Blog! Five Fast Things for December 5, 2006

By Bob Vavra, Editor, Plant Engineering December 5, 2006

Five Fast Things for December 5, 2006:

1. Invensys in Dallas: The annual Invensys user group meeting has kicked off in the LoneStarState. It’s been a dynamic year for Invensys with the full launch of its InFusion enterprise control system, and the company is announcements of both system enhancements (condition management) and its installations ( South Carolina electrical distribution systems ) at the show.

One of Monday’s more interesting presentations was from Invensys wireless guru Hesh Kagan and Apprion marketing manager Ian McPherson on the future of wireless. Apprion and Invensys have partnered on a wireless solution, so their presentation talked about specific product advantages, but the real message was that wireless works, it is robust, and it is being migrated rapidly to address many solutions. Wireless is a great way to measure what couldn’t be measured before and to enhance your existing measurement and monitoring strategy.

2. In the BuyerZone: The latest Reed Business Information acquisition, BuyerZone helps small- to mid-sized companies find product and service suppliers online — everything from financial services to office furniture, from construction equipment to 401K plans for your employees. The acquisition of BuyerZone by RBI Monday will expand Plant Engineering’s offerings to customers looking for these kinds of products and services. It’s one more resource for you as we continue to develop our online offerings of news and information and practical tips for doing your job each day. It’s worth a look.

3. Lean-ing on blogs: Mike Gardner was good enough to share a few more blogs on the manufacturing space, especially in the Lean area. I’ll add a few to the list each day this week, starting with Mike’s own blog, TPM Log , which he describes as “A corporate weblog for advancement of TPM and Lean ideas within the American Mitsuba family of companies and suppliers.” It’s got some general thoughts on Lean, and a good network to other folks talking Lean, including Mike Wroblewski’s Got Boondoggle blog, which talks about five simple rules for maintaining equipment effectively.

We communicate in large ways and small — through big magazines, through one-on-ones at trade events and through our computers. The inportant things is to keep talking and sharing ideas.

4. Airgas stays busy: If it’s in the industrial gas market, Airgas seems to want to buy it. Looking like the Chicago Cubs of the market, the company continued its aggressive buying spree December 1 by acquiring Alabama-based Southern Welding Supply, Inc. and Michigan-based Alpena Supply Company. Airgas is trumpeting the acquisition strategy by noting the latest deals “bring the total number of acquisitions in fiscal 2007 to 10, with acquired sales now topping $140 million.”

This deal comes after Airgas acquired Linde on November 22, and their media release contends “Airgas is showing no signs of slowing down.”

5. The path to finding employees: There’s an issue beyond manufacturing losing jobs. It’s that manufacturing doesn’t have enough workers. How is that possible? We’ve written about it extensively , and you’ll see more articles about it in the December issue of Plant Engineering. For now, check out this article in the Berkshire Eagle in Berkshire, MA. The key quote in the article comes from the BerkshireCommunity College dean setting up a program for high school students to learn more about manufacturing:

“We are growing a future manufacturing worker who will comfortably be using math and science to find creative solutions to problems — one who will be able to communicate ideas and who has the credibility of hands-on manufacturing expertise,” said Bill Mulholland, BCC’s dean of lifelong learning and workforce development.

This is simple, folks. If you face a worker shortage, you’ve got to begin a relationship on the local level. The workers are out there; you simply need to light the path to your front door.