Updated: 8/5/09; 2:59:54 PM.
Gary Mintchell's Feed Forward
Manufacturing and Leadership.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Marketing people are all rushing to try out "social media" for marketing purposes (advertising, pr, engage community, whatever). John Dvorak (the Cranky Geek) says here that they should watch out. People don't go to a place to meet their friends expecting to get overwhelmed with marketing messages.

He has a point that should be considered. That's why I like the way Jim Cahill approached blogging for Emerson Process Management. It's not the usual marketing stuff, but a way of bringing real experts (therefore the name Emerson Process Experts) into conversation, or at least awareness, to his community--and probably well beyond Emerson users. Bill Marriott is trying to do something like that with his blog--put a personal face on a corporation. I've seen a few companies start and stop. It's really hard to do. But some others in our niche of the market are trying. Siemens PLM is another company blog that shows personality and promise. Carl Henning with the PTO blog is another who has reached a decent audience with good content. And I guess another is Eric Murphy at the OPC Exchange Blog.

Twitter is tougher to figure it out, and I'm not sure anyone has, yet. When Oprah and Ashton Kutcher (sp?) got into a competition for followers on Twitter, it sparked a huge increase in sign ups. But after the initial enthusiasm, most have not done anything with it. So, I'm still figuring it out, too. One possible use would be questions during presentations. But a local chat might work for that too (other followers may wonder what's going on).

Then there are the Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo social sites. Marketers have begun hitting the groups that are springing up with press releases and marketing messages. We'll see what happens there--if it drives people away from the groups or if it's accepted.

8:34:38 PM    comment []

Just updated my wireless story with additional information. Seems fitting to refer to this article by Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch and leading blogger-as-journalist. It's on process journalism and a debate he's having with The New York Times about whether it's professional to change a post. Well, I side with Michael. Sometimes in the interests of either accuracy or transpanency you've got to update and change.

Sometimes people wonder about my motivation for all this--it's simple. I like to think and I like to write. I don't make any money from this blog--I have a "day job." I don't are about one company over the other--I want to see them all succeed partly because it helps my day job and partly because I know hundreds of really great people who depend upon those companies for good jobs. Compared to other "industries" I've been in, there are so few arrogant a***** in this one that it's a real joy.

8:21:25 PM    comment []

[Updated 5 pm local time--I knew I was in too much of a hurry, but then this is a continuing story...]

Far too much to write, far too little time this morning--in Phoenix at the Honeywell User Group meetings. I did put some pictures from the keynotes up on my Flickr account. The theme was Return on Imagination officially, but really it was "One Honeywell" with subthemes of wireless and energy.

One Honeywell refers to how various business units of Honeywell are integrating efforts in various ways to bring new solutions to market. Interesting new knowledge (for me) that recent acquisitions such as UOP are not part of Honeywell Process Solutions. Therefore, many of the things those of us on the outside would think of as already one company are not. But they also bring in other divisions such as Building Solutions for coordinated energy management.

The news they really wanted to stress to the media is an Energy Management solution that packages together energy solutions from many Honeywell sources plus consulting and engineering, plus a new Energy Dashboard (available later this year). The dashboard is not just a graphic but the culmination of intense data collection and analytics that has the potential to help operations and engineering (and others) manage a plant not only for process efficiency, but also for energy efficiency. People can see the economic impact of potential (through simulation) or real changes to the process in terms of energy use. Not only manage for efficiency but also for profits. This is an announcement that doesn't sound significant at first glance, but when you think about the ramifications for actually running a plant, it is.

I got some time with Jeff Becker to try to understand the ISA100.11a situation. The press releases from ISA basically said nothing about the specification itself. The proposed standard has been approved by the sub-committee and now goes through a comment review and other reviews before final adoption. As of this writing, two major suppliers support this spec--Honeywell and Yokogawa.

The standard achieves what many (obviously most) of the committee wanted, and that is an all-encompassing standard that specifies a radio, a protocol and an architecture that will work for everything wireless in a plant (we're talking process, not discrete). So, it is robust enough for control and can be used with "mesh" capability, too. It is built on the IEEE 801.15.4 radio (low power) and includes
the 6LoPan specification.

[GM analysis]The WirelessHart specification of the Hart Communication Foundation (and an adopted international standard and the other major wireless specification for process automation at this time) is incompatible with this standard as I understand it. Of course, the major large systems supplier proponent of this standard is Emerson Process Management, but almost all process automation suppliers have signed on and many are due to release products if they haven't already.The WirelessHart specification (which is completed and products are appearing) is a sensor network designed for monitoring and some would debate if it is suitable for control or not. I suppose that the users will decide, then we'll report on actual applications. For reference, for years I was told by those who did not have Ethernet products (specifically for discrete control) that Ethernet was totally unsuitable for control. After writing many application stories about engineers implementing Ethernet in discrete control projects, I don't hear that anymore. Time will tell in these wireless debates, too.

So, users will not get one ubiquitous standard (if they ever really thought they'd get that, they were smoking something illegal--just like the way the wired fieldbus "wars" settled out), but there will be two standards for essentially two kinds of applications. And there are more ISA100 standards under development for other applications. While the two current ones are incompatible, this leaves room for entrepreneurial smaller companies to build gateways that could put your WirelessHart sensor network into a larger ISA100 wireless network--if you should want.

10:15:57 AM    comment []

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