Not a Mickey Mouse event….

02/10/2012
Learning the central motif in the third Automation Week.
Other Reports
How Your Plant Resembles an Amusement Park! (Paul Studebaker, Sustainable Plant)
Advanced Control Foundation at ISA Automation Week  (Terry Blevins, Blog)
A tale of two conferences (Gary Mintchel, Automation World)
ISA Automation Week 2012: Innovation in Orlando (Jim Montague, Control)
Automation Professionals Share Challenges, Solutions at ISA Automation Week 2012 (ISA Official Release)
Automation Professionals attend ISA Automation Week (Automation.com)
ISA Automation Week 2012 (Barry Young ARC)
Not a Mickey Mouse Event, ISA Week Overview (Automation Week)
Fall Leaders Meeting & Automation Week, It’s A Wrap! (ISA Interchange)


President Bob Lindemen Comments:
Real conversations start here!

Proceedings AVAILABLE

Last year we reported on the annual ISA Automation Week held in the port city of Mobile (AL USA). We said that the ISA played to its strengths and demonstrated these to be in the area of training and dessemination of knowledge.

This year in the larger venue in Florida’s Orlando, the strengths and the weaknesses of the event were clear. But the event could by no means be called a flop still less a disaster or a Mickey Mouse event. (See note at bottom of page for this reference “Mickey Mouse Event!”).

Peter Martin introduces the first keynote speaker!

Strong and relevant programme.
The strength was undoubtedly technical programme. ISA again demonstrated unequivically that its top priority was this programme it truly does serve as the cornerstone of the event. It was a world-class conference covering the latest and hottest topics in automation and control across several technical tracks. Each track offered in-depth sessions—ranging from basic to advanced—with information critical to several identified automation and control career paths.

We were unable to attend many of these sessions but those we did attend were quite remarkable in the quality and clarity of the presentations, the breadth of knowledge imparted, the intelligence of the questions asked as well as the number of delegates attending each. The Programme Chairman, Peter Martin of Invensys and his Vice-Chair, Alison Smith of Aspen certainly deserve credit for such a relevent programme.

It was divided into strands or tracks, as they called them, under two broad headings. The first such were called Operational Excellence Tracks which included Control Performance , Asset Performance, Human Perfornace and Safety/Environmental topics. The Technology Excellence Tracks included Wireless and the currently hot topic of Security. As can be seen some of the tracks would have a certain overlap with others and there were inevitably clashes in the programme as due to limitations of time sessions on say Human Performance and Security, or Wireless and Asset Performance would occur at the same times. ISA tried to alleviate this somewhat by providing the conference proceedings for delegates on line on their site. (Only attendees registered to the conference have access to these papers!).

Topics of interest included the Intriguing “Governments & Industrial Security,” “Operational Excellence – the essential Driver of increased profitability, ” “What your DCS knows but wont tell you,” “Are Humans needed in a crisis,” “Getting results from Social Media,” “Establishing an effective plant cybersecurity program,” and, from John Barth of Apprion, “Turnrounds, Real Time and Beyond: How a wireless plant network changed the way we do turnarounds.”

To help people navigate what to attend of the dozens of sessions, ISA again used “Pathfinder” indicating the job function or professional goals who would have most interest particular areas or interests. These headings were Engineer, Technician, management, Acedemia, Marketing and this year for the first time Executive for those particularly interested in how Automation drives excellence and the bottom line.

Any of the sessions I attended rarely had less than about thirty attendees and some had many more.

Walt Disney: Lessons for Industrial Production

Lessons from Walt Disney!
Each day started with a keynote event and on the first day we were addressed by Greg Hale, who is Chief Safety Officer and VP at Walt Disney. He is responsible for the safety of cast members, as staff are called and millions of visitors at the various Walt Disney parks and resorts throughout the world. Despite the name of Walt Disney’s most famous creation it was quite obvious that his organisation was certainley no “Mickey Mouse”organisation. He pointed out that this was due to Walt Disney’s “keys to success,” the four critical areas every employee learns to prioritise that lead to the company’s global reputation for excellence. The keys are “safety, courtesy, show and efficiency,” and he pointed out they ought mean as much to running a sustainable plant as they do to selling Mickey Mouse.

