• Industry Update

In Memoriam: Francis “Greg” Shinskey

Greg Shinskey, “the genius behind feedforward control,” circa 1975.
Francis Gregway “Greg” Shinskey, of North Tonawanda, N.Y., was born 29 October 1931, and passed away peacefully in North Smithfield, R.I., on 25 September 2021. He was 89.

Shinskey graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1952 with a BS in chemical engineering and as a commissioned naval officer. He served two years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War before beginning his career with Olin Chemical Company in New York. In 1960, he hit his stride with The Foxboro Company in Massachusetts, where his stellar career as a control systems engineer spanned more than three decades.

Shinskey was not only an expert, but an innovator and visionary. In The Foxboro Company, 1908–2008, 100 Years, Jack Authelet writes that Shinskey is “considered by many in the industry as the genius behind feedforward control,” and that he retired “as the most recognized, widely published name in the industry, holder of 18 patents, author of more than 100 published papers on process control and seven books that became standards within the industry.”

The prolific industry author shared his expertise as a frequent lecturer and in the seminal textbook Process Control Systems, published by McGraw-Hill and used in college courses across the country. He penned Feedback Controllers for the Process Industries after he retired. His materials continue to be used, carrying on his legacy of mentorship.

Shinskey was the recipient of many prestigious awards in his lifetime. He was one of the first two Bristol Fellows—he and Hoel Bowditch were honored simultaneously—named by The Foxboro Company. From ISA, Shinskey earned the Donald P. Eckman Award in 1983, the Albert F. Sperry Award in 1988, the status of Fellow in 1990, and the Life Achievement Award in 2008.

“I often thought that there was nobody that had more impact on forwarding the mission of ISA during my lifetime than Greg Shinskey,” said Peter Martin, a retired executive from Schneider Electric, which had previously acquired Invensys and, before that, Foxboro. “ISA was like the automation and control leader of industry, and Greg was the control leader of industry. If I think back during my career, there are probably only a few names that come up that are even close to that. He kind of set the path for them.”

Martin adds, “Greg was also probably one of the world’s leading controls people around distillation columns, which are particularly tricky to control. Even after he retired, he would monitor the distillation columns of Petro-Canada from his barn.” Shinskey’s own bio made brief mention of his contributions in the application of feedforward controls and relative gain analysis, as well as nonlinear and self-tuning controllers with deadtime compensation.

Martin recalls encountering Shinskey for the first time in the 1970s. “When I first joined Foxboro, Greg Shinskey was the person. Everybody said, ‘Oh, have you met Greg Shinskey?’ He was almost a demigod at that time. It was fascinating, because when he walked in the room, everybody just got quiet: ‘Here comes Greg. Let’s see what Greg has to say.’ Certainly, he was an engineer, probably the ultimate engineer—he graduated from Notre Dame, and he really knew his stuff. But the thing that surprised me was what a complete ‘gentle man’ he was, in the truest sense of the word. He was just about the nicest person you’d ever meet.”

Authelet shares the same sentiment. “He was very humble. He was incredibly talented in his contributions to the products being developed by The Foxboro Company and was held in great esteem in the industry and different industrial groups, but he himself was very quiet and unassuming.”

Indicative of Shinskey’s ability to transfer his knowledge via books, Martin recalls, “As smart as he was, he was just such a good teacher. When I came in, I was not a control engineer, so I had a lot of questions. He’d just take the time, and he’d explain it. Very often people who know the most can explain it the simplest. They know it so well that they can just tell it to you, and Greg could explain things in such a simple way. I learned control engineering from Greg.”

While his curiosity and scientific mind afforded him and The Foxboro Company much success, at the same time Shinskey was an artistic soul and beloved family man of great faith who was highly active in his church and community. For years, he had a column in the local newspaper, of which Authelet was the editor, called “God in Our Lives.” Says Authelet, “It was nondenominational—just comments about faith-based people and the choices we make and the lives we live and how do we care for each other. It was just remarkable in and of itself.”

Shinskey took great pleasure in his historic Foxboro, Mass., farm home built in the 1770s. He also enjoyed oil painting, hiking, gardening, and his self-restored 1959 Morris Mini bicycle. Peter Martin recalls him wearing his Harris tweed jacket, riding that bicycle from building to building to talk to customers or teach a course if the weather was right.

