JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 298 : 20 September 2011


Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Remembering Betty Hollander of Omega Engineering

This is not another obituary on my friend Betty Hollander. I'm writing this more to remember and celebrate my own memories of a good friend and a wonderful person. I first got to know her in the early days of Action Instruments, the company I founded in San Diego, CA. in 1972.

Omega was founded by Betty Hollander in 1962. She was a 32-year-old mother of four small children when she founded Omega at her kitchen table in Stamford, Connecticut. Her company started with making thermocouples and expanded into a wide range of measurement and control products.

When we met, Omega had about 50 people and was located in the cellar under a grocery store in Stamford, CT. I learned that the first 20 employees were women; and I met Earl McKinley, the Engineering Manager, who was the first male employee. And then I met the warm and smiling Betty Hollander and her husband, the dynamic Dr. Milton Hollander. At that time, Milt was Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Gulf+Western Industries, with over 200 personal patents. He seemed like the technical wizard behind the scenes, while his wife was the heart and soul of the company.

Some months later the Hollanders visited Action Instruments, and they grilled me on the spirit and ethos of the company, the sense of open-ness and equality that stemmed from our employee ownership plan. I remember that when I introduced Ginny Schoenberger in the stock-room, an older person and one of the original Action employees, the two ladies hugged spontaneously. Betty Hollander then walked around the assembly floor of Action Instruments and shook hands with everyone.

Betty and Milt Hollander are very private people; but there's a certain line beyond which one becomes "family". They made me feel I was family. When my grandson was born about 9 years ago, the grandpa received a bouquet and a card. When my daughter Rosalie was married about 5 years ago, the Hollanders sent flowers and a generous gift.

Omega grew into an industry powerhouse, always family owned and managed with Mrs. Hollander at the helm. The company has 5 manufacturing and 2 distribution/sales facilities, employing around 700 people, with revenues of $168m in 2010, always very profitable. The best-known brands are Omega and Newport, and many other manufacturers supply products for the Omega catalog that is on every engineer's shelf. Omega has always had a different service model with emphasis on providing high levels of service, quality, availability, customization and speed of delivery which has achieved very high levels of repeat business. "Made in the U.S.A." was the company's basic, unshakeable standard.

I must tell you, over the past several years when I retired and started writing my JimPinto.com eNews, after each one was published, I always got a personal feedback email from Betty Hollander. It was some insight or comment, giving me the positive feedback and the feeling that someone was listening and it made a difference.

After my recent bucket-list trips this summer to Brazil, Peru and Australia, after I sent out my July eNews, I did not receive my usual feedback from Betty Hollander. Then I learned that Spectris, the UK-based instrumentation and controls mini-conglomerate, had acquired Omega Engineering for $475m, its largest acquisition ever. I immediately sent an email to Betty Hollander, telling her I was surprised and pleased that she had finally sold Omega, and I hoped she was now ready to "retire" as I had done. Imagine my shock when my friend, Frank Williams, also a long-time employee of Action Instruments, informed me that Betty Hollander had died. I was numb with shock at the loss of my friend. I mourn her loss with sadness and many remembrances of the times we met and talked and hugged when we said goodbye.

Betty Hollander was born on January 13, 1930. In 1952, she married Milton Hollander, her best friend since high school, beginning a 58-year marriage of extraordinary mutual devotion and loving partnership. As founder, CEO and Chairwoman of Omega Betty had become known as one of the world's leading female entrepreneurs and industrialists, but had always listed her main occupation as "wife and Mother", insisting these were her most important roles. In later years, she happily added "grandmother."

The Hollanders' have always been known for their entrepreneurship and innovation. Betty Hollander was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Bridgeport, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University and Stevens Institute of Technology. But the Hollanders have always been very private people and have shunned the limelight of awards that would have drawn attention to their philanthropy.

My friend Betty Hollander passed away at the age of 81 on Thursday, April 7, 2011. I mourn her loss.

Click Stamford, CT. Advocate - Betty Ruth Hollander

Click Hollander Family Donates Buildings In Hartford, But Have Low-Profile

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GlobalSpec Web Conference, September 28th, 2011

GlobalSpec is the leading specialized vertical search, information services, e-publishing and online events company serving the engineering, technical and industrial communities. SpecSearch®, GlobalSpec's trademarked search technology, allows users to search by specification more than 186,000,000 parts, in 2,300,000 product families, from more than 23,000 suppliers.