The second day there was an open discussion on the Future of Automation an intriguing insight into the views of suppliers, consultants and end-users into where our profession is or ought to be going. This panel included Invensys Operations Management CEO Michael Caliel, Chet Mroz, CEO Yokogawa America, and Wolfgang Morr, General Manager of NAMUR.

Finally on day three, Travis Capps, VP of Energy & Gasses at Valery Energy Corporation reinforced the oft expressed opinion becoming more and more real to us, “It’s not business as usual anymore.”

Dick Morley surrounded by disciples

Lessons from the Master!
An abiding memory for us was the “Fireside Chat” session with the “Father of the PLC,” Dick Morley, on Tuesday evening. Morley’s Chat offered attendees a rare opportunity to sit and talk with one of automation’s best known legends, a leading visionary in the field of advanced technology development and an inventor who holds more than 20 technology patents. I will hold the sight of “Father” Morley surrounded by a phalanx of devotees like a Greek philosopher of old holding his disciples enthralled with his wisdom. Long may he continue to do so!

Where were the big boys?
We’ve talked about the strengths but of course there were drawbacks and deficiencies too. I suppose the weakest point was the “Solution Providers’ Showcase.” This was the exhibition area and the main problem here was the size of the hall. It was too big for what was on display. The displays and the opportunity to meet stand personnel were good and the delegates were happy enough from what we could ascertain from visitors. The organisation allowed for a large gap in presentations in the middle of the day for eats and networking on the floor. But where oh where were the big solution providers? Where was ABB? Where was Emerson? Where was Rockwell? Where was Endress & Hauser? Where was Yokogawa? Yes some of them provided speakers but unless one attended those particular sessions how could one know?

Siemens were there however and the ISA Partners, Honeywell, Invensys, Cooper Bussman, Maverick, A3 Controls, Fluke and OSIsoft. I was a little disapointed too in the number and variety of tweets eminating from the event using the hashtag #ISAutowk, comparing it, perhaps unfairly, to company sponsored events.

A really busy stand was the ISA Book Store which seemed to be throbbing with activity anytime I passed it and included several new Books still warm from the printing presses.

50 Years of ISAT

This was my last year as ISA Publications Department VP and it was a particular honour for me to present awards on behalf of the Department to the eminent and learned authors. The 5oth birthday of ISA Transactions, the Journal of Automation was also marked. Dr Russ Rhinehart, immediate past Editor, gave a run down on the journal and how it anticipated so many trends and development in the field over the last fifty years and also the emergence of many of the papers from outside of the USA, demonstrating the true international or global reach of the profession. He then cut the Birthday cake. Fire restrictions forbade the burning of fifty candles!

Show Daily from Automation.Com & InTech
Day 1    Day 2    Day 3

The show daily newsletter was published on line each day as last year by InTech, ISA’s magazine and automation.com. This will help get a flavour of the show “as it happened!”

Speaking with ISA Executive Director, Pat Gouhin, while not alluding to its weaknesses confirmed our own view,  “We’ve had an incredible week, with dozens of true legends in their fields sharing their knowledge and insights with a motivated, excited group of attendees.”  This enthusiasm was clear in a comment by a Nigerian delegate “ISA Automation Week has been a stimulating, friendly, learning-intensive event.”  And a tweet (#isautowk)  as everybody was heading home on the last day said “Always learning!” This feature, “Learning,” was echoed again and again by delegates so much so that it could be described as a motif for the event.

This is the third year of Automation Week and hopefully ISA will be able to tweek the changes to ensure a fully successful and exciting event on all fronts in Nashville Tennessee USA for 2013.

Technical Programme Overview!

• “Mickey Mouse Event” This expression refers to something that is small and not too bright, like a mouse. No relation to the Disney Corp.

This report was quoted in the October issue of Industrial Automation & Process Control Insider as follows:

“Eoin O’Riain, of Read-out.net, now in his last year as ISA Publications Department vp, recently reported on the ISA Automation Week, held in Orlando, Florida. The strength of this ISA event was in the technical programme. Peter Martin of Invensys and Alison Smith of Aspen organized a worldclass conference covering the latest and hottest topics in automation and control across several technical tracks. Under the Operational Excellence Tracks these were Control Performance, Asset Performance, Human Performance and Safety/ Environmental: the Technology Excellence Tracks included Wireless, and a hot topic: Security.

