Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top 5 Automation Applications Your Business Can’t Live Without

There’s a plethora of industrial software applications now available from a variety of vendors, both small, point-solutions based companies to the larger, all-in-one industrial automation vendors.  They offer everything from development environments through IT solutions.  But if you look at your critical needs, it comes down to using 5 applications:

MESA International Offers New White Paper on Best Practices D=NzgwMDkzOTQ1OQS2&spJobID=76821257&spReportId=NzY4MjEyNTcS1

Invensys is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of MESA International.  MESA recently released an important new white paper on Best Practices for Manufacturing Operations.  MESA's White Paper Series (it's over 40 distinct papers now) feature collaboration from industry-leading participants in Manufacturing Solutions, and are a unique opportunity to get insight from hundreds of years of experience from these members.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Events From MESA International

Invensys is a proud Platinum Sponsor of MESA International, the singular knowledge source for all manufacturing solutions.  This link brings you to a number of offerings, from training through events, that help you to build out your industry and manufacturing solutions capabilities.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Cloud And Manufacturing

Repost: Device Shipments Up 6% To 2.4B In 2013, Driven By Android Smartphones, Tablets Amid More PC Decline

If we as an industry aren't paying attention to the tremendous growth seen in the mobile device market, we'll miss one of the most important platform changes since the PC took hold.

In 2013, over 2.3 billion units are anticipated to be shipped.  By 2014, Gartner projects over 2.5 billion units--that's equal to 32% of the world's population!  Mobile access to data has now become part of our everyday life--from shopping to entertainment to work tasks.  The blending of our private and public lives centers on these devices that travel with us 24 x 7.

From an industrial software perspective, it's exciting and challenging. New formats mean reaching new customers, that may not have the legacy associated with PC-based systems.  So it gives us a chance to provide richer, more graphical applications.  The challenge, of course, is that it requires new products, to take advantage of the form factor and expected performance in a mobile device--intuitive, report-ready, simple to operate.

We've already seen startups such as Sarla (SmartGlance) and Transpara offering mobile device-enabled reporting.  But there's so much more!  MES, EMI,  HMI, the list goes on--all are using mobile as an important form factor to reach the increasingly mobile worker. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Repost: Put Customers at the Center of Your Organization

This is a good article from HP's Meg Whitman, current CEO and co-founder of EBAY.  It seems like it should be common sense--listen to your customers to understand what their needs are, where you falter, and where you can take advantage of market momentum. 

I've recently started to take a closer look at my messaging from a customer perspective.  Am I really providing the "key care abouts" for products such as Wonderware MES, Intelligence, and Workflow?  I'd like to get your feedback--am I missing something important?  You can email me at  Thanks!

Microsoft: SMB Views on the Cloud Vary Widely

Invensys has been working with Microsoft since February 2012 to build industrial-grade reporting, analysis and collaboration products that can be hosted on the cloud.  Since that time, what we've learned is that companies aren't adverse to a cloud-hosted solution, but want to be sure that their internal security policies are adhered to, and the products in that form factor bring more benefits than if they'd be traditionally hosted on an on-site server.

This study, funded by Microsoft, explores some of the issues that small and medium sized businesses are grappling with when going to the cloud.  At the onset, these companies are likely to be the ones benefitting from the "no touch" hosting and self-service environment, but there are lingering concerns about safety that must be addressed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

ISA-88: Better Batches Every Time | Automation World

ISA-88: Better Batches Every Time | Automation World

Invensys' Michael Schwarz, product marketing manager, Batch and MES, weighs in on the benefits of using ISA-88 modeling for more effective batch management and execution.