GlobalSpec users benefit from domain-expert search engines, helping them search for and locate products and services, learn about suppliers and access comprehensive technical content. Their web-based events provide all of this in a one-day live conference without a pricey registration fee, travel or lodging expenses. Conference-goers gain more than they can get from any traditional trade show. Within the online environment, networking with suppliers and peers is as simple as an instant message or the exchange of a v-card. Plus you can easily gather valuable resources like white papers, tech articles, and data sheets in your online briefcase (which will never get heavy).

GlobalSpec's next web-based eEvent is their "Industrial Automation & Robotic Systems" Conference and on-line Trade Show is on 28 September 2011. I am honored to participate as keynote speaker. Here are extracts from their latest Press Release on this eEvent:

    "Technology futurist, Jim Pinto, will set the pace for GlobalSpec Industrial Automation & Robotic Systems online trade show event.

    "Jim Pinto's broad experience and clear grasp of business evolution have made him a sought-after speaker on the subject of global futures, framing manufacturing, economic and business trends in terms that are both pragmatic, and rationally optimistic.

    "At 12:00 pm Eastern Time on September 28th, Mr. Pinto will be speaking to industry professionals across the country and around the world.

    "This keynote address will be one of several presentations in an agenda that covers leading trends in the Industrial Automation & Robotic Systems marketplace. Like open architectures that provide the interoperability needed to exchange information across all domains, while mobile information systems - based on consumer electronic devices such as iPhones and Blackberrys - allow follow-the-sun maintenance service.

    "GlobalSpec's FREE online event will have leading edge presentations, Q&A sessions, and an exhibit floor packed with the latest technology offerings, new products and more, presented by thought leaders in the areas of motors & drives; sensors & networking; industrial robots; and programming & control."

When: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 12:00 pm USA Eastern Time
What: The Future of Global Automation & Robotics
Register Online: http://www.globalspec.com/events/eventdetails?eventId=88
Contact: Steve Esker, GlobalSpec, email: sesker@globalspec.com
Phone: 518-880-0200 x5447

Hey, wherever you are in the world, it's easy to join this exciting eEvent! I'd like to e-meet you there.

Click Wikipedia - About GlobalSpec

Click GlobalSpec - The Engineering Search Engine

Click Business Week: GlobalSpec, Inc - Company Information

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Industrial Automation - Past, Present & Future

I thought you might enjoy a summary of an article which has just been published (September 2011) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Canadian magazine, "Manufacturing Automation".

When Manufacturing AUTOMATION started a quarter century ago, industrial automation was in its heyday. Business was booming and the annual ISA show was a worldwide attraction for the instrumentation, controls and automation industry - with attendance in the tens of thousands. Today, by contrast, the automation business in the US is relatively stagnant and the annual ISA show has shrunk to a fraction of its former size; this year, it is just a technical conference.

After a couple of years of recession, the automation majors have returned to profitability with some growth, but they remain cautious in an uncertain financial environment.

Where will the industry be tomorrow? Let's review and prognosticate.

Since automation is such a fragmented business, all of the larger (multibillion-dollar) companies are mostly a conglomeration of products and services; each product segment generates a relatively small volume, but lumped together they form sizable businesses.

There are few companies that get beyond $50-$100 million before they are sold to a larger conglomerate. There are less than a handful of companies that started in the past 25 years that still survive as independents, mostly in the $30-50 million range of annual revenues.

It may be useful to end this rear-view-mirror appraisal with a glimpse towards what automation will be like in the next quarter century.

Today, automation growth is occurring primarily in international markets where new factories and plants are being built. In a tough, global environment, organic growth will not come easily, and the current crop of Top-10 automation majors will shrink by acquisitions and mergers. As China and India advance, expect one or both countries to make major automation acquisitions to enter the U.S. and European markets.

Today's factories and process plants are still a mess of conventional wiring, so it's an easy extrapolation to forecast the continued growth of industrial wireless. The inflection point will arrive when one of the automation majors recognizes that the high gross margins of conventional product pricing are producing only incremental revenues and profit growth. The companies that can yield low-cost industrial wireless will be rewarded with significant growth surges.

Today's new products and services produce relatively small productivity gains by comparison and, therefore, produce only incremental growth. Substantial productivity increase with resultant revenue growth is overdue in the automation arena - look for it to break through in the next decade and quarter century.

Who knows - the new growth may come from completely new directions, such as complex-adaptive-systems, bio-chemical electronics or tiny nanotechnology sensors.

Happily, there are startups and visionaries who recognize the possibilities - and they will become the new leaders of tomorrow.

