People Count

While our overall theme this month is asset management, there is a definite sub-theme running through the issue—people are assets.

In fact, people are probably your most important asset. The shameful irony is that many, if not most, companies pay only lip service at best to this fact.

I took on the cover story assignment this month mostly because I wanted to research how the industry defines “asset management.” Until now, trying to figure that out had often left me puzzled. Process industry marketing people often left me with the impression that it concerned valves and transmitters. My experience in discrete manufacturing pointed toward work-in-process inventory and machinery as assets that required management.

What I discovered is that manufacturing thinkers are arguing for a broader view of assets—and asset management. Most advised looking at anything on the property that is involved with making your product as an asset. This includes people. The point is, if you are not developing your people assets, then you are sowing the seeds for your eventual failure.

Embody your ideals

With this issue, we are kicking off the third full year of publishing Automation World. With the first issue that appeared in June 2003, we have tried to embody the ideals that we preach on these pages—innovation and people. First, we wanted to bring a fresh look to this type of magazine, and with it, a fresh way of looking at the industry. We wanted to tell the stories of people in the thick of the battle to make manufacturing a profitable enterprise. And we wanted to do it in a new way.

So, it all begins with an innovative idea and people. I said “we” because Automation World has always been a team effort. It began with the hours of lively discussion among Publisher Dave Harvey, Editorial Content Director Jane Gerold and myself as we defined our mission and editorial stance. Then the most important decisions were the hiring of our core staff. Wes Iversen as Managing Editor keeps us on the straight and narrow and gets the magazine out. Mike Bedenian brought some unique experience as Art Director, and is responsible for the great appearance of the magazine. Associate Publisher Jim Powers is the new product guru. And Jenna Dunnington plays a key Web development role. We all have complementary roles to play, and we all do our part to deliver a quality product. Plus, we all have fun doing it.

This year, we’re looking for more ways to bring to you the information you need to run a profitable manufacturing enterprise. We’ll be adding an Ethernet networking focus in 2006. This will be supplemented with a series of networking Webcasts featuring experts and people who have actually done the work. Also watch for our first networking conference, planned for the fall. Further, we are participating with

Packaging World on a conference on May 24 on driving profits in packaging machinery with standards. I believe that conferences should provide ample opportunity for audience participation, so don’t come planning to sit on your chair and sleep.

I joined the ranks of bloggers a couple of years ago. This is an opportunity to share a lot of information, analysis and opinions on the state of the industry and leadership. This year, I’m adding “podcasts” to the mix. These are audio programs, available via RSS (an XML-based communication technology) that you can listen to on your computer or download to your favorite MP3 player (or iPod, hence the name). I’m sure there’s more to come.

Automation World has published several comments about the state of the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA). This month we have ISA President Ken Baker on the hot seat explaining what he's trying to do during his tenure. Well worth reading.

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