It was a good two days!


An eagle's eye view of #AutoFair!

I’m beginning to loose count, yes, it was the fourth automation conference of this Autumn season that we prefaced with our blog, Two hectic weeks, possibly a misnomer since in reality it was in fact nearly six weeks when we take Invensys OpsManage as well as Emerson’s User Group Exchange and the first ISA Automation Week (which we actually attended physically) and now Rockwell’s Automation Fair last week. This was held in Orlando in Florida (US) this year (as was the Invensys event!).

The 2010 Post-Automation Fair website showcases resources from this annual event, including presentations, product demos, keynotes and much more. Walk the Showroom Floor to experience the Rockwell Automation booths from the 2010.
3rd – 4th Dec 2010.
15 Technical Streams

Sneak Preview – are you ready?

Pictures (ROK)
ROKAutomation’s Channel (Videos)

The JournalRA’s Channel (more videos)
Some of the presentations (Slideshare)

Press Releases:
Rockwell Automation Opens Doors to 19th Annual Automation Fair Event (3/11/2011)
Latest Generation PlantPAx Process Automation System (1/11/2011)

ControGlobal #AutoFair eNews

Editorial/Blogs etc

PepsiCo’s machine Safety Approach  (Joe Feeley, 12/7/2011)

Process, Safety, “Greenprint,” and Economic Recovery Highlight Automation Fair 2010 (Craig Resnick and John Blanchard – ARC advisory 14/1/2011()

Smart, Safe & Sustainable Manufacturing (Bill Lydon December 2010)

Social media marketing truly is elsewhere (Automation News 22/11/2010)

Rockwell’s Automation Fair draws a crowd (Automation World 9/11/2010)

Video Essay wrap-up (Gary Mintchell 9/11/2010)

Invensys IOM strategy explained (Jim Pinto 9/11/2010)

Thousands Descend On Orlando and Rockwell’s Automation Fair (Gary Mintchell 8/11/2010)

Where are our editors? Where is Walt? (Walt Boyes 4/11/2010)

Interview with Rick Sabo of item North America (YouTube Theresa Houck 3/11/2010)

Highlights top 10 enhancements showcased in the IA booth (Podcast)

Rockwell Process Continues To Build Momentum (Gary Mintchell 1/11/2010)

CISCO at #AutoFair (youTube 29/10/2010)

Follow #autofair on twitter; als0
#psug and Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and YouTube

What we said about last year’s event held in Anaheim: Automation Fair produces many reports!

This article from Telesian talks about Rockwell’s plans for integrating Social Media.

So what was it like to attend vicariously via twitter and the various social networking sites? The title above “It was a good two days!” is a tweet made at the end of the week.

Well as with the other shows our only measure is in fact these tweets telling us how things are progressing and where to find stuff. We tried to keep up with these on our Read-out Instrumentation Signpost Home page. The final tweet we have used as a title to this piece! “It was a good two days!”

Many of us were curious as to just how many tweeters there would be, and we had something to measure against in the previous three events. Gary Mintchel voiced this “We’ll see how many tweeters they have.!” Indeed Rockwell themselves are prolific tweeters and my Twtterrific had quite a number of tweets from the ubiquitous but sadly anonomous @Automation Fair in the weeks leading up to the event giving links and little morsels of what was in store for attendees and how to book a place. I wasn’t conscious of such a build with the other events. (See article linked at bottom of box on right on Rockwell and Social Media!). It is always exciting to szee tweets from people as the pack, board planes or “Just crossed into FL on my way.” Hopefully tweeted from a car and not from a plane!

The event proper started on the 4th November but there were the build-up allied-event Process Solutions User Group (#PSUG) with educational sessions, keynotes (including ARC’s Larry O’Brien who addressed “Top Challenges of End Users in Process Automation”), applications. This attracted around 65o delegates and the meaty tweets started immediately.

“John Nesi VP Market Development talks about the global economy and where Rockwell sees themselves going.”…”Nesi: ‘Sustainabilty is about putting productivity to work in environmentally friendly ways’…”Need to track and report carbon emissions is ‘looming necessity’ for manufacturers”….”Convergence of automation and information systems….” and “‘Rockwell realigning global solutions biz around vertical industries!’ says Som Chakraborti”…”Larger CapEx projects and smaller skids are key avenues for PlantPAx application growth.”… and so on.