Emerge a Winner in the Refining Industry - Whitepaper Preview

Emerge a Winner in the Refining Industry - Whitepaper Preview

a sneak preview of an excellent white paper directed at refiners!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Intelligent Enterprise

The Intelligent Enterprise
The second part on this series on the Need for an Intelligent Enterprise
by Cronin Almeida, Invensys
In evolution, the lack of intelligence has lead to extinction.  The same applies to Industrial enterprises these days. Intelligence is necessary for organizations to compete, stay lean, employ best practices and stay relevant to changing market conditions. Digital and physical infrastructure in the manufacturing and process domains are converging.  Computational power is being used in places unheard of. Organizations all over are becoming digitally aware and networked.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Trends in Outsourcing by Big Pharma

Whether it's for pharmaceutical drugs, or consumer packaged goods, outsourcing is now commonplace for manufacturers. This study referenced shows the expected behaviors of the pharmaceutical "giants" to use outsourcing for the next year.  What's interesting to me is the very, very slight uptick--you might even attribute it to a sampling error--in the use of outsourcing for 2013/14.  Could it be that the benefits expected aren't there?  Or that it's just easier to regain those internal competencies?  In any case, this study doesn't, in my opinion, show a strong, sustainable drive for outsourcing for this industry in the future.

Repost: Pulse report: New Opportunities Emerge as Consumers Focus on Value

This report is interesting for a number of reasons.  One, because it clearly shows the differences in age groups, and the way in which they search for information and make buying decisions.  Secondly, because it does have relevance to other industries besides retail.

If we look at our typical industrial buyer, it is very similar to storytelling, in that preferences are handed down to generations, and oftentimes, the decision to buy or upgrade is based on past lore and experience.  We don't often see plants making sweeping decisions to replace their software or hardware, unless a defining event occurs, such as obsolescence (hello, XP!) or a step change in new technology (cloud, big data, mobile).  And even then, the vendors that these users are familiar and comfortable with normally get the first look, even if they are not best in class or even on par with the market.

So what can we do to change this habit?  Educate through the channels that they use.  And that's why this study is so interesting--because it provides us insight into the new buying habits.

If Content is King, What Would be Queen?

I was drawn to this post because first, I am the self-appointed Queen of MES, but secondly, because we all work very hard to ensure our posts are relevant, timely, and most importantly, read!
This article brings out some very fundamental issues about ensuring you get the audience you deserve for the posts you write.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

9 Ways To Stay Scrappy In Business

Those of us who started out in small companies, or who may have worked for a start up during the boom of the 2000's, can fully understand the need to do more with less.  But how about those that work for well-funded, complex companies?  Can we benefit from the "can do" attitude of a smaller firm? 

This subject is well covered within a Forbes article. Read on:

Mobility Making Waves in Manufacturing

Aberdeen rightly identifies that mobility is making a huge impact in manufacturing.  We've seen it, and we've reported on it (today as a matter of fact).  The ability to push data to a familiar device, have it dedicated to a specific task, and have it optimized for a specific form factor, is powerful.  You can access their report using this link: Mobility Making Waves in Manufacturing

Invensys Purchases SmartGlance as Further Reinforcement of Mobile Strategy

United States of Wireless Infographic | Mobile Future

Mobile technology has become commonplace for the world, and certainly, from an industrial perspective, the pushback on using personally-owned mobile devices to view plant data has diminished, if not disappeared.  This is great from a user perspective, for as more vendors provide applications for mobile, the richer the user experience will become.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What Product Marketing Managers Really Do

What Product Marketing Managers Really Do

this is a pretty funny post that captures what product managers do and do not about at your company?  do you see the same?

Nine Ways to Avoid Project Meltdown

common-sense list of ways to increase project satisfaction, and positive outcomes, avoiding pitfalls.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Repost, with comments: Why Mentorship is the gift that keeps giving

I couldn't agree more with the author of this article.  I have acted as an informal mentor over the years.  It is extremely gratifying, and rewarding, to see your mentees grow, thrive, and succeed as a result of coaching, advise and guidance. 

Campbell Soup's Data Acquisition Journey

Tom Braydich, Campbell's director of controls and maintenance systems engineering, shared a success story on worker empowerment during the Automation Conference in May.

In addition to an OEE application, they are using Wonderware IntelaTrac to enable mobile workers to be more productive. “We wanted production operators to be more involved with what’s happening on the plant floor and let maintenance people do more demanding tasks,” said Braydich.  

IntelaTrac, normally found in heavy industries (oil and gas, chemical) for its ruggedized, hardened devices and ability to enforce work tasks within harsh environments, is equally at home in plants where the mobile task management needs to be enforced.

Follow this link to read the entire story:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Repost, with comments: EPA Survey Shows $384B Needed For Drinking Water Infrastructure By 2030

This is a sobering report on the amount of infrastructure funding that must occur to ensure a continuous supply of clean water.

