Boston on April 11 said InFusion will help industrial enterprises more effectively align plant operations and maintenance with the business operation.

“By combining the latest capabilities from across Invensys into one unified architecture, Invensys has realized a step change in the utilization of open technologies and standards in a fully industrial system,” said Mike Caliel, president of Invensys Process Systems.

InFusion marks the emergence of the enterprise control system, which enables manufacturers to develop solutions that break down the traditional barriers that have, in the past, resulted in islands of automation. “Maximizing the performance of your manufacturing assets requires a two-pronged strategy: utilize real-time information from every area and plant to inform people and your business systems; and provide a dynamic feedback mechanism to allow you to swiftly respond to changes to optimize business performance throughout the enterprise,” said Greg Gorbach, vice president of collaborative manufacturing research at ARC Advisory Group. “Invensys' Enterprise Control System is designed to work with existing enterprise and plant systems (Invensys or otherwise) to enable this strategy. The ultimate goal is to provide closed loop control for your business processes. At ARC, we believe that this is exactly what manufacturers are looking for.”

Astronaut among keynotes at ABB’s Automation World

ABB’s 2006 Automation World event will be May 8 through May 11 at The Hilton Americas in Houston. The 2006 Automation World offers a series of solution-focused seminars and work groups as well as a number of keynotes on key issues facing manufacturing.

Among the keynotes will be retired NASA astronaut Navy Capt. Jerry Linenger, who spent five months aboard the Russian space station Mir. The crew faced numerous challenges, including computer failure and a near-collision with the spacecraft bringing relief supplies. Capt. Linenger and his Russian counterparts still accomplished all mission goals during the tour in space.

Also speaking at Automation World are:

Alan L. Boeckmann, Chairman and CEO, Fluor Corporation on Tuesday, May 9. Boeckman will address major market and technology trends affecting the automation markets. The presentation provides an outside view of where the global markets are taking the automation industry by addressing the challenges and trends affecting manufactures and suppliers and the strategies to address these trends.

Dinesh, Paliwal, Chariman and CEO, ABB North America on Tuesday, May 9. Paliwal and member of the ABB Group Executive Committee will review key achievements and challenges and provide a guide to making the Automation World experience successful.

Fred Kindle, President and CEO, ABB Group on Thursday, May 11. Kindle will share his perspectives on global markets and ABB’s performance around the world.
To register for the 2006 Automation World, go to the Website at www.abb.com/automationworld.

Siemens acquiring Controlotron

Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. acquired Controlotron Corporation of Hauppauge, NY. The company expects to close the deal in May 2006.

Siemens is a global leader in process instrumentation and factory automation. Controlotron is a leader in non-intrusive ultrasonic flow measurement and is expected to enhance Siemens' position in this key market segment. Siemens intends to operate the company from its Hauppauge location, which it plans to make a center of competence for ultrasonic flow measurement. Controlotron employs approximately 120 people, to whom Siemens will extend formal offers of employment one week prior to the closing.

"The purchase of Controlotron will strengthen Siemens' portfolio and broaden its presence in the process instrumentation market," said Aubert Martin, President and CEO, Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc.

Steady growth for manufacturing continuing

Two new reports show steady growth and continued optimism for the manufacturing sector.

The quarterly Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI Survey on the Business Outlook showed a March 2006 composite index of 74 equals that of the previous December 2005 survey, an indication that the industrial component of the U.S. economy, with the possible exception of the auto industry, remains on firm ground.

A composite business index above 50 indicates that overall manufacturing activity is expected to increase over the next three months to six months. It should be noted, however, that the index measures the direction of change rather than the absolute strength of activity in manufacturing.

Eight of the 10 factors measured by the quarterly survey were higher than the previous report.

The profit margin index showed the greatest improvement, jumping from 74% in December to 82% in March, setting a new record by surpassing the index’s previous high of 79% reached in June 2004.