On that first day there were no fewer than 57 tweets from the meeting. However as more and more people began to descend on Orlando the number of tweets increased to 195 on the 2nd November and 142 on the third (when Automation Fair “proper” started) and to 111 on the final day. Obviously total exhaustion had set in by the 5th November when for brave souls tweeted – or perhaps croaked might be a better verb to use!

The event was well covered with a daily newsletter brought out by Walt Boyes, Nancy Bartels and Keith Larson of Control Global. Rockwell’s own Theresa Houck had a number of video interviews on the exhibition floor as well.

We purposefully avoid a detailed report in any of these event commentaries and have endevoured to give an impression as somebody not present and trying to glean as much while sitting in front of a laptop. The links are from  people who were there in person and therefore have a better idea of the atmosphere etc. The links are given in the box on the right hand side.

So now’s the time to rest? Yes? No I’m afraid not. Automation ISA2010 is on in Brazil from 7th November, OpsManage EURO in Paris the folowing week, SPS/IPC/Drives the week after in Nuremberg, and as if that weren’t enough Christmas is coming on 25th December….

The Next #Autofair is in Chicago November 16-17, 2011

Automation publication changes ownership


Andrew Bond

We have praised and recommended Andrew Bond’s Industrial Automation Insider over the years and have used some of his material in this blog and in Read-out, our print publication. It is typical of the man to arrange for a competent takeover of his publication to an almost equally well known journalist in Britain in the person of Nick Denbow.

I have known Andrew for many years now and have the greatest respect for him as a person and for his knowledge and expertese in the business. He is a guy who always knows the pertinent question to ask and equally he is unafraid to say things as he sees them.

We wish him well in his future ventures.

He sent this valedictore statement to his many subscribers.

“After nearly 14 years as Editor of Industrial Automation INSIDER, the first four under its original title of SCADA Insider, and more than 11 as owner and publisher, I am passing over both the editorship and ownership of the title and its associated web site to Nick Denbow with effect from the September 2010 issue. Nick takes over complete responsibility for the editorial content, production and distribution of the title and fulfilment of existing subscriptions with immediate effect, although I will continue to provide advice and some editorial input on a consultancy basis.

“Nick, like me, is a Cambridge University engineering graduate and also, unlike me, a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Institute of Measurement and Control. He also, again unlike me, brings the benefit of 25 years of actual practical experience in the industry, notably with Bestobell Mobrey and Platon, to INSIDER as well as more recent experience in marketing, PR and as the founder editor of the pioneering ProcessingTalk web site.

“To ensure continuity Nick has since January of this year been playing an increasing role, both contributing editorially and representing us at a wide range of industry events. As a result I am confident that he will not just maintain but enhance the quality and breadth of coverage to which INSIDER subscribers have become accustomed.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank subscribers for their generous support over the years and, in some cases, since the very first issue in January 1997, and urge them to show the same level of support and encouragement to Nick in the coming months and years.”

Nick Denbow

We have also known Nick Denbow for many years and as Andrew says above he has the experience and knowledge of the industry with the added bonus of actual practical experience in handling hardware with Bestobell and Platon. His groundbreaking work with Processing Talk made his name almost universally known in the virtual world of social media.

We wish him well in this new responsibility and look forward to continued incisive analysis of the automation industry both in Great Britain and throughout the world.

Maximising your Automation Week experience – on-line!


We mentioned in a side box in a recent blog that ISA’s Automation Week 2010: Technology and Solutions Event features an online community to help you network with like-minded automation professionals.

We have now had a chance to go through the community site and it really is very good and well worth it for participants in this event.

Here are four things you can do on the community site.

It's good to talk!

    Start a conversation.
    Make the conference about you.
    Find out about what you want to know by asking the speakers and attendees what’s on your mind. (Some conversations have started already – will you be attending Dick Morley’s Cowboy event on Wednesday? you can learn more about it here, Yah Hoo!).