On the second day there was an open discussion on the Future of Automation, with a panel that included Invensys Operations Management ceo Michael Caliel, Chet Mroz, ceo at Yokogawa America, and Wolfgang Morr, general manager of NAMUR.

The weakest aspect of the event was the “Solution Provider’s Showcase”, an exhibition hall for commercial sales booths, that was just too big, with no attendance from suppliers like ABB, Emerson, Rockwell, Endress+Hauser and Yokogawa. Those present, like Siemens, and ISA partners Honeywell, Invensys, Cooper Bussman, Maverick, A3 Controls, Fluke and OSIsoft had the full attention of the delegates.

As one delegate from Nigeria commented, the week was a “learningintensive event”: reflecting the ISA strength in ‘Training and Dissemination of Knowledge’”

Advertisements

Walt, wireless and the curate’s egg

03/10/2011

Earlier this month we published a release which, at first glance, appeared to be the approval of the ISA 100.11a 2011 Industrial Wireless Standard by the IEC. We entitled it ISA100 receives IEC approval – yes and no!. What it was in fact was an announcement of recognition of the standard by the IEC “as a publicly available specification, or PAS.”

The release was carefully worded and indeed further down it quoted the chair of IEC’s SC656 Committee, which would in fact oversee the actual approval of the standard, as saying “An IEC PAS allows the early publication of a standard that has obtained consensus in a professional society such as ISA, and will further promote the use of this standard throughout the world!”

As we published our article a commentary was published by the well respected Editor in Chief of Control, Walt Boyes, who is in fact a voting member of the ISA 100 Wireless Systems for Automation Committee. This was critical of the release and of the procedure adopted to get this approval. His article, Truthiness is next to Godliness, in effect stated that the release was, if I may quote the old English expression, “like the curate’s egg.” We quoted from this as a sidebox on our blog. His beef was that the procedure adopted was irregular for the obtaining of full IEC approval and in that it did not follow the usual ISA rubrics in obtaining this approval. In this case the approach to IEC was through a Canadian standards body. He also maintained that the release implied that the standard had in fact full ANSI approval, which it hadn’t, and that as an ANSI approved body it was obliged to process all standards through this, the US standards authority. He also challenged the “openess” of the standard. (Truthiness,” is an Americanism for shading the truth in your favour!)

See also the British based Industrial Automation Insider’s comment in their October issue reproduced below! There is an interesting discussion on this as well on the LinkedIn Industrial Wireless Group.

It now appears that he was tackled by somebody in ISA, in what he thinks were fairly intemperate terms. He has not felt free to divulge the actual correspondance without the agreement of the other party but from a blog he wrote the other day, Truthiness Clarified! we may perhaps make certain broad assumptions.

This person apparantly felt that there were significant errors and misinformation in what he had written about the press release and what it really meant. In the course of this dialogue Boyes believed his integrity was impugned and that, in essence, he was accused of being in the pocket of certain vested interests. Now I have known Walt Boyes for over forty years and somebody less likely to be in anybody’s pocket it would be difficult to imagine. Indeed he says, and I have no difficulty believing it “…as Editor in Chief, I think it is pretty clear that I am an equal opportunity offender,” when it comes to anything he writes. He takes few hostages!

It is more than likely at some stage that ISA100.11a will in fact be approved as an IEC and ANSI standard but perhaps this might happen more quickly if a more unified and regular procedure were adopted by the committee as is the case in the multitude of other ISA standards used throughout the world.

• We had hardly published the above piece when the latest Industrial Automation Insider hit our post box and Nick Denbow corroborated and agreed with a lot of what Boyes wrote in his original piece. We append Nick’s piece here:

Liars, damned liars and manipulative PR writers

One of the main functions of the INSIDER is to read a press release, then sit back and ask how it relates to any other press releases, or even known information about the same subject. The title above is a variation on Mark Twain’sreported comment about “statistics” being worse than even “damned lies” (but no-one knows whether it was a phrase from Mark Twain, or Disraeli, in around 1890). A similar phrase was used in the journal ‘Nature’ in 1885, in the context of describing witnesses as: “Simple liars, damned liars and experts”. But then they had never met a PR agent, because they had not been conceived in 1885 – propaganda, and public relations, was really invented in WW1, probably by the US Government (employing Edward Bernays, nephew of psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud, and Ivy Lee).

