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  • By Bill Lydon
  • The Final Say

By Bill Lydon

Modernizing manufacturing is vitally important, and knowledgeable automation professionals are instrumental for companies to be successful and profitable. Automation professionals need continuous learning to keep up to date on the latest ideas, concepts, and developments, including Industry 4.0 and digitalization.

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, puts constant learning in perspective with a story about man walking through a forest who came across a frustrated lumberjack trying to cut down a tree. He was swearing and cursing as he labored in vain. “What’s the problem?” The man asked. “My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly.” The man asked, “Why don’t you just sharpen it?” “Because then I would have to stop sawing,” said the lumberjack. “But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.” “But I don’t have time to stop!” replied the lumberjack.

The moral of the story is we need to keep developing our minds by continually learning to become more effective: “sharpen the saw.” This is more important than ever with the dramatic changes in technology and concepts, including Industry 4.0, digitalization, Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, wireless communications, and sensor technology advancements providing new industrial automation possibilities to improve, optimize, and digitize production.

ISA is providing members the opportunity to learn and keep up to date via its Smart Manufacturing and IIoT (SMIIoT) Division. It is the newest and fastest growing division of ISA and is aimed at helping members gain knowledge and learn from industry experts and peers professionally and technically. The primary goals of SMIIoT are to provide clarity around these ever-evolving spaces, develop useful technical content, develop standardized approaches to solve critical problems, and provide a forum for professional networking and collaboration.

Smart Manufacturing and IIoT Division technical committees

The goal of these committees is to advance technical competence in focus areas:

  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • cloud technologies
  • artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
  • communication and networking (Industrial Internet)
  • cybersecurity
  • cyber-physical systems
  • digital twin and simulation
  • virtualization technologies (virtual reality [VR] and augmented reality [AR])

Smart Manufacturing and IIoT Division activities

  • create and collect technical resources for members (e.g., articles, white papers, case studies, tools)
  • publish quarterly newsletter for awareness of SMIIoT division activities and industry news
  • host technical webinars
  • support Smart Manufacturing and IIoT Conference
  • collaborate with ISA districts and sections to promote and disseminate relevant information
  • expand volunteering opportunities for further collaboration and networking
  • develop a network of smart manufacturing and IIoT partner organizations as resources to members

You can take advantage of this opportunity to “sharpen the saw,” to become a valuable contributor to your company’s success and advance your professional career building a better world through automation, by becoming a member of ISA. Members can find out more about the Smart Manufacturing and IIoT Division by visiting the Communities section of ISAConnect. Others can visit www.isa.org/smiiot.

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About The Authors


Bill Lydon is an InTech contributing editor with more than 25 years of industry experience. He regularly provides news reports, observations, and insights here and on Automation.com