MAR-APR 2019

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Perspectives from the Editor | talk to me INTECH MARCH/APRIL 2019 7 ISA INTECH STAFF CHIEF EDITOR Bill Lydon PUBLISHER Rick Zabel PRODUCTION EDITOR Lynne Franke ART DIRECTOR Colleen Casper SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Pam King GRAPHIC DESIGNER Lisa Starck CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Charley Robinson ISA PRESIDENT Paul Gruhn, PE, CFSE PUBLICATIONS VICE PRESIDENT Victor S. Finkel, CAP EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN Steve Valdez GE Sensing Joseph S. Alford PhD, PE, CAP Eli Lilly (retired) Joao Miguel Bassa Independent Consultant Eoin Ó Riain Read-out, Ireland Guilherme Rocha Lovisi Bayer Technology Services David W. Spitzer, PE Spitzer and Boyes, LLC Dean Ford, CAP Westin Engineering David Hobart Hobart Automation Engineering Smitha Gogineni Midstream & Terminal Services James F. Tatera Tatera & Associates Manufacturing tipping points: Evolution or revolution By Bill Lydon, InTech, Chief Editor I ncreasing numbers of manufacturers are investing in transforming manufac - turing and applying Industry 4.0 and digitization to achieve top competitive positions in their industries. This was evident at the 23rd Annual Automation Research Corporation (ARC) Industry Forum in February themed "Driv- ing Digital Transformation in Industry and Cities." A significant number of users ex pressed plans and actions to transform manufacturing based on opportunities en- abled by new technology to ensure they re- main competitive. Larry Megan, PhD, direc- tor – Praxair Digital at Praxair, Inc., made an important point in his presentation that the focus is understanding your path to creat- ing more value for customers, and a major challenge is to get from the hype to reality. Users are also asking, "To achieve digi- talization, should installed industrial auto- mation be improved through evolution or revolution?" Existing suppliers promote evolution, modernizing industrial automation through incremental add-ons, rather than through core control and automation hardware at the edge. This can be an incumbent sup- plier trap if your key suppliers are out of step with the application of technology. Incremental changes can make your manu- facturing company less competitive. Should the application of installed auto- mation be continually improved or moved to newer automation technology? This dis - cussion repeatedly happens in all areas of technology, and over the years there are dif - ferent factors to consider, leading to various answers. Personally, many of us have made this value judgement when changing smart - phones or computers to be more produc- tive. Answering this question is not simple and should be based on a number of fac - tors, including the knowledge and know- how of automation professionals. Automa - tion professionals need to contribute to the management and investment discussion at their company to build winning plans. Life-cycle cost analysis can help justify new automation investments, but selection of all the factors—including the competitive manufacturing environment—is vital for a reliable prediction. This is particularly impor - tant today with many new manufacturing and production competitors throughout the world that are leveraging new technology to take market share from traditional suppliers. The competitive manufacturing landscape is changing, and new technology is enabling manufacturers to defend their competitive position or create new opportunities. History many times repeats itself; con- sider Andrew Carnegie, who is known as a successful man of business, but he was also an innovator. In a desire to make steel more cheaply and more efficiently, he suc- cessfully adopted the Bessemer process at his Homestead Steel Works plant, result- ing in greater efficiency and throughput, which contributed to major success. "My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there." —Charles Kettering, American inventor, engineer, businessman, and head of research at General Motors from 1920 to 1947 Tipping points The influx technology, combined with com- petitors applying new methods and tech- nologies, is driving us to a manufacturing industry tipping point. A tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible develop- ment. The shifts from stand-alone control- lers to PID to DCS and relays to PLCs drove industry to tipping points. Challenge I think in this environment a key question to explore is, if you apply superior applica- tion and project engineering to existing in- dustrial automation, can you surpass your competitors that will be deploying newer and superior technology? n

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