Top Ten Limitations – Communication

Every time I see associates retire, I have mixed emotions. I am happy to see them enjoy more R&R, but I am sad to see their expertise go. Very few users have had the time or support to communicate what they have learned the hard way by field experience. When they go out the door, often their expertise goes as well. Forever lost is the practical knowledge you can’t find in any text book.

I am fortunate in having a career for Monsanto Engineering Technology and now for Emerson DeltaV R&D where you are encouraged and given time to publish and present. I  have Jim Cahill recipient of BtoB magazine 2010 Social Media Award for Corporate Blog to lead me on the path to using social media, where I can blog, tweet, and demo (Deminar) my ideas. The feeling of ongoing communication with anyone anywhere is incredibly liberating.

My Control Talk column has become even more enjoyable by having a conversation with some of the more experienced and interesting people in our profession and sharing their perspective and knowledge. The questions are not scripted and the conversation is free to take its own path. Most of the people in the columns I met at technical conferences. You could tell from their presentations or questions they had something exceptional to say. A prime example of these connections was when I met Mark Congiundi at last year’s ISA Automation Week in Houston. A 2 hour subsequent conversation yielded a 4 part series of columns on Extraordinary PID Innovations. Similarly a 1 hour conversation with Hunter Vegas at the same conference provided a 3 part series of columns last fall culminating in The Final Word on Instrument Upgrade Projects.

Probably the fastest and biggest impact is presently via attendance at technical conferences. In the future it may be by social media as technical conferences go online. As some of our more seasoned experts decide to travel less, social media may be the best way of learning. With this in mind, Jon DiPietro and I are set to record an afternoon with Greg Shinskey at his home. The recording will be shown in an evening session titled “Shinskey and the Best of Process Control” at ISA Automation Week right after “Happy Hour”. Terry Tolliver, Nick Sands, and I will be toasting Shinskey by relating his impact on our careers and process and loop performance. Jim Cahill and Jon DiPietro are going to record this session plus keynotes, the legends panel, and key tutorials.

I am a big Crossroads fan where outstanding diverse talent meets on stage and share the common wonder of music despite vastly different audiences and interests. My favorite Crossroads is the Clapton Guitar Festival Chicago 2007. As ISA program chair, I have tried to create a Crossroads for our profession. If you are coming form overseas, consider maximizing the bang for bucks by going to both the ISA Automation Week Mobile and Emerson Exchange Nashville.

Here is my pitch to the ISA Summer Leaders Meeting in Saint Louis.

We are a technical society. ISA Automation Week is our premier technical conference unifying an expansive field of professionals. We have the best in the highest level of diverse talent participating and sharing their wisdom at our Crossroads; Automation Week 2011 in Mobile Oct 17-20. We have an incredible opportunity to synergistically build expertise for both the specialist and the generalist. We have the big names such as Charlie Cutler, Bela Liptak , and Gregg Shinskey, who are the source and inspiration of MPC/RTO, comprehensive automation system knowledge, and PID/process performance, respectively. Beyond these big names, people have agreed to share their extraordinary expertise such as Mark Congiundi, Barbara Hamilton, Mark Nixon, Ram Ramchandran, Joe Ruder, Michel Ruel, Jacques Smuts, and Hunter Vegas who are highlighted in past or future Control Talk columns. There will be a meeting of users for a kickoff of the ISA mentor program. We have expanded the spectrum topics on both ends into installation, operations, and maintenance and the advances in process control. We have sessions and posters to present the latest research and a technician day with practical courses and sessions. We have tutorials by me and ISA Fellow “Hall of Famers” Russ Rhinehart and Terry Tolliver. Jon DiPietro and Jim Cahill will be recording key sessions for future use by attendees. This premier technical conference is complemented by an energetic solution provider showcase with the latest in technology for the varied requirements of the automation professional. By covering an extensive range of topics and technical levels this event offers knowledge and networking opportunities for any point or path in an automation career.

As program chair I encourage you take advantage of this extraordinary technical opportunity to meet at our Crossroads – Mobile. I look forward to seeing you there and having a drink on the patio overlooking the waterfront.