1 August 2005

Lighting the path

By Ellen Fussell Policastro

In a world of changing business strategies, uncertain futures, and burgeoning technologies, confusion could descend like a dark cloud upon manufacturers' hopes. Guidance will come from expert speakers and panelists at the ISA EXPO 2005 in Chicago, 25-27 October.

Feeding the beast

Kevin RoachIn his presentation, "MES - Coming of Age," Kevin Roach, vice president of software at Rockwell Automation and the keynote speaker on 25 October, will highlight market trends and customer expectations driving the future of manufacturing execution systems (MES).

"As technology has advanced and the systems themselves, supply chain system, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) have matured, they're trying to sink roots down into the manufacturing facility to get the information they need to present in a timely fashion the executives making decisions," Roach said. "So you've got this pressure from above driving down into the organization to seek out data. We call it feeding the beast."

Roach said the solution is collaboration. "That really means the ability to publish information once and share it many times so the right person gets the right information at the right time in some kind of actionable format."

Roach will discuss studies that prove manufacturers can realize those returns by deploying comprehensive MES solutions. He'll present the charter of MESA, the need for collaborative MES, and the organization's role to educate manufacturers, making them more competitive on a global basis.

Riding the wave

Jeff HarrowWe all know the technology consumers have at their fingertips is incredible, especially if we consider what was available 10 years ago or even five years ago, said Jeff Harrow, principal at The Harrow Group and Wednesday's keynoter. In his presentation, "Technology & You: We're in for an Awesome Ride," Harrow will use techniques and examples to help people understand just how fast and complex it's been to get where we are today from a technological standpoint. "Then we'll go forward and get realistic ideas of how much faster the technology will improve every year hence," he said. An example is the billions of transistors on a chip and the potential for processing power in the lab completely overshadows the types of computing power we use today, he said.

"The most salient point is we'll find out how and why technology is not only moving faster, but the rate at which technology continues to get faster," Harrow said. "It's called double exponential technology growth, and we'll explore how this affects each of us and our businesses."

Eating safely

Jim DurkinIt's a global race. At least that's how Jim Durkin, vice president engineering, global supply chain, Kraft Foods Inc. and the keynoter on 27 October, describes the food industry's plight these days. Markets outside any one specific country or region are experiencing high growth opportunities. The challenge is expanding as quickly and as cost effectively as possible.

In his presentation, "Feeding the World Safely, Securely, and Cost Effectively-The Engineering Challenges," Durkin will talk about how engineering will play a key role in this globalization effort. The key is to realize growth opportunities and drive down costs to keep companies competitive. Yet we still need to address food and employee safety. Durkin will address issues facing the future of the food industry, including security and reliability. And he'll give pointers on how vendors can help meet food industry needs.