Updated: 9/30/08; 6:04:04 AM.
Gary Mintchell's Feed Forward
Manufacturing and Leadership.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sorry, forgot to note the specifics of Jan Baan's book. It's "The Way to Market Leadership: My Life As An Entrepreneur." Vanenburg Group. Couldn't find it on Amazon.

3:08:28 PM    comment []

I understand that the Hart people were upset with one of my editorials in Automation World recently. I said something to the effect that I was through speculating on wireless until there was a standard. The comment was in context of the ISA100 committee work. I am not on the committee, as is my colleague Walt Boyes, so I don't have a voice in the proceedings. Walt can speak, and that's OK with me. Since there is so much maneuvering and "politicking" going on, I'll report on ISA100 when there is an ISA100.

On the other hand, WirelessHart is still moving along. It has been adopted by the Foundation and now is approved by IEC as a Publicly Available Specification  (IEC/PAS 62591Ed. 1) as of September 19, 2008. The National Committees of 29 separate countries participated in the approval ballot. WirelessHart Communication, according to the press release, is the first industrial wireless communication technology to achieve this level of international recognition.

"This recognition is a landmark for the process automation industry. WirelessHart Communication fulfills the long-demanded goal of global users for a single wireless communication standard that the major automation suppliers support and that has international status,âo[caron] says Hart Communication Foundation (HCF) Executive Director Ron Helson. "This positive endorsement by the IEC international standards body assures that, just as they have with the 26 million Hart devices installed worldwide, users can purchase and implement WirelessHart-based products with equal confidence."

Released by the HCF in September 2007, WirelessHART Communication is the first open and interoperable wireless communication standard designed to address the critical needs of the process industry for reliable, robust and secure wireless communication in real world industrial plant applications.

The WirelessHart Communication standard builds on established and field-proven international standards including the Hart Protocol (IEC 61158), EDDL (IEC 61804-3), IEEE 802.15.4 radio and frequency hopping, spread spectrum and mesh networking technologies.

2:40:23 PM    comment []

While listening to the second day keynotes at the MESA International conference Tuesday, I started thinking about the value of these conferences. If you just pick up one idea to take back and make yourself a better professional and/or your company more competitive, then you have achieved much. And you have to go looking for it. Unfortunately, there were too many stories of "pointy-haired bosses" making the round--those who don't understand the value of employee involvement in conferences, organizations and standards.

Editors report back from the keynotes, but we can at best just give a little taste of the real presentation. Jan Baan, founder of the namesake company and now founder and executive CEO of Cordys, spoke on the history of Baan and the new software architecture that is now employed by his new company as well as some other forward-thinking companies. (I also received an autographed copy of his book detailing the rise and fall of Baan company.) Boiled down to essentials, the problem with the Baan Co. was loss of focus on customer and technology replaced instead by focus on shareholders and merger activity. A lot of people lost on the deal. Baan himself was gone as an executive by then.

I saw a brief demo of a product from his new company, which is expanding from Europe to the U.S. Workflow and business process engineering are the next big things in my opinion, and Cordys employes objects, rules and the Web to combine into a business process engineering engine. Easy to use and configure, it is quite interesting. It could also find its way into your favorite manufacturing software application.

The second keynoter spoke on innovation. Very interesting follow on to someone who actually had done some of that--more than once. Peter Skarzynski, managing director Strategos (a consulting company made famous by author Gary Hamel) left a few nuggets of wisdom with us on the subject. A few ideas: past performance is no predictor of future success (hmm, Gary thought interjected, should we give money to the current car companies to develop new cars or to innovative startups? or give money to failed big banks or to innovative startups?); listen to those close to the problem (the essence of Lean Thinking, by the way); encourage, teach and support employees; challenge industry orthodoxies; real innovation is business model innovation; dare to be radical; look up and down the value chain. It's about culture, values, people and skills--develop and nurture an innvative company.

7:27:30 AM    comment []

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