To address the critical need among manufacturing companies worldwide to improve their bottom-line results an educational track at ISA Automation Week 2013 (Nashville, TN USA – 5/7 November 2013) will demonstrate how automation solutions can drive margin improvement and profitability.
“Creating Business Value through Automation,” co-chaired by automation industry legends Peter G. Martin, Ph.D., and Maurice Wilkins, Ph.D., will illustrate the business-centric significance of automation, explaining how to optimize return on investment, precisely measure the business value of automation, and gain the buy-in and support of senior management.
“Effectively applied automation technology can be the most value-creating asset for industrial firms, yet executives of these companies generally don’t perceive it as such,” asserts Dr. Martin, Vice President of Business Value Solutions at Invensys Operations Management and a globally acclaimed expert on how automation can improve business and financial results. “This track will provide specific approaches to measuring business value in industrial operations in real time, empowering operational personnel to make better, more value-generating decisions in their day-to-day work, and applying specific automation solutions that will drive business value improvements in operations. Proven examples from across industry will help demonstrate the value of automation solutions, and will provide additional guidance on how to communicate the value of automation solutions to management.”
The “Creating Business Value through Automation” track is being developed by two of the automation field’s most highly regarded and experienced professionals, both acclaimed for their contributions in improving the performance of industrial process plants.
• Dr. Wilkins, Vice President of the Global Strategic Technology Marketing Center at Yokogawa Corporation, is widely recognized for establishing a procedural automation standard for the continuous process industries to improve safety and efficiency at manufacturing sites. He was responsible for proposing the ISA106 standard for Procedural Automation for Continuous Process Operations to the ISA Standards and Practices Board.
• Among many other honors, Dr. Martin has received the ISA Life Achievement Award in recognition of his work in integrating financial and production measures that improve the profitability and performance of process industry.
“It’s essential that manufacturers capitalize on the full potential of automation systems,” Dr. Martin emphasizes. “It’s been estimated that most automation systems and solutions are utilized at between 15 percent and 40 percent of their capacity. Obviously, there is a significant amount of spare capacity from both a functional and space perspective available. The industry needs to start utilizing this spare capacity to drive new, value-generating solutions on the capital investments that have already been made.”
Several factors, he says, have contributed to the under-utilisation and under-appreciation of automation solutions. They include:
- Accounting systems that lack the time or space resolution to measure the business value of automation solutions. Without these value measurements, the benefits derived from these solutions are not readily apparent.
- The lack of real-time business information given the speed and volatility of business variables associated with industrial operations.
- Plant accountants have traditionally not been responsible for determining the value of automation systems that have been installed. As a result, these systems tend to be regarded as lower in value.
“Too often, automation solutions are primarily regarded as replacement solutions for older automation technologies,” Dr. Martin explains. “Firms fail to realise any true business benefit beyond simply reducing maintenance costs. But automation solutions are powerful, value-adding assets that can significantly help move industry forward. That’s why measuring the business value of these solutions is so important.”
Another important topic to be discussed within the track is how changing workforce demographics will affect the automation business in the years ahead, says Dr. Wilkins.
“Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, and they need to work with the next generation of automation professionals–the Millennial Generation—to shape the profession and ensure it is in safe hands,” says Dr. Wilkins. “We have the Boomers who have understood the ins and outs of current processes and systems. And we have the Millennials who are able to use technology in ways that have not yet been fully considered in the automation industry. Both have very different attributes and both are needed for the future of our business.”