Publish: it must be true!
These days, there are so many websites available that merely reproduce any press releases submitted to them, as submitted, that the word-manipulations of the PR agent can sail through to “officially endorsed” publication. Not many of the regular ISA releases reach the INSIDER, because most advertise their future events, rather than present useful information. However their latest release promoting the actions taken over ISA100 with the IEC stretches to the lower depths of the PR art.

ISA finds new route into the IEC The title of this ISA release claims that the ISA100 Wireless Standard Receives IEC Approval: even the capitals imply that the words are formal. But the ISA100 wireless specification is not yet a standard with a capital “S”, in IEC terms, and their approval, with a small “a”, is maybe ‘approval, but not as we know it’, in the words of Star-Trek: in other words, actually, the IEC has agreed to a proposed course of action by the ISA. That course of action is to publish the specification, presumably the one called ISA100.11a-2011, as a “Publicly Available Specification (PAS)”, and that has to be an excellent idea. It is just a pity it has taken what seems to be three years for the queries raised by the participation of a user [Shell Global Solutions] – about the identified problems in ISA100.11a in the “Nice Use Case
Analysis Project” – to be answered (See the background published on www.iainsider.com and in the INSIDER, dated March 2010). This puts a new light on the oft repeated claim that the ISA100 specification is developed with “direct enduser participation and support”.

Hopefully the publicly available version of the specification will be posted soon on the ISA website, for public consumption. Regrettably it will probably, in reality, be available only for an exorbitant fee, via the Wireless Compliance Institute, one of the money-making commercial arms of the ISA, and probably will not encourage or enable the easier design of products meeting ISA100 by smaller companies. We should maybe remain alert and look out for a continuing closed shop.

False claims and knocking copy
The ISA release also makes comments about how their procedures have followed an “open consensus process as accredited by ANSI”. This claim is covered and dismissed very effectively by Walt Boyes in his weblog for September 16.

Boyes also highlights the traditional ISA slap made in their press release against the WirelessHART standard, which was accepted as an IEC Standard, IEC62591, over 18 months ago. ISA says “Unlike non-accredited processes typically used by vendors’ consortia to develop specifications, ISA’s [claimed as] ‘ANSI approved’ procedures call for direct participation and voting by experts from end-user companies”. Boyes asks how long the ISA is going to “continue flogging this really dead horse”, which does appear to reflect poorly back on the ISA themselves. But there is a more general comment to be made: how long is the vendor and user community expected to wait for these venerated, very slow moving standards committees to catch up with the faster strides of technology? The ISA is three years late.

Satisfying market demands
In that time, the dynamic engineers and marketing people in the vendors, using the market knowledge gained from customers, i.e. end-users, have developed the products that these users wanted, and to a standard that works
in practice, WirelessHART. The experts in the enduser companies have participated, and voted, by investing in testing these WirelessHART products and systems, and then installing them in ever-increasing numbers. Not only is WirelessHART an IEC standard, it is the de facto market standard. ISA100 has to do something positive to gain more than their existing toehold it has in this market, rather than keeping on talking about what happened years ago. A PAS is only the first step, and a very small step, forward. It is time for the ISA to look to the future, and that future might well have been in a back-haul standard. But maybe that is now too late.

Postscript:
The ISA saga continues on the Walt Boyes SoundOff blog, where Walt continues to try to present his logical reasoned views, while not being allowed to quote the critcs from the ISA directly.
Any similar communications or corrections to the INSIDER viewpoint will be published, as they happen, on the INSIDER blog,


ISA – a new momentum!