Says Authelet, “Greg was definitely a very unusual individual. Incredibly, incredibly talented, yet asked absolutely nothing for himself. But he lived his faith, and that took him to the heights.”

Shinskey continued to serve as an independent consultant when he retired in 1993 to Sandwich, N.H., with his wife, Elizabeth. He is survived by his three daughters, five sons, 17 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, as well as his brother and two sisters.  –By Lynn DeRocco

Event Review: Ignition Community Conference 2021

Inductive Automation took virtual networking to the next level at its 2021 Ignition Community Conference.
The 2021 Ignition Community Conference (ICC) was another high-energy and informative event—the company’s second held virtually. Under the theme “Evolve to be Smarter, Faster and Stronger,” the September event billed itself as “taking virtual networking to the next level” with an interactive video chat platform. Attendees could start video chats in virtual rooms with a simple point-and-click and make conversations public or private.

In his opening keynote, the founder and CEO of Inductive Automation, Steve Hechtman, discussed the importance of the company keeping a finger on the pulse of the business: “I started the company to address pain points experienced as a system integrator,” he said, citing his 25 years of experience in that segment of industrial automation. “Without experience as an integrator, how could you run an industrial software company?” He emphasized the company’s commitment to collaboration, sharing and working with the industrial automation community to improve the industry.

The ICC conference again featured the Discover Gallery, showcasing a wide range of interesting applications. The annual Ignition Firebrand Awards recognized system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform for projects that include human-machine interface, supervisory control and data acquisition, manufacturing execution systems, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The system integrator panel this year included Brian McClain, business development manager for Corso Systems; Cody Warren, senior controls engineer for Tamaki Controls; Dustin Wilson, senior project manager for Phantom Technical Services, Inc.; Jake Hall, business development manager for Feyen Zylstra; and moderator Shay Johnson, sales engineer for Inductive Automation. 

One of the topics addressed by the panel involved the digitization of work instructions. Digital information and work-process instructions for machine setup and operation are becoming important to bring on new workers that can be effective quickly, they said. This is valuable for every manufacturer grappling with the labor shortage and skills gap. In addition, this simplifies cross training of existing workers on new systems and platforms. –By Bill Lydon

The Future of Automation: CODESYS Tech Talk Fall 2021

The CODESYS Corporation North America hosted a distinguished live speaker panel during its October CODESYS Users Conference and Tech Talk Fall 2021 event. The goal was to provide the latest insights on the “future of automation and the changes in automation communication and IIoT integration.” Panelists included Albert Rooyakkers, CEO/CTO from Bedrock Automation; Jose Rivera, CEO from CSiA; Don Bartusiak, president of CSI; Brandon Williams, cofounder of CPLANE.ai; and Dieter Hess, CEO of CODESYS Group. The moderator of this panel was Bill Lydon, automation industry expert, consultant, and Automation.com contributing editor. Here is an excerpt of some remarks by panel participants. Visit Automation.com for a full report.

Don Bartusiak: Industries that are not embracing digital technologies are not very appealing to the very people, the digital natives, who companies need to make the digital transformation. Companies have to show an appealing career perspective to people coming out of college who are math, computer, and communications oriented, or they all will go to tech companies. You have to give them a workplace where they feel productive, and if you’re a manufacturing company that doesn’t do that, you’re not going to get the talent you need to survive.

Albert Rooyakkers: You need a blend of old and new with several generations. We have people on our team who are in their 60s, 70s, and 20s. You need the mix and match of the wisdom and historical perspective of automation in addition to the young talent who are digitally astute. When the new talent is exposed to the real-world production and physics, they gain a broader understanding and appreciation of industry. Putting the young and experienced talent together can help the younger generation get excited about the industry, factory and process automation. I don’t think it’s hard to find people who not only are smart, innovative, and flexible, but also have a curious mind that’s willing to learn new things.

Dieter Hess: It is really about combining the abilities of people who are able to create a software architecture with people who know how processes and machines work. It is unbelievable what you can do if you combine both together.

Jose Rivera: As things get more complex, we will have to rely more and more on diverse good working teams.

Brandon Williams: Modern and open systems provide an incredible toolkit that is a broader canvas, removing a lot of closed system barriers and enabling creation of new applications. The application of AI, analytics, and other open features using a container or virtual machine inside a control system with access to an OPC UA data flow in real time unlocks opportunities that cannot be realized today with proprietary closed systems. I think it will be somewhat like the Renaissance with new tools and platforms that are going to unlock creativity.

