Ginny Burnell, new President of Invensys Process Systems, North America, welcomed the users to the event. Unlike most other events of its type, the general session was held theater style, in seats with no tables, so no writing was expected…and those of us who had to take notes, used our scratchpads on our knees. Burnell pointed out that three weeks ago, the place we were in was a refugee center, and they didn’t know for at least a week after that that the meeting was actually going to be on.
She proudly announced a registration of 850 (but didn’t break it out by Invensys users, Invensys employees, and others).
Dick Hill, from ARC, gave a talk on trends, in which he wished us, “May you always live in interesting times.”
Dick pointed out that capacity utilization in the US is rising above the 80% mark, the mark at which new capital projects and expansions get started, while the EU’s is lowering to the 80% mark. China and India are the fastest growing, but that Latin America, especially Brazil and Venezuela, are increasing exports at the 17% rate, mostly to China.
He showed a pie chart that showed that over 52% of automation business is still in modernization, or brownfield plants. This echoes what Dinesh Paliwal, of ABB has been saying since he took over the job. But he pointed out that 50 new plants were being built in China, with only 1 new plant in the US (in Pascagoula MS, in fact, and its fate is now uncertain).
The trends he sees are:
complex supply chains
complex global competition
and the challenge is to perform on a global scale.
No ARC employee is ever allowed out of Boston without a whole bag of TLAs (three letter acronyms) and Dick isn’t an exception. He started with CMM, which, in ARC-speak, stands for Collaborative Manufacturing Management. This means, he said, that each process plant “needs to operate like a node in the value chain. Business systems and production systems must work together in coordinated control.”
He pointed to the ever-present and often-discussed GAP (or what I call “the DMZ”) between the Process Control World and the Business Planning/Supply Network World. He said that this must be filled with another TLA, this time MOM. MOM, not standing for motherhood, stands for Manufacturing Operations Management.
He noted that, as we’ve pointed out for years in CONTROL magazine, the information and control systems are becoming flatter, less hierarchical. Where there used to be multiple tiers, there are now only one or two. I happened to be sitting with a member of the User Group Steering Committee (who asked for anonymity) who pointed out that his company was going back to three tiers: Business, Production Scheduling and Process, in an effort to handle security issues. What this will do to the flattening effect is undetermined, but is an issue.
Hill also noted gleefully that users are finally paying more attention to standards, and so is ARC.
There are over $65 billion in legacy systems installed, Hill remarked, and the issue, he said, “is what to do with this legacy stuff. Can it interoperate? Can it be secure?”
Hill then managed a short tutorial on ROA (return on assets) showing the divide between the Manufacturing view and the Accounting view of how to determine return, and said that the TLA that would fix all these things was RPM (realtime performance management). “Every worker needs to see what is going on…” he said, and “we need to empower people as knowledge workers.”
How to do these things, of course, is left as an exercise for the reader.
Now please understand, I agree with everything Dick Hill said. What I want ARC to do is to start telling people exactly how to move from being thought leaders to being action leaders.