Motherhood, apple pie

View automation, controls, and instrumentation as assets; get the most from your supplier; measure the right things; move info where it's needed; ensure new investments work with the installed base—these are today's "mom and apple pie" for us.Leaders from many leading automation companies told how they partner with end-users and integrators to attack today's automation and business ...

By Mark T. Hoske March 1, 2002

View automation, controls, and instrumentation as assets; get the most from your supplier; measure the right things; move info where it’s needed; ensure new investments work with the installed base—these are today’s "mom and apple pie" for us.

Leaders from many leading automation companies told how they partner with end-users and integrators to attack today’s automation and business challenges, at the Feb. 11-12 ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, Mass.) Manufacturing Strategies Forum in Orlando, Fla. Messages included generous helpings of companies’ abilities. Several leaders also encouraged end-users to choose one automation company for the best competitive advantage. Major end-users that Control Engineering spoke to afterward acknowledged their tendencies to reduce their number of key vendors, but none say a single-vendor arrangement is the way they plan to go.

Here are other snippets I heard and some added questions I raise for you to consider:

"Equipment on the plant floor is finally being seen as a business asset," says Don Davis, Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis.) chairman and ceo.

What are present impediments to allowing your plant-level processes to be recognized as a business asset?

Don Aiken, president of ABB Inc. (Rochester, N.Y.): "Ask your supplier how to get there? What’s available now? How much can they supply? Can relationships with other vendors fill any gaps? Can implementation happen in steps, and is there the required domain expertise?"

Are you narrowing the number of automation vendors you use? Under what conditions would you ever consider partnering with only one?

Peter Martin, vp and chief marketing officer, Invensys (London): "We have to stop integrating technology and start solving business problems with performance-based automation."

Do your tasks on this week’s "To Do" list focus on solving business problems or integrating technology? Should you change a few list items? If so, to what?

Terry Sutter, Honeywell International’s president of Industry Solutions (Phoenix, Ariz.): "Data indicate that almost any plant has 10-15% lost productivity from not understanding the state of the plant."

Do people who need plant-floor information for sound business decisions have the info they need, when and where they need it? How can you help?

John Berra, president, Emerson Process Management (Houston, Tex.), "Remember, the goal of automation is to improve the performance of the plant."

Are you measuring the parameters best for business, and does your present automation architecture/implementation help optimize those measures?

Reinhold Achatz, Siemens vp and vp of OPC Foundation, says, "Everyone has a legacy system. Any new solution has to integrate with the existing system."

With your next installation, what will it take to ease integration with the installed base you plan to keep?

For more, see "Today’s News" items online on Feb. 12 and Feb. 20. A supplement and webcast in May Control Engineering will expand these views, including information from end-users and other automation vendors.

E-mail me your answers or additional questions you’d like addressed, with "March issue Feedback" in the subject line.

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