04/07/2011

ISA Executive Committee Members

Many of our followers, friends, contacts and miscellaneous others may have spotted that we travelled to the Gateway City of St Louis on the banks of the Mississippi during the last weekend of June where we attended the annual Summer Leaders’ Meeting (SLM) of the International Society of Instrumentation (ISA). This was an extremely interesting meeting attended by leaders of the society from across the planet, North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
(The only person to pick up our Freudian slip here was Nick Denbow in his August issue on Industrial Automation Insider, the name of the organisation is of course the International Society of Automation! – apologies for this senior moment – EÓR 3/8/2011)

ISA has had an at best an indifferent and doubtful press in the past few years. It was felt, and this was fairly widely publicised, to have “lost touch” with its natural community, the automation community. In addition it had suffered badly in the recession. After a period when it led the world in the use of the new electronic tools, email and internet in the early and mid 1990s it seemed to have rested on its oars for the first five or six years of the new century. The social media phenomenon seemed to have passed the organisation by. It had some changes in management with three Executive Directors in a short period of time, which can’t have helped either. Then the unforseen depression/recession struck deeply and suddenly a number of these and other shortcomings became apparent.

The reactions of leaders to this crisis was not uncommon in many organisations.

Some hide their heads in the sand like ostriches, “This depression will go away and things will return to ‘normal!'” or “We’ve always done things like this in the past and it served us well!”

Others, with varying degrees of radicalism, spotted that there were a number of things happening here, not all of which had anything to do with the financials. The ISA’s web presence for instance was firmly stuck in “Web 1!” It was a “read-only” service while the web itself became and continues to become more and more interactive. Others pointed out that operation of the “market” which ISA was supposed to serve had changed. Instead of accepting products and information sent to them customers became much more selective and only accepted what they were interested in receiving. Users were telling each other what was available, i.e. networking. In automation this was the forte of ISA and here it was happening and ISA was not there. Because ISA was not “out there” in this new milieu it was felt that the membership started to fall. Members were not renewing in the same numbers and new members, especially the new young automation professionals (YAPs) did not seem to be adding their enthusiasm and verve to the organisation. They would by and large agree with the expression quoted by Seth Godin in his little book, Meatball Sundae, “….we don’t have to just change our website – we are going to have to change everything about our organisation. our mission, our structure, our decision making…”

Encouragement at start of meeting

Yet there are inherent strengths in the organisation not least in the society volunteers and staff who continue to work passionately for the society and for the profession. Sometimes, as is natural, the two viewpoints (“head in sand” versus “change everything!”) clashed or misinterpreted each other. This can lead to suspicion, lack of co-operation and eventually disintegration of any organisation.

The last two years were a worrying time for the society. A few task forces were set up to see what could be done. Many sighed “not another task force!”  However it appears that these task forces, which reported real progress at this meeting, are actually doing something to address the miriad of challenges that face a volunteer organisation in the early 21st century.

These bodies looked at streamlining the governance of the Society, which has remained fundamentally unchanged for over sixty years and a second is aimed at reorganising the web presence of the society, making it more visible as the true voice of the Automation Professional throughout the world. Yet a third stream examined the membership, the type of membership and how this could be expanded to make it a more representative body of the world of automation and the people who populate it.

The interim reports presented by the governance committee and by that on membership lookes very promising, indeed radical in places, promising a complete change in the way the society is run, from the election of officers – it is proposed that they be directly elected by the members – to managing the ongoing attitude to change and including an Audit Committee. Changes too are mooted in the types of membership and how they are defined as well as a new system of honouring automation professionals both for services to the Society and for services to Automation as a discipline or profession.

The Web and Social Media however is the area where concrete visible advances were made with the launch of a new interactive site called ISA Interchange. This is an “online source of automation news and technical content.” The idea of this initiative is “to post content that starts conversations between automation professionals.” It may also be said to be the start of a complete overhaul of the existing ISA website a consumation for which many members and non-members devoutly wish!

It is hoped that these developments may be advanced far enough to provide the society delegates with sufficient information to take at least some of the necessary decisions  in October.

While all this discussion was going on throughout the weekend the usual business of the society was progressing. Standards were furthered, Divisions discussed progress in their own particular fields, modern education and training courses in automation were developed and methods of promoting automation research and publishing results were examined. Automation professionals were selected as 2011 Honourees to be presented at Automation Week’s great Gala Event in the Autumn.

