Action/reaction

Though I received a good deal of feedback from a variety of sources to my "Change Engineers" column in the July issue, it was Mark J. Nelson, an engineering product manager at Hilliard Corp. in New York who brought home the impact of the control engineer's shifting job requirements in an email that drew from his experiences.

09/01/2003


Though I received a good deal of feedback from a variety of sources to my "Change Engineers" column in the July issue, it was Mark J. Nelson, an engineering product manager at Hilliard Corp. in New York who brought home the impact of the control engineer's shifting job requirements in an email that drew from his experiences.

Nelson wrote: "The control engineer is typically the driving force in determining what equipment is required and the actual programming that will make the new equipment [operate]. But I have witnessed another set of tasks as being possibly the most important to the manufacturing floor—the level of data acquisition and control that is readily available to product managers.

"To remain competitive, product managers must be able to 'tweak' every variable available to them as to how the product is being manufactured. The more data they can review, the more buttons they can adjust, the better they can dial in a high-production manufacturing line. To do this, they must work hand-in-hand with IT. It is my experience that control engineers have resolved to 'share' many tasks with IT to develop an effective user/computer-friendly process. As a result, control engineers [are now] in the limelight discussing [requirements] with factory management."

Based on feedback from readers like Mark Nelson, I am proud to announce the Control Engineering debut of a column entitled "Insight." The column, authored by Dennis Brandl, president of BR&L Consulting, a N.C.-based consulting firm focusing on manufacturing information technology (IT) solutions, will cover the increasing convergence of IT and engineering.

In this monthly column, Brandl will address specific IT issues and classes of technology, including real-world examples of IT in use in control systems, and providing practical examples as well as personal opinion. I've asked Dennis to not hold back his opinions, because I want to get you thinking about the IT and engineering convergence and to provide more feedback to make Control Engineering ever more vital in delivering the type of information you need most.

This issue also marks the debut of another new addition to our pages: "Voice of Experience." In this question-and-answer article, we will interview engineers and, sometimes, their IT counterparts to learn more about how decisions made at the engineering level affect the outcome of projects. The idea for this article came straight from our readers during a recent focus group study. Our readers told us that hearing directly from other engineers about how they achieved a goal and why they made certain decisions is the type of information that helps align their thinking and can become a source for direct action.

I'm interested in hearing what you think about these new additions.

David Greenfield, Editorial Director, dgreenfield@reedbusiness.com





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