For geographic reasons, not to mention crass pecuniary ones, we more often that not have to miss many of the important assemblies of automation professionals held to a large extent in the neighbouring island to the west of Ireland – America!
The WBF 2011 NA is a case in point. Held by WBF, the organisation formerly known as the World Batch Foundation, this year it happened in the state of Delaware and we had to be content with following it on twitter and the occasional facebook sharing. WBF is the organisation for production technology and is dedicated to supporting the process automation and operations needs of the technical and management professions in process manufacturing. The group facilitates the interchange and development of information and knowledge in order to help its members succeed and to exert a positive influence on industry.
The intrepid fingers and thumbs of Control’s Walt Boyes, Automation World’s Gary Mintchell and the very much out there inbound marketeer from DomesticatingIT, Jon DiPietro, helped us follow what was happening.
In this excellent photo (taken by an Emerson undercover agent on site and transmitted to Emerson’s on-line wonderkind, Jim Cahill who released it into cyberspace), we see the trio sitting at the back of the hall – where else – blogging furiously!
But enough of this levity what did they say. Well the conference tweets were hash tagged #wbf2011na. Walts however were conveniently gathered together on his SoundingOff blog “2011 WBF NA Conference in Tweets“. Walt had however more responsibilities besides tweeting and blogging. He also had the duty of inducting three distinguished professionals into the Automation Hall of fame. These were John Berra, retired CEO of Emerson Process Management, Dr Maurice Wilkins, vice president of global marketing services for Yokogawa Electric Corp. and Dr Sigurd Skogestad of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Gary Mintchel wrote All about batch-WBF Conference in his Feed Forward blog. “There’s an excellent turnout for this year’s conference. Great examples of using ISA88 and thinking up front leading to faster startups and better operations and documentation.”
There were enligtening keynotes on two of the days, one from V.P. and Chief Engineer, DuPont (Retired) Jim Porter (on Smart Plants – Creating sustainable competitive advantage). One of his points that impressed Jon was ‘To reduce catastrophic risk, minimize the “little things” that grow into “big things!”‘ The other keynote was from former Emerson Process Management Chief John Berra, (Sharpening the Tools – Small Victories Mean Big Improvements). Walt tweets, “Berra says global mfg is back. PMI higher than 50. China growth obvious- US not stopping growth either!” Good news eh?
These keynotes may be viewed on the WBF – Production Technology Livestream site. They are both very well given talks with lots of stimulating ideas and thoughts well worth viewing and listening to.
The conference itself seemed to be quite well attended, which is good news but of perhaps more interest was expressed in one of Gary’s tweets, “There is great diversity of gender, nationality, age at the conference. That is encouraging!”
These conferences are an important facit of keeping up with technologies, techniques and the people who make and use them.