The nomination committee sat in solumn conclave with representatives for each district meeting and discussing the merits of those willing to place their names before the society delegates at the Autumn meeting – Fall Leaders’ Meeting (FLM) – preceeding this year’s Automation Week in Mobile (Al USA). They selected the following nominees:

President Elect Secretary: Terry Ives (Ives Equipment Company, Pennsylvania)

Nominated for office!

DiPietro

Ford

Strategic Planning Vice President-elect: Jon DiPietro (Domesticating IT, New Hampshire – pictured)

Image & Membership VP-elect: Dean Ford (Wunderlich-Malec, Maryland – pictured)

Automation & Technology Department Vice President-elect:  Stephen Allison (Oak Ridge National Lab, Tennessee)

Industries & Sciences Department Vice President-elect:  Alex Habib (Consultant, New Jersey)

Professional Development Department Vice President-elect: Jacob Jackson (Assurity Design Group, Georgia)

All in all leaders left St Louis with a feeling that things were on the up and looking forward to the next leader’s meeting in Alabama. “Excellent meetings” said one leader, “Feels like a new society when compared with 2009,” said another, while a third said, “I now believe that things are moving positively again!” ISA President Leo Staples expressed himself more than pleased when he remarked: “The SLM  clearly gave a new momentum to ISA!”

Hopefully they are right!

Some pictures from the event may be found on the Read-out Pica Site and also on Jim Keaveney’s Facebook Site.

Wireless committees get their wires crossed

08/03/2010

By Andrew Bond, Industrial Automation Insider
See links to other reports at bottom of page!

The long running saga of the ISA 100.11a wireless standard took a further intriguing turn in Orlando, Florida last month when a number of related sub-committees met alongside the ARC forum. Perhaps the most significant meeting was that considering the results of the “Nice Use Case Analysis Project”, so called because it originated at a meeting in Nice, France in 2008 (pleasant places these meetings have to be held in!).

  • Concerns over security remain the number one barrier to the adoption of wireless solutions in industry, according to the results of the first end-user survey to be conducted by WINA, the Wireless Industrial Networking Alliance. Half of survey participants who had not yet implemented wireless believed that wireless solutions were less secure than wired. However users in industries with more experience of the technology such as oil and gas most frequently perceived wireless to be as secure as or even more secure than wired devices.Presenting the results during the recent ARC forum in Orlando, WINA president Steve Toteda noted that “Heavy industry moves slowly, but very methodically. The growth of wireless devices from the current average of 5% to that of between 20 and 30% in five years represents a staggering advance for wireless.” But he added that “… the industry as a whole has failed to adequately address the misconception that wireless security is not as effective as hard wired – the truth is wireless is far more secure because of the use of strong encryption technology and network controls that eliminate unauhorized devices on the network.” That present rates of growth are set to continue or even accelerate is indicated by a fifth of respondents to the survey expecting wireless devices to make up 30% of their field devices by 2015, and another fifth believing that they will account for 20% or more within the same time frame.With 55% of respondents indicating that they were not influenced by brand names in selecting wireless devices, Toteda argued that future purchase decisions would not depend on brands already installed on site, suggesting that opportunities exist both for existing vendors to gain market share and for new entrants to make an impact.
  • Cooper Wireless, which brings together Cooper’s Canadian acquisition Omnex Controls and Elpro Technologies, the Australian company acquired by MTL in 2008, had its first public outing in Orlando, making a busy week for WINA president Steve Toteda who was recently appointed VP and general manager of the newly created Cooper Bussmann business unit (INSIDER, January 2010, page 3). “The merging of these brands allows us to provide our customers with increasngly comprehensive, highly-specified solutions for improving productivity and safety in demanding industrial and mobile control applications around the world,” he explained.
    Omnex, an early adopter of Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology, claims to have become the leading supplier of robust, ‘never-fail’ remote controls for the shipping, concrete pumping and placement and mobile boom sectors and has migrated its Trusted Wireless technology into industrial I/O and networking for fixed plant and field environments. The result is enterprise-wide wireless infrastructure solutions for water and waste water treatment, oil and gas extraction and refining and process manufacturing.
  • Missing elements
    Funded by Shell Global Solutions, the  analysis considered just one use case – that of a temperature transmitter sensing sea temperature and displaying it ashore – and only looked at about a third of the complete ISA 100.11a specification. Nevertheless it is understood to have come up with more than a dozen elements of the standard which were either missing, didn’t work or conflicted with other elements.