Repost: Hey You, Get Off of My Cloud: CIO Concerns with Cloud ERP Systems

IT Toolbox conducted a web study of CIO's to understand their proclivity for purchasing cloud-based ERP systems.  For me, the findings were somewhat surprising, for it indicates that there is still uncertainty and doubt that a cloud-based ERP will provide the stable platform and confidence in performance that you'd get from an on-premise system.

But I think it goes beyond that.  There are 3 manifestations of the cloud that can be used for hosting an application: public cloud (like Amazon), private cloud (like an ASP/Application Solution Provider) or hybrid cloud (mix of the two).  The concerns of the CIO's in this instance seem to be fixated on the downsides of a public cloud.  This makes sense, because a public cloud normally has multiple tenancy (ie, more than one entity using it at any time) and so you must deal with bandwidth, uptime, and oftentimes, security.  But a private cloud avoids all of those pitfalls.  So for me, it's a matter of education.

The cloud does not equal the internet.  It is infrastructure, software, and platform.  And there are multiple ways of addressing to ensure that uptime, security, and reliability are not in question.  It's no different than having a bank of servers in your facility.  Sometimes, things happen...

Invensys has been working with Microsoft now for almost a year to bring cloud-based industrial solutions to market: reporting, storage and analysis.  So it's interesting that the hesitancy we heard from customers a year ago still exists.  Hopefully, with continuing education, customer successes, and economic benefits, we won't have the same discussions in another year!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ISA-88: Better Batches Every Time | Automation World

ISA-88: Better Batches Every Time | Automation World

Invensys' Michael Schwarz weighs in on batch recipe management; Baxter discusses their use of Wonderware InBatch for recipe and materials control.

Repost: Cloud-Based Analytics Market to top $16.52B by 2018

We've always suspected that the cloud would bring both economic and performance improvements to users.  Invensys has been in the forefront of educating and bringing cloud-based apps to industry.  This new study by MarketandMarkets projects explosive growth in cloud-based analytics as the benefits of lower cost, faster time to value access to applications is adopted.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Repost: Can Manufacturing Push Past Uncertainty?

This article by Industry Week explores the slow reound of US manufacturing. Although some segments have started to rebound, net re-employment still is not sustaining.....

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why the Food and Beverage Industry Depends On Automation to Help Them Reach Their Goals

by Michael Schwarz, MES/EMI Product Marketing Manager, Invensys

The Food and Beverage industries have been always on the forefront of technology,  with investments in automation of processes to secure profitability on high volume and low margin products.
Today, the race is on in squeezing the maximum capacity from production lines, to streamline any process, to reduce any loss in product, quality and all used resources and to streamline any process gain with superior connectivity to all automation systems. Food and Beverage industries have to satisfy the requirements of food safety regulations which requires to document product and processes and define and prepare corrective actions, What is mostly considered as additional cost is at the same time a foundation to optimize cost and reduce losses as well protect brand equity.

Production Operations: Food Processors Must Balance High Throughput With Demand For Fast Changeovers And Flexible Production

Production Operations: Food Processors Must Balance High Throughput With Demand For Fast Changeovers And Flexible Production

Invensys' Bill Schiel provides insight into achieving flexible operations.

Where Have All the Women Gone?

I am taking liberties with the old folk song written by Pete Seeger (Where Have All the Flowers Gone). I was inspired to write this post after talking with a female colleague of mine about the dearth of women in the wonderful world of industrial automation.

I myself have been in the industry for, let's just say, a few decades. I remember one conference I went to for industrial optics--there were 400 men, and me.  Similarily over the years, the percentages have been consistently tipped.  Now the good part is that I've never, ever had any prejudice from my male colleagues.  I've always been treated with respect.  But the bigger issue is, why aren't women coming into industrial automation, or for that matter, industry at all?

Wellness Foods: Many New Botanicals Being Explored For Their Potential In Helping To Maintain Gut Health

Wellness Foods: Many New Botanicals Being Explored For Their Potential In Helping To Maintain Gut Health

An interesting article that educates on the health benefits of commonly-available ingredients and foods. It's the "lazy man's" way of helping yourself!

