Leadership in Automation

Feb. 1, 2011
I write often about leadership and automation. Automation World has taken me up on the phrase and put together a program by which our readers have an opportunity to vote for companies that they think are leaders in this industry.

You can visit www.automationworld.com/leadership and place your vote for companies that you feel are deserving of recognition as leaders and innovators in the field. The companies participating are profiled in a special section beginning on page 48. I’m told that there’s a phrase in Chicago that goes, “Vote early; vote often.” You can vote early, but you’ll be limited to one vote per category.

Last month, we ran two feature articles about the current state of innovation in technology and business processes in the part of the industry that we cover. I went to the people who guide technology development for the companies who supply technology to you. We also asked you what you are doing and what you’d like to see. There was more information than I could squeeze into the articles. This month, I follow up with two additional pieces in the Perspective section.

Two things interested me beyond technology and practice. One was the impact of technology on business processes. Automation of business process is the next frontier for improving manufacturing, so I was curious what these thinkers see coming. The other thing that interests me is the impact of changing technology and business processes on engineers entering the field. What will they need to study? Will their work life be different? You can find these articles in Perspective beginning on page 11.

The opportunity to hear your thoughts is one of the great benefits of my job. Thanks to all who have sent opinions, thoughts and ideas in response to our last two surveys. I read them all, and the ideas influence the editorial direction of Automation World and automationworld.com. So if you see a message from me in your inbox in the next few months, please take a few minutes to respond. Even though I worked in manufacturing for a lot of years in a variety of roles, I’m always eager to hear the latest stories from the people actually doing the work.

I spend a lot of time finding relevant columnists who can share their expertise. Jim Pinto agreed to write for us beginning with our first issue in 2003. He’s still with us. And many of you write to him.  A few years ago I heard about Alan Beaulieu. He’s an economist with the Institute for Trend Research. He has also correctly called the direction of the economy over the past three years. Not bad for an economist. Don’t be shy about sending him notes, too. He appreciates the feedback.

New voices

Two new columnists join us this year. John Berra has retired after a distinguished career as an engineer, manager and industry leader. His driving force was key to the development and success of such now mainstream technologies as Hart Communication and Foundation Fieldbus. He will be writing a bi-monthly column dubbed “The Setpoint,” sharing ideas gleaned from his years in process control and management. John Southcott, co-chief executive officer of system integrator Brock Solutions, is the new chair of MESA International. He’ll begin writing the IT View column.

Do you have a story to tell about work in manufacturing? I would love to talk to you for one of our interviews. You could join many of your peers on the pages of Automation World.

It was eight years ago this month that I started working at Automation World. The work has been pure joy. And it’s better if I hear from you. You can e-mail me here at Automation World, catch me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And if you write a manufacturing or automation blog, let me know. I’ll link to you and subscribe. It’s a new world of media. I’m trying to use them all. Hope you’ll stick around for the ride.

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