Updated: 9/30/08; 6:03:48 AM.
Gary Mintchell's Feed Forward
Manufacturing and Leadership.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jim Cahill asks "what's in a name." No matter which name it probably won't smell as sweet as a rose, but the ISA (Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society--oops what's with that last S?) leadership would like to change the name to "International Society of Automation". There are two important changes here. First -- International. Second -- Automation. Seems ever since we launched Automation World, everyone wants to latch on to the name. (I'm teasing here).

I wrote to the ISA leadership to address a couple of points. First, membership is probably heavily "instrumentation." I told them that to those members, "automation" is a thing. "THE Automation." I, on the other hand not being an instrumentation professional, view automation as a system that includes sensing, control, actuation, feedback, interface, communication and software. You can check out the media kit at Automation World for a description of my ideas on the topic. But that is one perception to overcome.

The second perception to overcome is the word International. Especially with the association poised to elect a president from Brazil. There are evidently many who resist the internationalization of the society. If that block succeeds, it would be too bad. We live more than ever in an international age.

On the whole, I side with Jim. Maybe ISA should just stand for ISA.

8:28:22 PM    comment []

Just received a couple of "teaser" emails from Invensys Process Systems. I leave Monday for Dallas and the "Client" Conference. The message promoted InFusion (remember InFusion) to the brand status of Foxboro, Triconex, Avantis and SimSci-Esscor. The message talks about the new IPS with InFusion at the core. This announcement and next week's conference will be the culmination of the results of planning and change by Paulett Eberhard and her new team. I've written a few times this summer about how important services and project management are to the growth of process automation companies. It appears that Invensys' take on this will be to build on the work that Peter Martin has been doing for many years. Where some competitors are focusing on project management and engineering, service or maintenance, IPS will be working with senior management to assist them in finding ways to run their entire operations more profitably. This is definitely a defining moment for the company. Looking forward to seeing it in action next week.

I don't have my schedule yet, but if any readers are there, send a note. Maybe we can gather over a coffee or glass of wine and discuss process automation strategy. My mobile number is 937.726.1798. Let's hook up.

7:53:02 PM    comment []

Baldor acquisition
Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith, Ark. has announced acquisition of Poulies Maska Inc. of Ste-Claire, Quebec, Canada. Maska is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of sheaves, bushings, couplings and related mechanical power transmission components. It has 180 employees primarily located in Canada and a new facility in China.  Maska's 2007 sales were approximately $33 million. 

According to the press release, benefits of the transaction include:
  • Operating and gross margins significantly exceed Baldor's overall margins
  • Gives Baldor a second plant in China to support international growth
  • Results in leading market share of sheaves and bushings in North America
  • Accretive to Baldor's earnings by approximately $0.03 per year, excluding synergies

4:25:13 PM    comment []

Hmmm, manufacturing in the US is dead--or so many newspaper headlines would have you think. But this article in The New York Times says factory orders in July were higher than forecast.

2:39:21 PM    comment []

Robert Scoble has a good idea, but he'll probably be railroaded out of media for it. How about we talk about things such as policies to encourage innovation, boost science and technology along with education in those areas in our political discourse? Or maybe everyone prefers teen pregnancy, name calling, obfuscating the issues. Criticize a woman publicly and you're a sexist. Spread lies about a man and it's politics. I vote, but I shun politics (even after a graduate school education in the subject--or maybe because of). I got so puzzled by how people can hold opinions on a subject in the face of incontrovertable evidence that I went on a several year binge reading everything on brain science I could find. Now, I don't discuss topics with people who hold strong opinions on it. There is nothing gained. I converse to learn something--not just hear the same old platitudes.

But, let's try to get people to discuss innovation, manufacturing, education--things that matter. I don't care if what's her name has a pregnant daughter. Raising kids is a tough task and a bit of a gamble. What I care is if she's fit to govern. If that ticket wins, she could very well become President. Maybe the media could focus a little more on that, you think?

2:36:59 PM    comment []

During my many travels last month, I had a dinner conversation about the new direction that ISA seems to be taking. ISA is an individual member organization, but it traditionally raised funds from corporations through its Expo held every fall. But attendance and booth sales at the Expo has been in considerable decline for several years. ISA leadership has been looking for alternative funding approaches at the same time that it is defining a new purpose in life. For example, OMAC has always been a "users group." It has redefined its mission and name in its new affiliation with ISA and now actively solicits corporate membership--at a price. The new Standards Compliance Institute will be funded by these very same corporations. "Every time we turn around, we're getting solicited for more money from ISA" was the complaint. I'm thinking that there may be a limit to how much money corporations are willing to send to Raleigh. Corporate managers don't like being viewed as "sugar daddies."

1:12:19 PM    comment []

Companies are really struggling for ways to get a marketing message out. First GE Fanuc Automation changed its name to GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms so that its marketing tag line is part of its name (and therefore reported every time a writer mentions the company). Now Advantech has changed its domain name on the Web to www.buy.advantech.com. On the other hand, Advantech has been pursuing a strategy of selling over the Web. So maybe it is going to increase awareness of Web sales.

10:13:50 AM    comment []

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