Sailing Ships, Wired Telephones and Floppy Disks

Posted by Bruce Brandt on March 22, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

What do these three items have in common? The companies that made them were all felled by disruptive technologies. To be fair, sailing ships and wired phones still exist, but not like they did in their heyday. When’s the last time you saw a sail-powered cargo ship? How many of us even have a wired home phone? Does your new computer have a floppy disk drive? This week at MAVERICK we were charged with thinking like entrepreneurs, and one of the points on the slides was to look at disruptive technology. But just what is disruptive technology, and how will I know when I see it? That’s part of the problem — it’s sometimes hard to spot. As the Harvard Business Review put it, disruptive technology is initially less capable and less functional than what it will eventually replace. Take sailing ships. The builders of sailing ships initially dismissed the new steam-powered ships beca... Continue Reading

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Protecting Your Plant Floor Investment in the Post-Stuxnet Age

Posted by Erik Goode on March 15, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

Everyone’s heard of Stuxnet. But what does it mean to us now? In any economic climate, businesses desire reliability and predictability in their processes. Thanks to Stuxnet, there’s now more awareness of security improvements on the plant floor. Since insecure systems are a threat to predictability, and unpredictable systems are not safe, this is definitely a good thing. So, if your management threw money at you and said, “fix our processes,” what would you do? For that matter, what would you do if they left out the money part? Here are some actionable thoughts to consider in the areas of design, operational monitoring and incident response. Design Design to minimize the unexpected. Use physical network isolation and access control lists to control communication to and from your different SCADA control networks. Do not share physical networks with no... Continue Reading

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The Key to a Successful Automation Project

Posted by Mike Gavin on March 7, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

Today, project management success is as much about the process and procedures followed during execution as it is about the project managers themselves. Definition, justification, specifications, proposal development, etc., are all important aspects of a successful project, as are the skill, experience and intangible assets of the PM. True success, however, sometimes comes from areas unrelated to one person. From a pure procedural perspective, the Project Management Institute (PMI) specializes in defining the processes for managing efforts in general, but a successful automation effort requires a tailored approach to managing a project. The most successful automation companies develop specific project execution methodologies they use to manage their project portfolios, usually by blending in best practices from various industry experts like ISO, ISA and GAMP. By merging these best prac... Continue Reading

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What’s Holding You Back?

Posted by Paul Galeski on February 29, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking to you about DCS migration. Why it’s important. Why, if not done properly, it can be very painful. And why DCS Next is different. Now it’s time for you to talk to us. Start by answering a simple question: What’s holding you back? We typically see three big reasons most companies wait to begin a DCS migration: 1. Cost. Completing a DCS migration can come with a price tag in the millions. But the cost of staying with a legacy system will eventually outgrow the cost of migration. DCS Next takes that cost into consideration. Our experts look at your entire business to give you visibility into your real total cost of ownership (TCO). This means we can highlight the parts of the project that will deliver the highest return first, and the first part of migration can help pay for the rest. 2. Business disruptionContinue Reading

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You’re Agile or You’re Dead

Posted by Paul Galeski on February 22, 2012 @ 11:33 am

Strong words with a true message. It’s critical to understand how times have changed. If you can’t react, you won’t just be left behind — you’ll be gone. As Bernard Baruch described the challenge of the Atomic Age, “We are here to make a choice between the quick and the dead.” The global economy hasn’t just changed distribution. It’s changed competition. Manufacturing companies are searching for ways to produce a product that will sell into any market, anywhere — and in short order. Because markets are global, most manufacturing companies are no longer protected or buffered from changing product requirements by geography, regulations or tariffs. It is necessary to respond today to the trends discovered today. The only constant in today’s business world is the ever-increasing velocity of change. Companies that truly embrace global manufacturing, distribution an... Continue Reading

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