Two other individual indexes equaled their all-time highs. The export orders index, which measures how first quarter 2006 orders are expected to compare with those of first quarter 2005, increased from 74% in December to 78% in March. This ties the 78% reached in March 1995 and in March 2005 and indicates that for a wide majority of firms profit margins are higher than one year ago. The investment index reflects executives’ expectations for capital investment in 2006. The index improved to 81% in this survey from 79% in December 2005, tying the record high in December 2003, indicating that most see investment rising in 2006.

The orders index, which compares new orders for the first quarter of 2006 with the same quarter one year ago, increased from 84% in December to 89% in March.

The research and development index also improved from 69% in December to 74% in March, and indicates an increase in R&D spending in 2006.

The capacity utilization index, based on the percentage of firms operating above 85% of capacity, jumped from 42.0% in December to 45.8% in March, while the number of firms operating at less than 75% of capacity decreased from 8.0% to 6.8%, yet another positive sign for manufacturing.

The inventory index rose from 64% in December to 67% in March, indicating inventories continue to be higher on a year-to-year basis.

The forward-looking annual orders index, based on a comparison of expected orders for all of 2006 with orders in 2005, rose from 91% in the December 2005 survey to an even stronger 92% in the current report. Interestingly, only 3% of the respondents indicated they expected fewer annual orders in 2006.

The latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, issued by the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, says economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in March for the 34th consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 53rd consecutive month.

The PMI indicates that the manufacturing economy grew in March for the 34th consecutive month as it registered 55.2%, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points when compared to February’s seasonally adjusted reading of 56.7%.

ISM’s New Orders Index grew in March with a reading of 58.4%. The index is 3.5 percentage points lower than the seasonally adjusted 61.9% registered in February. March is the 35th consecutive month the index has exceeded 50%.

ISM’s Employment Index expanded for the 10th consecutive month in March. The index registered 52.5% in March compared to the seasonally adjusted 55% registered in February, a decrease of 2.5 percentage points.

The delivery performance of suppliers to manufacturing organizations was slower for the 33rd consecutive month in March. ISM’s Supplier Deliveries Index for March registered 53.1%, an increase of 0.9 percentage points when compared to February’s seasonally adjusted reading of 52.2%.

ARC conference to focus on enterprise performance

Top industry visionaries will share their experiences and best practices for driving manufacturer enterprise performance at ARC Advisory Group's Fourteenth Annual Forum, “ Driving Enterprise Performance through Next Generation Manufacturing Concepts ”.

This event will bring together over 400 top industry executives to explore best practices for driving top performance from all plant and supply chain resources though coordination across four key performance drivers: Design, Operate, Maintain and Synchronize. The forum will run from June 26-28, 2006 at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston.

Product design, plant design, operational excellence, asset management, and supply chain are all critical to Enterprise Performance. Manufacturers must beat the competition in each of these areas to survive in today’s challenging markets. And, they must drive interoperability across areas to win.

“These are all key issues on the minds of manufacturing executives today,” said ARC president and founder Andy Chatha. “At the forum, top manufacturers will present the strategies, technologies, and best practices they are using to address these challenges as well as the real benefits they are seeing from their efforts.”

For more information, go to www.arcweb.com .

Participate in maintenance benchmarking survey

Klaus Blache from General Motors Corporation will conduct a maintenance benchmarking survey modeled after a similar study done several years ago while he was chairman of the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals.

The purpose of the study is to compile current maintenance benchmarking information and viewpoints by repeating parts of two past studies done (1991 & 1997). Blache conducted the earlier analysis, and these results will be compared to looks at trends.

Survey participants also will be given the resulting report. As before, the survey uses ratios and percentages for anonymity and no company names are ever mentioned. A summary of the findings will be published in PLANT ENGINEERING.

To participate, download a PDF version of the survey, which can be found at www.plantengineering.com under the‘In The News’ section. It should be filled out, scanned and emailed to kmb-mail@hotmail.com .