    What’s so interesting about these findings, apart from the suggestion that the standard, as approved in August of 2009, is incomplete and potentially unworkable, is that they relate back directly to issues raise by the appeal against its ratification made by, among others, Walt Boyes of CONTROL magazine, Sicco Dwars of Shell Global Solutions and Frederick Enns of Dust Networks. That is hardly surprising, perhaps, as no doubt supporters of the standard will be quick to  point out, since Dwars was apparently responsible for initiating the Nice use case project and Enns was one of those involved in conducting the analysis and made the presentation on it at the Orlando meeting. Readers will recall that it was rejection of that appeal by ISA on the grounds that it was submitted after the deadline which led to the failure of the America National Standards Institute (ANSI) to accept the standard at its November 2009 meeting (INSIDER, January 2010, page 5). Supporters of that appeal are now arguing that the Nice use case analysis confirms what they had been arguing all along, namely that by failing to follow their own procedures correctly when assessing technical comments on the standard prior to its final ratification they allowed previously identified deficiencies and inconsistencies to remain in the final document.

    Face saving
    Ironically, however, these latest developments look as if they may provide ISA with a face saving solution to the dilemma posed by ANSI’s insistence that the appeal be heard. While nobody is going to admit that there is anything wrong with the existing version of the standard, the word on the Orlando street is that ISA 100.11a will undergo “maintenance” over the coming months to render it “more robust” and that the resultant revised document will then be put out to ballot in time for it to be released in the early autumn, ideally at the new ISA Automation Week event in Houston in October. The beauty of this solution is that, while it tacitly overcomes the original objections, it obviates the need to hear the appeal since it will be a new, rather than the original, document which will eventually be submitted to ANSI and which should therefore meet with that body’s unqualified approval – assuming, of course, that ISA manages to follow its own procedures correctly this time around.

    Meanwhile, also meeting at Orlando was ISA 100.12, the sub-committee charged with finding a way to converge ISA 100.11a with WirelessHART. Logically one would expect that any sign of further delay in finalizing the ISA standard, which can only increase WirelessHART’s already substantial lead, would encourage efforts to accelerate the convergence project, not least because, as Gary Mintchell of Automation World reported in his own ‘Feed Forward’ blog, “…a panel of practitioners at one session at the ARC Forum uniformly pleaded for a single wireless standard.”

    Mintchell’s own assessment of the current state of the convergence project is blunt in the extreme. “… attempts to rationalize the differences between the two standards appear to be dead,” he says. And he’s not alone in pointing out that while the HART Foundation has been repeatedly criticized for being a ‘pay-to-play’ supplier consortium, dominated as many believe, or at least find it convenient to suggest, by a single supplier, Emerson, the ISA’s own wireless activities, which purport to be user driven, are in fact increasingly being identified with Honeywell and the chip supplier Nivis.

    If all that’s giving you a feeling of déjà vu, it’s probably because you’re being reminded of such alleged but largely spurious past red herrings as Rockwell – DeviceNet, Siemens – Profibus and Emerson – Foundation fieldbus or even, if your memory stretches back far enough, IBM – Token Ring and Xerox/DEC- Ethernet!

    The above articles appeared in the March 2010 issue of Industrial Automation Insider (IAI) and are reproduced by kind permission of the author.

    Some other links which may interest readers of this article!

    Automation.com: Industrial Wireless – not ready for prime time? – (Bill Lydon, Editor InTech, reports on the Industrial Wireless Standards Session)

    Control Engineering: Wireless interoperability? What is that? (Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander)

    ARC World Industry Forum: Where Industry Leaders Meet to Solve Their Most Challenging Issues (8/11 Feb 2010)
    End Users Plead for a Single Wireless Standard at ARC Orlando Forum ARC clients may view this report by Harry Forbes (11 Mar 2010)

    ISA100 Wireless Complience Institute – Industry leaders from major manufacturing and automation control system users and suppliers have formed an organization to establish essential specifications and processes to be used in the testing and certification of wireless products and systems for the ISA100 family of wireless standards.

