World Batch Forum 2004 focuses on people, markup languages, regulations, more

Regulations, security, batch programming languages, and the human element of batch processing were the focal points of last month’s World Batch Forum.


Regulations, security, batch programming languages, and the human element of batch processing were the focal points of last month’s World Batch Forum. Nearly 150 manufacturing professionals from around the world met in the Chicago area in May to discuss problems and solutions common to batch processing industries. The two-day event embraced a range of topics, including application and industry-specific presentations.

Among the highlights were sessions devoted to the people-element of engineering. Speak the language of business, not of technology, when communicating with business managers was the message of E.L. (Skip) Holmes, associate director, The Procter & Gamble Co. Holmes in his opening day keynote address, ''Lessons from the Tower of Babel.'' He told attendees they need to ''learn the language of the customer or the consumer of our products,'' if projects are to succeed.

Eli Lilly’s James H. Parshall underscored Holmes’ words in his talk: “The often-overlooked—yet ever so important—people aspect of a modular strategy,” telling his audience that “technology is not the challenge, working with people is.” Parshall emphasized the need to train, to communicate, and to plan. “When you think you’ve planned enough, plan again,” he said.

In his presentation, David A. Chappell, Procter & Gamble, put a “human factors” spin on the ISA S88 batch control standard, outlining how human skills fit with the standard. “S88 describes the environment in which we automate, not how to automate,” said Chappell. There is no one solution for all the different needs of automation. Many skills are required, and people’s abilities to acquire those skills vary. Applications require carefully selecting appropriate skills and determining skill levels of workers, he concluded.

Plenty of technical material on the program augmented the emphasis on human factors. Applying B2MML (business to manufacturing markup language), WBF’s XML schemas for integrating automation systems; standards S88 and S95; and securing batch control systems were among numerous topics on the program.

The 10-year-old World Batch Forum promotes the exchange of information on the management, operation, and automation of batch process manufacturing. Its European conference is scheduled for Oct. 11-13 in Mechelen, Belgium. The organization is seeking papers for presentation at the conference. It is particularly interested in submissions covering data integration using ISA S95 and B2MML, continuous and discrete manufacturing using S88 and S95; and issues related to pharmaceuticals manufacturing. Deadline for the submission of abstracts is July 6. For more information, email Charlotta Johnsson or Nick Taylor .

To read more coverage of WBF 2004, click on the links below:

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering,

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