Don Bartusiak: To be successful in the application of AI and other technologies, in my experience you need collaboration between the data scientist and people with domain knowledge; one or the other is not sufficient.

Albert Rooyakkers: The tremendous processing power on a chip that can be put in field devices, such as sensors and actuators, coupled with an understanding of applications will result in AI and expert systems becoming commoditized and embedded in devices. A pump is a pump; a reactor is a reactor; a distillation column is a distillation column; in the free and open world, these tools and AI algorithms are going to be commoditized and made available instantaneously to the people with the same pump, reactor, and other devices. The architecture is becoming highly distributed with computing at edge devices that have the software, analytics, AI, tools; cybersecurity must be at each one of those tiny little endpoints.

Hannover Messe 2022 Plans Focus on Digitalization and Sustainability

Onuora Ogbukagu said the physical trade fair will be combined with digital for 2022.
Restarting after two years without a physical trade fair, the organizers of Germany’s Hannover Messe 2022 trade fair focused on transformation and their next event’s themes of digitalization and sustainability. At an October press conference, Deutsche Messe AG, Hannover, spokesman Onuora Ogbukagu recognized how the digital Hannover Messe offerings provided during the pandemic helped the event and its exhibitors to reach a broader audience through linking the physical trade fair with new digital products. Hannover Messe is dedicated to providing important content for industry in both the physical trade show and virtual worlds going forward, he said.

Jochen Köckler, PhD and CEO of Deutsche Messe AG, which puts on the event, noted the “continuous stream of innovations to improve industry” that Hannover Messe has showcased for the past 70 years: “Industrial innovations that manufacturing organizations can implement for competitive survival and continued prosperity. This is even more compelling today with the most profound industrial digitalization and sustainability transformation challenges occurring, including resource efficiency, carbon neutrality, and sustainability.”

Köckler emphasized, “We face the greatest transformation since industrialization towards a resource-saving, climate-neutral, and sustainable industry.” He discussed the importance of collaboration between industry, innovators, and politicians to achieve sustainability goals.

“Hannover Messe provides a unique event bringing together industry, technological innovators, and politicians participating in constructive discourse to collaboratively explore major issues seeking clarity, creating ideas, and setting new directions,” he said. Hannover Messe is the showcase for products industry will use to become carbon neutral and sustainable, and “digitalization and sustainability will be the driving force for Hannover Messe topics for years to come.”

Portugal is the official partner country of Hannover Messe 2022. As Germany’s third most important trading partner, Portugal will showcase its focus on engineered parts and solutions, digital ecosystems and energy solutions, and clusters of excellence such as mechanical engineering, metal, mobility, aeronautics, textiles, technical plastics, production technologies, and renewable energy. –By Bill Lydon

Trelleborg Launches Women Influencers Program

For the inaugural event of the Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Women Influencers program, seven women in the manufacturing, technology, and supply chain industry participated in a virtual panel discussion about how to bridge the gap for women in their fields, particularly in aerospace.

The discussion, moderated by Sudha Chandrasekharan, general manager of the Trelleborg Sealing Solutions facility in Denver, Colo., U.S., and Greg Jones, director of Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Aerospace Hub Americas, explored the panelists’ leadership philosophies and their views on gender diversity and inclusiveness in manufacturing, technology, and supply chain roles.

Participants voiced their opinions on common misconceptions about women in leadership and how to overcome them, the importance of mentorship programs, and the value of being bold in the workplace. Panel participants also shared stories about their successes and the challenges they have faced in their academic and career journeys. 

Chandrase-kharan, the catalyst for the Women Influencers program, said, “The strongest women are those who build each other up. If we want to see more women leaders, it’s important for women to develop a strong supportive network of mentors. I am delighted to see this program take off and watch the partnerships form between women influencers.”

Panelists included Heather Castleman, senior director of strategy and marketing, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions; Nancy Getz, product line director, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions; Kathy Hamrick, financial analyst, Boeing; Tara Heller, ITAR compliance manager, Magpul Industries Corporation; Tricia Heller, director of compliance, IP, and brand protection, Magpul Industries Corporation; Honorata Hencel, regional director, Poland Boeing Global Services; Kelsie Soneson, director of project management, IHS.

Reader Feedback

We want to hear from you! Please send us your comments and questions about this topic to InTechmagazine@isa.org.

Like This Article?

Subscribe Now!

About The Author