    Build a schedule.
    You can build your own personal schedule and take it anywhere you like. Export it to outlook or iCal to carry your schedule on your phone/pda, or print it out and bring it with you (This is possibly the coolest part of this resource, especially if you hate going through programmes and wondering what to do. I can’t wait to play with this. You will also see who else is going!)
    Connect with people within your industry.
    Once you build your profile, the online community will give you a list of people that you “match” with based on your interest that you have tagged yourself with. How could networking get any easier? (I nice feature too, again looks fun. “Contacts” helps you match with relevent attendees.)

    Schedule private meetings.
    Do you have some people that you absolutely need to spend some time with while you are at ISA Automation Week? Why not schedule some time for the two or three of you to meet. It’s easy to set up and edit. (Again this is a good example of easy to arrange meeting schedules!)

“Make the most of your conference experience by joining and participating at the ISA Automation Week online community today,” advises a spokesperson.

Participants in this event may start their experience now by clicking on the “Online Community link” (on the right hand side of the main Automation Week home page and setting up a profile. Lots have including the writer. I look forward to seeing you on-line and in person in Houston.

See you there.

Staying with the coriolis flow


New online community addresses customer feedback by providing ways to connect and collaborate with peers online about Coriolis flow and density measurement

We have noted before that Emerson seems to be ahead of the posse when it comes to utilising this new thing we call social medal. Here is another example.

Tom Moser, President & Chief Blogger MicroMotion

Emerson Process Management has launched an online resource to help users find new ways to increase their knowledge while connecting with peers on Coriolis flow and density measurement issues. Based on feedback from users of Emerson’s Micro Motion® flow and density meters who wanted to access and share such information online, the Micro Motion Online Community was developed to serve this customer base and introduce Coriolis flow and density measurement technology to new users.

The new Micro Motion Online Community provides a forum for exploring industry-specific measurement challenges, discussing Coriolis flow and density applications, and sharing best practices to optimise user processes. In addition, community members can network with peers, learn more about available Coriolis flow and density measurement technologies, and even poll other members to learn about measurement trends.

The Micro Motion Online Community features blogs, private and public groups, videos, event listings, a knowledge wiki, and polls. Users can build their network by “friending” each other and exchange instant messages directly with these contacts.

“We hope the online community will not only increase our touch points with our Micro Motion customer base, but will encourage conversations among our users and non-users within particular industries and application uses,” said Tom Moser, president and “Chief Blogger” at the Micro Motion division of Emerson. “The social aspect has an important role in the community. We hope this will be more than just a basic ‘question and answer’ session but, instead, will bring users together to share experiences and knowledge and also build their networks.”

If other companies are doing similar things it might be a good idea to publicise it!

A tale of two media!


The end of this week saw two things that starkly mark out the extraordinary changes that are effecting publishing, specifically publishing in the field of engineering and automation.

The final issue!

Good bye and thank you!
The first was the very sad notice of the decision of the Reed-Elsivier which announced in a rather bald statement on the Control Engineering website, “As of April 16, 2010, the remaining publishing brands and their associated products and services have closed.” The site itself will will close on April 30, 2010.

Though not quite a bombshell, the company had announced last July that it was intending divesting itself of as many of the publications as possible and in fact did sell of a number of them, it sadly however, did not include Control Engineering or Plant Engineering, two stalwarts of the American automation media.

The CEO of RBI, Kieth Jones in his unenviable task of informing the world of the decision said, “These publications have had very experienced, professional and committed teams running them in the most difficult of circumstances. However, their trading performances have been under pressure for some time and the impact of the recession and media migration in the markets for these titles is such that we cannot see our way back to profitable growth.”

But what does this mean? Walt Boyes in his Sound Off blog comments, “What it does NOT mean is that automation and plant operations are not served well by magazines. What this means is that the mega-giant Reed Business Information couldn’t find buyers for some magazines that they no longer supported.”

It echoes the fate of another magazine some 15 years ago in Britain, Control & Instrumentation (C&I) and its associated exhibition which died for the same reason. Lack of enthusiastic support on the part of a huge conglomorate.

