• By Renee Bassett
  • August 30, 2023
  • Talk to Me

“Automation professionals are worth their weight in gold to employers when they apply knowledge and creativity to improving production.”

Bill Lydon has said some variation of this truism many times over the years, and it is as true today as it ever was. Now I get to use the phrase to wish Bill well as he retires from his “second career”: writer/editor for InTech and Automation.com.

Bill joined ISA in 1975, not long after Johnson Controls Inc. liked his background in real-time controls enough to hire him into an important part of his “first career”—the group developing JCI’s first building automation system. A JCI vice president (and ISA member) recommended Bill attend an ISA short course on the ap­plication of microprocessors for controls and automation. Fast forward to Bill’s second career with ISA and he is writing and speaking with his unique knowledge of information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and business systems. (For more on Bill’s history, see p. 54.)

Long before IT and OT converged in the industrial space, Bill saw the potential for open, secure, and interoperable industrial system design: One of his best-read articles was “Achieving multivendor interoperability with open systems” in which Bill wrote about a proj­ect involving ExxonMobil, Schneider Electric, CPLANE.ai and others in The Open Group.

Bradon Williams of CPLANE.ai said this about Bill soon after the article came out: “In my experience, Bill has more insight into IT/OT convergence than almost anyone in the industry. Why is that? Bill has lived (not just written about) both sides of the equation for several decades. With apologies to Wayne Gretzky (the Great One), Bill is skating to where the puck will be. And that is what makes him worth listening to.”

Bill skated to where the puck will be for us recently in the 8th annual AUTOMATION 2023 Industrial Automation & Control Trends ebook, where he discusses open automa­tion and other technologies enabling digital transformations and corporate resilience. On Automation.com and LinkedIn, he posts about ChatGBT, digitizing manufacturing and more.

Like many of us, Bill says he has missed the hallway conversations and spontaneous discussions of live events recently. The good news for him and us is that he will make an in-person appearance at ISA’s Automation & Leadership Conference (ALC) in Colorado Springs this fall (p. 23). I will be there, The Open Group and its partners will be in the exhibit area, and Bill will be cruising the hallways—ready for conversation and happy to share his points of view.

You’ve been worth your weight in gold to me and all of ISA, Bill. I look forward to seeing you soon. Godspeed.

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About The Authors

Renee Bassett is chief editor for InTech magazine and Automation.com, and publications contributing editor for ISA. Bassett is an experienced writer, editor, and consultant for industrial automation, engineering, information technology, and infrastructure topics. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and English from Indiana University, Bloomington, and is based in Nashville.