Preparation for integration

Coursing through the ISA Show in Houston, I got the distinct impression that things are picking up in the controls and automation universe. There was definitely a certain— though I hate to use this word I will—"buzz" that was palpable in both attendees and vendors. I believe much of the "buzz" centered on a general feeling that the manufacturing part of the economy may finally be tu...

11/01/2003


Coursing through the ISA Show in Houston, I got the distinct impression that things are picking up in the controls and automation universe. There was definitely a certain— though I hate to use this word I will—"buzz" that was palpable in both attendees and vendors.

I believe much of the "buzz" centered on a general feeling that the manufacturing part of the economy may finally be turning a corner after three difficult years. The remainder seemed to feed off a sense, at least from the software vendors, that the integration of hardware and software platforms plant-wide is manufacturing automation's future—and their directive.

Engineers and operators also seem to be coming to terms with this direction as it becomes clear that the number of personnel in manufacturing plants will likely never return to the levels seen as recently as a few years ago and that less manufacturing will occur in North America. As a result, engineers and operators will have a much greater reliance on experts in systems automation and integration to link greater numbers of systems for oversight by fewer people, and also connect with facilities in remote locations.

The biggest integration news to come out of ISA was the announcement of the Microsoft and Invensys alliance. The basis of the alliance will be to more closely link Invensys' ArchestrA architecture with Microsoft .NET and Microsoft's Windows Server System integrated server software. Invensys is positioning ArchestrA as a software architecture that provides a common foundation for the complete integration of a plant's industrial automation devices and applications.

Announcements such as this, and this certainly won't be the last of its type in the coming months and years, underscores the greater need by manufacturers to employ the services of those deeply knowledgeable about system integration. The question is: Do you know how to select the right system integrator(s) to help with the inevitable integration projects coming your way? Control Engineering wants to make sure you enter any discussions about system integration well armed with the proper knowledge to make the best decision for both you and your company. To do this, we are hosting an "Outsourced Integration" Webcast on December 3, 2003, at 11 a.m. eastern.

This Webcast, hosted by our consulting editor, Vance VanDoren, who also operates his own system integration business, will ensure that you not only learn exactly what a system integrator does, but what they should do for you. You'll also learn key points to determine when you need to outsource a project to a system integrator and how to make the critical decision of selecting one integrator over another.

Point your browser to www.controleng.com and click on the Webcast button to register.

dgreenfield@reedbusiness.com





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