Campbell Awards highlight safety excellence

The Robert W. Campbell Award Program Committee’s call for applications for the 2006 award seeks successful business models from organizations that excel in both SH&E and business performance. Case studies must demonstrate how measurable achievement in SH&E performance is linked to productivity, profitability and other measures of business performance. Companies compete within separate size categories; 1,000 or more employees, and fewer than 1,000 employees.

This award is co-developed by its administrator, the National Safety Council, and its underwriter, Exxon Mobil Corporation. PLANT ENGINEERING magazine is a contributing sponsor to the award. In addition, the Award is supported by a global network of organizations that provide worldwide outreach.

Written submittals are reviewed by an international panel of experts. Winning success stories are published and showcased at various conferences throughout the year. Applications for the 2006 award competition are due June 30. Evaluation criteria and submission requirements are available at www.CampbellAward.org.

ARC offers WebForums on manufacturing, wireless

As part of its second quarter WebForum series, ARC Advisory Group will highlight recent research findings in the manufacturing and supply chain industries. Each WebForum will be presented by an ARC senior analyst and will be followed by an interactive question and answer session.

“Improving Plant Performance through Design, Operate, Maintain Interoperability” will be aired May 18 at 11 a.m. EST. This WebForum will discuss plant performance improvement, a new model incorporating Design, Operate, and Maintain (DOM) as the three factors of plant performance will be described and the critical interdependencies between these factors will be examined. DOM Interoperability is identified as a vital component of Plant Performance Improvement.

“Emerging Wireless Technologies in Manufacturing” will air on June 12 at 11 a.m. EST. The development of battery-powered wireless products has been very challenging and long in coming. How can manufacturers deploy them successfully for the long term when their underlying technology is changing so rapidly? What should serve as a long-term roadmap and what will be the impact of other technologies or industries? This WebForum will explore these questions and provide a perspective of where wireless is headed in manufacturing. This WebForum will be presented by Senior Analyst Harry Forbes.

For further information or to register for any of these Webcasts, please go to: www.arcweb.com/events/webforums/webforum.htm


Bentley announces expanded Asia initiatives

Bentley Systems has moved the headquarters for its Asia operations to China and will make its Power Program subscriptions available to the Chinese audience as a continuing effort to recognize the infrastructure growth opportunities in China.

“China is experiencing an infrastructure boom of historic proportions and will invest $800 billion dollars in infrastructure over the next five years,” said Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems. “It ranks No. 3 in the $4 trillion global construction market and No. 1 in growth %%MDASSML%% growing at an astounding 11% rate.”

“We offer that there is considerable infrastructure synergy between Bentley and China,” Bentley added. “China has the firm commitment as well as abundant technical skills to improve its society through world-class infrastructure. Our software can act as a catalyst %%MDASSML%% helping to join those two and maximizing China’s success. As partners, Bentley and China’s infrastructure community can also make each other better in responding to global opportunities.”

Nanotechnology advisory committee formed

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association created the Nanotechnology Advisory Council, a panel of experts intended to provide guidance to the electrical manufacturing community on this emerging technology.

“President Bush made it clear in his recent State of the Union address that the development of nanotechnology is vitally important to the future of this nation. We agree with the president,” said NEMA President Evan Gaddis. “The establishment of an industry advisory council will help electrical manufacturers take the lead in the development of this revolutionary technology.”

The new council will be a resource for manufacturers interested in the research and public policy implications of nanotechnology development, as they themselves seek to apply the technology to their products. The council will be comprised of nanotechnology experts in academia and government. Council members will be announced in the coming weeks.

Nanotechnology is expected to produce breakthrough performance enhancing applications in photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, sensors, structural materials in electrical equipment and fuel cell technology, among others.

NEMA lighting manufacturers are already studying possible nanotechnology applications. Through the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, administered by NEMA, manufacturers are working with the Department of Energy to evaluate the possible use of nanotechnology in solid-state lighting semiconductors. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that DOE designate one of five federal nanotechnology research centers as a national solid-state lighting center. Congress has appropriated $5 million to fund it.





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