The automation industry and community is the poorer for their passing. The automation publications in the US, and elswhere, have an special relationship with each other and with their industry. Each has a unique place and viewpoint and thus a perhaps unbridgeable gap will be left in the American automation scene.

All publications are feeling the pinch in these times and hopefully the three remaining automation publications, InTech, which became a bimonthly earlier this year, Control and Automation World will continue to provide their individual perspective in our diverse industry.

This is a sad day indeed for those who have served the automation community through these publications, all we can say with great sincerity is how sorry we are at what has happened and thank you all for your years of service to our discipline.

Valé adque avé – welcome
Not all is gloom and doom however and we are pleased to confirm that David Greenfield, who was editorial Director at Control Engineering until recently, is now Editorial Director at Design News – which is now owned by Canon Communications along with Electronic Design News (EDN), Test & Measurement World and Packaging Digest. (Incidentally Canon Comunications is also responsible for the Advanced Manufacturing UK show in England which we hope to attend on 27th April 2010 – volcano permitting!).

Well done Jim!
Also during this week we learned of a high honour to somebody who has used the new publishing media to great effect not only in the service of his company but also in the spreading of information on the new and exciting technologies becoming available in the automation and processing sectors. We are talking about Jim Cahill, whose blog, Emerson Process Experts, received BtoB Magazine’s BtoB Social Media Awards 2010 in the blog category. This is a not insubstantial plaudit and the citation deserves repeating here.

Connecting with the People behind the Technologies and Expertise

“If there were a lifetime achievement award for b-to-b social media marketing, Emerson Process Experts would be in the Hall of Fame. Jim Cahill started this blog in early 2006, when few people even knew what a blog was.He’s kept at it over the years, adhering to a rigorous update schedule and adding new features like a Twitter feed and Flickr photo gallery as those platforms became available. Emerson Process Experts is notable for its singularity. In a market in which few competitors have adopted any form of social media at all, Cahill has been years ahead of his competitors. His topics are the kind of meat-and-potatoes technology discussions that matter to Emerson customers. These people don’t make many buying decisions, but when they do make them, the price tags are in the millions of dollars. And thanks to Jim Cahill, when they go to Google to look for “Process Control,” Emerson is right there at the top.

It is difficult to add to that eulogy. In the short time that it has been possible to see what is happening in the new “instant” media vehicle facilitated by broadband connections his contributions have been interesting and frequent. He knows how to foster “virtual” relationships. Many have never met the guy – although as an Irishman I have learned that he, like all Americans, mispronounces his surname – but through his blog and other contributions, twitter etc they have come to know him. This is the democratic power of  social networking over the web. Somebody in Ireland, or Brazil, or Austin Texas can feel that they “know” somebody they have never met, and perhaps never will meet. His blog is after all about Connecting with the People behind the Technologies and Expertise.” That in part is the reason Jim Cahill’s blog has achieved this recognition and citation. Our thanks to him.

  • See also item Best Corporate Blog based on Emerson’s release (22 Apl ’10)

  • ISA on track


    Participation requested

    Get in there and give your view on our discipline!

    Our ISA” is a community of automation professionals discussing and debating the past, present, and future of the International Society of Automation.  Anyone who has a point to make, a bone to pick, or a wrong to right can do it here.”

    Building up ISA

    Thus starts a new participatory site for discussing constructively the future of the International Society of Automation (ISA)

    The society has been the leading light in automation, especially in the English-speaking world and in the Americas for over sixty years. Recently the changes in communication (like this blog) which is being called Social Media or perhaps more accuractly, Social Networking, have made all of society, business, associations and government look seriously at what they are about. The ISA is no exception.

    Gary Mintchel, of Automation Weekly, comments “All organizations seem to go through this at some point. Who owns it? The leadership and staff? Or the members?” The initial posts on this blog seem to be awakening real discussions and suggestions.

    In addition the “Global slump” and credit crunch have made what appeared to be permanent and reliable businesses and business models weak and suddenly vulnerable.

