January/February 2012
Your Letters

Building a strong business case

Thanks for the enlightening article in InTech (July/August 2011 "Talk to me"). Nothing seems to change. I was espousing your exact sentiments using ALL advantages to sell automation to the decision makers (DMs). The DMs need to know the business case for spending money. I was promoting this thinking as early as the 1970s. Even the DMs with an engineering background could not understand the inherent advantages of automated process systems without a strong business case set before them. It is incumbent upon the controls engineers of today to come out of the closet and learn to develop a strong business case for their automated process systems. It is no longer enough to just be an engineer designing and implementing automated systems; engineers must learn and use the fundamentals of building a business case to sell their project to DMs.

Can InTech run a series of articles about how to build a strong business case for automated systems in today's world? An ongoing column in every issue to re-enforce the concepts of building a business case would be very helpful. Some examples from readers would be very helpful. Getting money to implement automated systems is all but impossible in many stressed industries. Your participation through InTech would be a great advantage to ISA members. You might want to think of webinars on the subject, as well.

Bob Giese

Go prepared

I appreciate Bruce Slade's exhortation and tips for "working" a room ("Final Say," July/August InTech). I too, like Slade, was very backward in my youth until I moved away from my hometown for work. I undertook a self-study to overcome my strong tendencies to be a "wall-flower," trying to blend into the woodwork. The first thing I did was observe others who seemed to be comfortable mingling in a crowd.

In addition to the tips you have given, I do the following: Go prepared with a pen and 3x5 card in my pocket. Another thing, I remind myself that I was a visitor once, and it is a very uncomfortable feeling. A third thing I do when I'm introduced is to repeat the new person's name, and I concentrate intensely to get the name correct. I try to continue the conversation for two minutes using their name three times while looking them in the eye.

The fourth thing is to write highlights of our conversation on the back side of their business card or the 3x5 card in my pocket. The fifth thing I do is make an introduction to someone else I met earlier. If all else fails, when I see the person later, I take out my 3x5 card and ask them to write down their name and company.

Thanks again for Slade's exhortation. Engineering folks are seldom "minglers" by nature. I've been told on several occasions that I am the exception rather than the rule of the stereotypical engineering type.

Jack R. Jones

Replacing motors

Good article (September/October "Talk to me"). Your comment about switching to "high efficiency" motors only partially solves the problem since most motors are over-sized and not operating at maximum efficiency ... and power factor. So instead of a 10hp motor, try replacing it with a 7.5hp motor, etc.

This is based upon over 30 years of combined experience with Westinghouse, as well as a major IOU, etc., selling capacitors and motor repair as well as DSM-"energy efficiency program" (design/justification/evaluation).

Rick Gordon