On top of trends

To say that current industry trends affect the trajectory of your business or career is a "sky is blue" statement—an obvious or apparent claim. Though many trends are obvious once well under way, catching them on the upswing can increase your advantage in numerous ways, instead of forcing you to deal with after-the-fact impacts.

06/01/2004


To say that current industry trends affect the trajectory of your business or career is a "sky is blue" statement—an obvious or apparent claim. Though many trends are obvious once well under way, catching them on the upswing can increase your advantage in numerous ways, instead of forcing you to deal with after-the-fact impacts.

In this issue, Control Engineering examines three trends that are having broad-reaching affects on manufacturing engineers.

One of these is the role control engineers continue to play in product lifecycle management (PLM). I realize that most manufacturing engineers—who are not design engineers—do not see PLM as being particularly relevant. This is hardly the case. Production engineer involvement in PLM and the product design process can deliver huge benefits: 40% reduction in the manufacturing planning process; 35% cost reduction due to optimized material flow; and a 40% reduction in the number of machines, work centers, and tools required. To learn more, see the article, "Role of Controls in Product Lifecycle Management" on page 32.

Another burgeoning trend is that of control system security. I believe controls security will be to automation investment what Y2K was to enterprise system investment. Why is this important to you? Ensuring that control systems are secure from intrusion is becoming just as important as how well they operate. In terms of investment, as a Control Engineering subscriber, you buy or specify, on average, 13 control and automation product categories. Therefore, you can expect security to affect future purchasing decisions of products linked in any way to your plant's network. For an update on the most recent control system security guidelines from the ISA and NIST, see "Cyber Security Guidance" in this issue online at www.controleng.com . Also, read the most recent control system security report from the GAO in our new resource center at / and see Mark Hoske's "Think Again" column on page 25.

The third trend we address is agility. The increasing on-demand nature of manufacturing today is not only affecting how companies structure their supply chain operations and supporting systems, but also how plants are designed and where they are located. In some industries, having specially designed—boutique—plants that make niche products or materials for a main production facility increasingly are being built very near to or on the premises of the plants they serve. For more on how that affects your job, see "Agile Plants, Agile Engineers" in this issue online.

Watch these trends closely, as they each have potential to affect the way you work and accelerate your bottom-line impact over the next few years.

dgreenfield@reedbusiness.com





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