    We discussed this a few months ago in a blog entitled “Whether ISA!” While things have progressed since then including many painful changes have occurred. However there is always the danger in re-organising entities in times of great change like today of merely tinkering with a model that has proved so successful in the past – building our new business model on the old and let’s face it proven model in the past. But the problem is that the past is not the present. The past doesn’t appear to be working. Who reads newspapers for news now?

    So this new site, which, as it says, is independent of, though not inimical to, the ISA, can be a very useful catalyst for change.

    So get in there all you automation professionals and spell out your ideas.  Jon DiPietro who has started this initiative explains, “…that’s what it’s all about – spreading ideas.”

    Social media!


    What are you doing?

    We’ve been looking at the various things happening on line over the past few months. Generally they are referred to as “social media,” or WEB 2. They are methods of sharing information. The ISA’s Social Media Survey Report (June 2009) gives an interesting insight into automation professionals’ increasing use of these resources.

    Basically they seem to be divided into three types of communication. The links provided in the body of this article are WIKI links which gives general information on each of the types of social media. One should be aware that not everything on a WIKI page is always accurate. Links to actual social media sites are included in the box. WIKI itself may be classed as social media of a collaborative nature in that anybody may write or amend the information listed.

    The blog has been with us at least since the mid 1990s. This is essentially a sort of diary and they are mostly open to all though there may be restricted access. These have been available for years and nowadays they usually have a space so that readers may post comments which may or may not be moderated by the owner of the blog. The amount of stuff published on blogs is as eclectic as humanity itself.

    Get involved!
    We use twitter and Linkedin for business and facebook more for family and hobby stuff.
    Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
    Over 40 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities
    twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
    WIKIPEDIA A free encyclopedia built collaboratively using Wiki software.
    Fliker – share your photos!
    YouTube – share your videos!
    DimDim delivers synchronized live presentations, whiteboards and web pages while sharing your voice and video over the Internet – with no download.

    Social Networking
    A more recent phenomenon is Facebook (since 2004). Access to most of these pages may be restricted to what are called “friends” who are approved by the facebook page owner. A feature of this is the “Wall”. The Wall is a space on each user’s profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see while displaying the time and date the message was written. There is facility for others to comment on matter printed on the page. Pictures and other information may be posted on these pages. To a large extent in effect these pages are used more for personal information than commercial stuff. It would not be the first place one would go for the latest advances in automation!

    Much more business oriented is LinkedIn (2003). Not unlike Facebook it facilitates groups and discussions. It’s orientation is far more suitable to serious (as distinct from casual) use.

    Finally we come to what I call “instant” communication essentially we are talking about twitter (2006) here (though there are others such as the less business oriented PLURK). These are “open” communication messages which virtually anybody can access. The length is limited though a linkable URL may be used provided the length limit is not exceeded. A subscriber may decide which other subscriber he or she wishes to follow and also may “bar” other subscribers from following them. Thus one can limit the actual stuff that one reads on ones “wall”. In my experience this can be a very useful resource provided you control yourself in the number of people you follow! If you try to follow people in the Automation Industry then there are a few places these can be found. If a search is done #PAuto or #ISA one can find some subscribers to follow (but you’ll have to sign up first!). Because the use of twitter in this area is fairly recent the number of automation professionals online is relatively small – the pioneers one might say. Individuals from companies like Emerson, Wonderware, TAG are leading the way as are journalists notably Walt Boyes, Gary Mintchell and our humble selves! As a publisher I have had a few useful leads from this resource in the past month alone.

    Multimedia sharing (photographs, videos, webconferencing and music) may be shared also using freely available facilities. YouTube in particular is beginning to be used extensively by companies.

    In using all these facilities one should always be aware of the openess of the medium being used. It is easily accessible to anybody. Even where one tries to put a restriction on access it is best to assume that everybody cann see it. Your competitors among others.

    The presentations especially designed for ISA Volunteers and presented by Jon di Pietro and Shari Worthington at Indianapolis in the Summer are a useful resource for people who want to understand what’s what in cyberspace! These may be found on Jon’s Slideshare pages.

    Another resource where you can follow the progress of social media is SocialMediaToday a moderated blog on social media for the business community.

    Welcome to cyberia!!