Dave Morton of Automated Control & Technical Services

Dave Morton is Vice President of Operations for Automated Control & Technical Services in Bakersfield, CA, and he gets customer intimacy.  According to Dave, it’s a “big deal.”  “Engineering, System Integration, installation and 24X7 support along with keeping in touch on a regular basis are critical.”

He goes so far as to say that being there for customers when they need to bounce ideas off a knowledgeable person is simply part of job.  “Turnkey accountability” can’t happen any other way.  Since Automated Control & Technical Services does both the electrical work and the systems integration, avoiding finger-pointing is a must.

With that breadth of responsibility assumed on behalf of customers, how do they keep control of their organization?  The key is standards and procedures according to Morton.  “Otherwise one of the company leaders would need to be directly involved in every project at every level,” he says.  That situation would prevent good customer service.

And the foundation of those standards and procedures?  CSIA Certification.  It’s been the roadmap for not only defining, but also consistently following their processes; ensuring both quality and tight project management.  For Automated Control & Technical Services, it’s also an important, 3rd party validation benchmark that customers can use to judge them before signing a contract.

Great insights from an experienced executive.  Don’t miss this one!

Tim DePalma of B&D Industrial

You’d expect a company celebrating its 65th anniversary to be a solid, dependable outfit, expert at keeping customers happy.  B&D Industrial, an independently owned provider of industrial products and services, certainly fits that description.  Who’d think though, that they would also be a prolific source of creativity and innovation?

This conversation with Tim DePalma, B&D’s Director of Technical Services and Corporate Development provides a glimpse into some of the truly advanced systems they’re designing and delivering.  He traces much of their success to the Norcross, GA based Technical Solutions Group.  Gathering all their technology gurus into one location enables extensive cross-pollination of concepts and ideas, resulting in an “innovation engine” to address customers issues and challenges.

Listen to some of advanced applications of remote, real-time monitoring.  B&D has been able to dramatically reduce costs and boost production up-time and production throughput for their customers by identify problems BEFORE they occur.

And you simply cannot miss the “Pecan Worm Story.”  Picture a two-foot wide conveyor belt-full of freshly picked pecans whizzing along at high speed.  Some of the nuts have tiny worms on them – NOT something that can go into the package.  A B&D designed vision system spots the little rascals and ensures a thorough “wash and rinse” cycle.

Very cool stuff!

Putting real meaning behind the word “Partner”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard such a great story about genuine partnering!  In this interview, Steve Townsend, Senior Controls Engineer for Imerys and Chuck Wambeke, President of Industrial Automation Consulting both out of Three Forks, Montana talk about two decades of producing mutual value.

What’s the basis for this sustained success story?  Standardization.  Documented standards for automation, naming and even beyond that, to blocking and tackling like wiring at the electrical, PLC and HMI levels, is the underlying theme.  Steve emphasizes how even though individual employees may come and go, the standards remain.  They’re an anchor that continuously minimizes both excess work and change orders.  Better yet, Chuck and Steve have aggressively leveraged the power of these standards across all their locations.

Chuck shared a bit of historical perceptive as well.  IAC started thinking in terms of best practices and standards even before the CSIA (Control System Integrators Association) was established.  They continue this focus and for the third time, are ready to get re-certified.  What’s particularly striking is Steve’s (i.e., the customer’s) perspective on the value of CSIA Certification.  He attributes much of Imerys’ stellar safety record to the CSIA-based safety standards ICA helped them implement.  Think of a talc mine in Montana, and then think about no lost time accidents in 6 years.  As I said in the interview, “Wow!”

Listen to the whole discussion to bone up on how “partnering” is done.

Sam Hoff talks about selling with social media

Sam Hoff, President of Patti Engineering, talks about selling with social media.  He framed the issue and the compelling need for a strong strategy and presence succinctly with three statements:

  1. “In this business, you live by your references and your reputation.”
  2. “If you’re not on their mind, they’re not going to pick up the phone and call you.”
  3. “The have qualified you before they ever call you.”

Sam also shared a boat-load of tips about effectively using your web Site, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, e-newsletters and Customer forums.

Paul Wilson and Ken McLaughlin – Creating Business Value

Paul Wilson, Vice President, Business Development & Marketing and Ken McLaughlin, Director of Automation Systems with JMP Engineering talk about creating business value.  For these two it all starts with recognizing that every customer – and every individual within that customer – is different and has a different spin on exactly what “value” is.

They explain a three step life-cycle for partnering with customers to optimize their value-creating process:

  • Plan – Paul aims for investing 50% of JMP’s time understanding what customers want to accomplish and why.  (Think about the magnitude of that time investment…)
  • Choose – That is, decide which of the many combinations and permutations of components and vendors make for the best overall solution.  (Very interesting perspective here on the difference between recommendations – the JMP way – and quotes – the more typical approach.)
  • Manage – Including change management during implementation as well as ongoing support and service

Listen closely for a whole series of insightful nuggets!

Marty Michael and “Overall Equipment Effectiveness”

In his role as Vice President of Enterprise Software Solutions for Avanceon, Marty Michael has acquired a wealth of knowledge about designing, developing and implementing  control systems.  His professional focus is on reliability and control of information and automation systems in manufacturing.

In this interview, Marty discusses “Overall Equipment Effectiveness” or OEE.  OEE is statistical measure that enables analysis of  performance of equipment, availability (or it’s opposite, down time) and quality (i.e., good vs. waste)

In a nutshell, it involves mapping the manufacturing process (starting with a small portion of it), collecting data, analyzing it and using the insights gained to improve performance.  You don’t want to miss this “how to” discussion.  There’s a whole lot of cash to be saved with OEE!