    See also the box entitled Table 2 Discussion on our item Conquering Complexity (January 2010) which talks about WirelessHart and Emerson and the Wireless Standard!

    Highlights from the ARC 2010 Orlando Forum General Session by Paul Millar and Dick Hill (ARC Advisory Grp 12 Feb) This has a pdf downloadable report. It is available as a html page from Automation.com

    Managing Automation: Collaboration, Security are focus at ARC Forum (Stephanie Neil)

    Automation World: Gary Mintchell Video Report – 2010 ARC Forum (you’ll have to log in!)

    Packaging World: Editor Pat Reynolds talks about controls, automation, sustainability, and cyber security with South African Breweries controls engineer Garth Basson. (you’ll have to log in!).
    Operational excellence a strong draw to ARC Forum (Pat Reynolds Editor in Chief)


    Social networking works! A true story!

    04/02/2010

    So what good is all this social media stuff anyway? It’s a waste of time! All these nerds hunched up over their laptops or iPhones – cometh the iPad?

    Everybody can talk to everybody else! (Pic: google code)


    Andrew Bond in Industrial Automation Insider comments (February Issue):
    Can automation vendors afford to ignore the marketing potential of the ever burgeoning range of social networking tools now available? Almost certainly not, as  Readout editor Eoin Ó Riain’s recent experience demonstrates. He, along with INSIDER, was recently contacted by a mutual acquaintance – he’d better remain anonymous, at least for the time being – who had been asked to develop a small SCADA package for a wind turbine and wanted to pick our respective brains for
    suggestions. We responded in the normal way with a few pointers but Eoin put out a call to the Automation Linked In Group as well as flagging up the request on Twitter and on his own blog.

    The result, in less than a week, was approaching a dozen replies suggesting a range of potential solutions. Impressive in itself but what is perhaps most significant is that very few were either from or suggested any of the major vendors, despite the fact that Eoin had mentioned that our
    enquirer was minded to use one of them.

    You can’t help feeling that people are missing out here or, as Eoin put it when we mentioned it, “Maybe they are not social media aware!”

    OK fair enough! I’ve been using twitter for around 8 months, and the same with Facebook. LinkedIn also for a while but we can’t say we have warmed to that as much as to the other two. (Though it is becoming more sensitive to user requirements as this development, “Reorder the Sections on Your LinkedIn Profile”  just announced shows!) And then we’re in a few NING sites.

    We’ve given one or two thoughts on how we are finding things and progressing during that time. Social Media in July,  and then in November comes “Six months on”  as a sort of “how are we doing” report.

    We have also published a few articles which although not specifically on social networking showed how it could, and was used in our business. Reports like Social media writes articles! or the reports on various user group meetings (especially memorable was the 2009 Emerson one partly because it was the first time we  really felt a participant in an event staged in Atlantic lapped Florida while still sitting and looking west thousands of miles across the same Atlantic lapping at the mouth of Galway Bay!) Finally we discovered a guy called Seth Godin whose little book gives a good idea as to what is happening here in Is your marketing out of synch?.

    Today we give a small example of what this new thing can do.

    In the last week of January an acquaintance asked us for some help. He also asked Andrew Bond of Industrial Automation Insider who commented in the February issue! (See box). We wrote about it on the blog as SCADA help requested! . And tweeted and “facebooked” this blog.

    The same request was placed as a discussion on the LinkedIn group called Automation Engineers (5,510 members) with the title “SCADA for wind turbines!”

    Within a few days we had eight (8) responses on the LinkedIn Site. We also had two private responses in the and there were four responses to the blog. In all there were fourteen responses, most of which were from people we had not heard of and would not have heard of but for using these platforms.

    The quality of responses varied of course form straightforward plugging of a product (though surprisingly little) to the sharing of genuine user experience.

    As said at the outset we have been extolling the virtues of social networking but had not used it in this way before and the thing that surprised us was the speed in which these responses came in. Hopefully some of them were helpful to our friend, they certainly gave much food for thought.

    What would we have done before? Probably pawned off a general and unhelpful response wrapped in sympathetic language. But now we know, from experience, that if somebody come with a problem we have a whole world out there with people listening out for the call.

    What is your social networking experience?