Repost: Operation Intelligence(Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence) vs Business Intelligence (BI) the Difference and it are the time it be recognized!

Operation Intelligence(Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence) vs Business Intelligence (BI) the Difference and it are the time it be recognized!

Repost: Invensys Joins New Smart Cities Council as Associate Partner

Invensys Joins New Smart Cities Council as Associate Partner

How Concurrent Software Licensing Can Benefit EMI Users

Wonderware Intelligence is an EMI (Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence) software application that provides a rich dashboard based on Key Performance Indicators. These KPI's are generated by real-time data coming from a historian, or other plant or business system.  Users can access Intelligence (or other EMI product) via concurrent (non-named) or named user licensing.  I was interviewed by Renee Bassett of Automation World to discuss the differences in these two models.  Follow this link to understand why you should care:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Repost: With a Note of Caution, CFO Expectations Rise

CFOs do not see a strong case for substantial improvement in the broader economy anytime soon.

This is an interesting article from a CFO perspective.  We in the automation industry rarely interact with CFO's on a regular basis--normally, when there are large, multi-plant opportunities a CFO would be part of the decision process.

So to get this "insider's view" of what a company's financial drivers are, and what their expectations are for the near future, are especially important and useful.

Podcast: Purdue Prof Digs Berkeley Prof’s Message about the Cloud | Automation World

Podcast: Purdue Prof Digs Berkeley Prof’s Message about the Cloud | Automation World

The Automation Conference, held last month in Chicago, was all about advanced technologies to help manufacturers make better products, respond to customer and market demands, and prepare for the next wave of applications.  Invensys showed their premier cloud-based, smart device enabled analytics product, SmartGlance, as presented by General Mills' Joe Sanguinetti. This podcast gives further credence to a cloud-based manufacturing environment.

Just Released: Wonderware Mobile Reporting Connector for SmartGlance

Wonderware Mobile Reporting Connector for SmartGlance

Updated software improves ease of use and configuration

Wonderware is pleased to announce a new Mobile Reporting Connector for its popular smart device-enabled reporting application, SmartGlance.  New features include enhanced security, such as SSO (Single Sign On), enriched reporting, and an expanded feature set for better ease of use.

The entire press release can be found here:

SPC for the Real World | Automation World

SPC for the Real World | Automation World

A good interview by John Clemons of Maverick Technologies on the need for SPC for manufacturing.  As costs, time, and market pressures come to bear, SPC is a foundational technology to help manufacturers understand behavior and trends of their manufacturing process.  Most automation providers offer some type of SPC functionality, whether it is within their HMI (like Wonderware InTouch) or as a standalone Quality application (like Wonderware MES/Quality).  But whether it's solo, or as part of a suite, it's a critical component that ensures proactive quality management.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Total CEO Sees More European Refineries Closing in Coming Years
Perhaps as an indication of a still-softened European economy, story on more refineries being shut down.

Energy management: crunching the numbers

Energy management: crunching the numbers | 2013-05-10 | Food Engineering
Energy Management, as covered by Invensys VP of Solutions Niels Andersen, is a concern not only from a sustainability perspective, but from a cost management perspective for food companies. This article, originally published in Food Engineering, talks about measures companies can put in place to understand, and measure, actual consumption and loss.

Monday, June 3, 2013

ArchestrA Workflow Training from Wonderware Midwest

ArchestrA Workflow is industrial-strength BPM (Business Process Management) software that enables collaboration, standardization of processes, and stronger adherence to corporate policies.
Wonderware Midwest is offering two free training events, June 4th in Brookfield, WI and June 6th in Minnetonka, MN.

To register, simply Email

Top-selling new products of 2012: IRI Reveals Annual New Product Pacesetters

Top-selling new products of 2012: IRI Reveals Annual New Product Pacesetters

So what are people eating, buying, consuming?  An interesting report on the current habit of consumers.  From an automation perspective, it gives us the perspective on which companies will have increased demand, which may need to have systems to help them with yields, consistent quality, brand management....

Barriers to Human Reliability | Automation World

Barriers to Human Reliability | Automation World

Invensys' Mike Caliel shares his thoughts on gaining human reliability...