Got my Droid Incredible today. The first two hours have been great.

I write about what manufacturers do to improve effectiveness and efficiency of manufacturing and production processes. And I write about automation technology suppliers and their products. But sometimes we forget that these latter companies are also manufacturers–and usually quite good. I spent three days in Minneapolis this week that were packed with meetings. Some really smart people shared ideas about technology and automation. Then an inept editor gave a talk to a roomful of PR professionals about editor/PR relations. I appreciated the questions. Hope I shared some useful information.

One meeting was at the Emerson Rosemount facility in Chanhassen. Good use of Lean manufacturing–in fact they told me they use Lean thinking for all areas of the operations. They have in-line testing for their measurement products and a cool lab for all sorts of tests. Just a reminder that I can interview companies such as Emerson for manufacturing insights as well as measurement and automation insights.

Meanwhile, Rockwell Automation announced its new PlantPAx Logix Batch and Sequence Manager. The application allows users to configure sequences directly in the controller through a human-machine interface. For system integrators, this feature eliminates the need for engineering-intensive custom code, while OEMs can now design a common process control solution for end customers requiring local sequencing that can easily integrate into a larger plantwide solution. Rockwell notes this product is ideal for stand-alone units like mixers, blenders and reactors that require flexibility in the sequence (procedures) of the process and the formulas (setpoints) for the recipe. It is also well suited for common continuous sequencing applications like process startup/shutdown, grade changes and cleaning skid control.

“Many applications require sequence management capabilities, but the complexity of the process may not be great enough to warrant a server-based batch software package,” said Andy Stump, manager, Batch Solutions, Rockwell Automation. “This solution allows the user to start small, but if at any point the requirements grow, users can simply migrate the Logix Batch and Sequence Manager into a comprehensive software solution like FactoryTalk Batch without costly re-engineering and testing.”

The application is based on ISA-88 standards, which provide a consistent framework for the application. This consistency helps the end user troubleshoot problems faster, improve the run-time experience, and thus increase throughput and improve quality.

I should note that Rockwell has been showing me a number of software products based on standards. This type of thinking really propels the industry. People are not so afraid to try things, and with an understood conceptual framework, it’s easier to implement.

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