Click Manufacturing Automation Digital Edition

Click Mfg. Automation - Industrial Automation, Past, Present & Future

Click A short history of Automation growth

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Manufacturing Creates Wealth

Politicians keep insisting that America must get back to creating wealth. But they want to do it by getting Americans to borrow more money to buy more "stuff", most of which is made offshore. Increasing consumer debt to increase consumption does not create wealth. It's consumption of wealth, without replacing it.

There are only three sources of wealth: natural resources, labor and knowledge. Natural resources (oil, minerals and the like) are tied to geography. The largest transfer of wealth in human history occurred within the past half-century, from countries that had generated wealth through productive knowledge, innovation and enterprise, to areas that had little else than their oil.

Service industries and government jobs do not increase wealth - ?they just circulate money. Manufacturing creates wealth by taking goods of lower value, adding knowledge and labor, and creating higher value. Mining and farming create wealth for the same reasons.

Knowledge and innovation are the key ingredients for productivity and wealth generation. Through inexpensive, universal communications, knowledge-based work is migrating worldwide to the highest-quality, lowest-cost providers. Productivity has become a fierce, head-to-head competition between regions and nations for the single reason that it is the source of the wealth, the key to improvements in living standards. Those who can produce cheaper, faster, better - win!

Manufactured goods dominate foreign trade and U.S. factories manage to make more goods with fewer workers. What's changed is that they have abandoned products with thin profit margins, like consumer electronics, toys and shoes. They've ceded that sector to China and other emerging nations with low labor costs and low profit-margin requirements. Instead, American factories are focused upon more complex goods requiring specialized labor and generating higher margins.

Large multinational conglomerates have created the negative image of manufacturing. These companies have no loyalty and have proved that they will close down a plant and outsource products to foreign countries without hesitation. In America, they lead a relentless effort to reduce the wages of their workers and break the unions. They continue to outsource products and complete plants, and seem to be totally indifferent to the future of U.S. manufacturing.

Manufacturing is the foundation of economic growth, the key to higher living standards and the future of the middle class. In the US, this recognition is generating the re-birth of manufacturing.

Click Automation World August 2011 ?- Creating Wealth

Click Manufacturing Creates Wealth

Click Work That Creates Real Wealth

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Intel Solution Brief - The Connected Factory

I recently completed a "white-paper" for INTEL, discussing the growth of standard computing and communications architectures in the industrial factory automation and process controls environments.

Here is a summary - you can download a pdf copy of the complete paper (web link below).

The industrial automation business is changing rapidly. Manufacturing has become more competitive as extremely agile and low-cost producers undercut long-established vendors. Customers meanwhile require ever-faster innovation and shorter product cycles, something most leading manufacturers cannot easily deliver. These trends suggest that new and more agile processes are needed - now.

What’s coming is the connected factory, with seamless connectivity between everything in the factory with distributed, intelligent, autonomous I/O. The connected factory delivers a more robust level of performance, greater process efficiency and wider agility in operations to provide seamless operations in changing global conditions.

The large, centralized production plant is a thing of the past. The factory of the future will be small, movable (to where the resources are, and where the customers are). In the old days, this was not done because of localized know-how and investments in equipment, technology and trained personnel. Today, those things are available globally. Services migrate worldwide to the best, low-cost providers. Knowledge moves easily and can be transferred anywhere. These processes move more easily if automation systems are based on open systems that all use the same computing and communications architectures.

Initiatives in security and low-cost/low-power processors will generate significant new growth at all levels of the automation pyramid during the next 3-5 years. Standard computer/network architectures will spread into all corners of the factory and plant floor.

In the 5-10 years timeframe, industrial automation systems will shift from deterministic, hierarchical type controls towards smaller, more distributed processing and intelligent, autonomous I/O. This will bring major advantages such as robust system performance, predictive diagnostics, and the ability to operate seamlessly with multiple device networks.

Billions of intelligent connected devices will need to communicate with other machines, and with the cloud. Intel is broadening the traditional context of machine-to-machine computing by adding capabilities that will enable connected devices to interact intelligently over a network.

Click How Technology Trends are Reshaping the Way Things Get Made
Intel Solution Brief (Jim Pinto) - The Connected Factory

Click INTEL - Intelligent Connectivity - Solution Briefs

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eFeedback

Mark A. Fee [mark@quantumautomation.com] objected to my praise of Peru and Australia for having compulsory voting:
    "The First Amendment protects free speech, which encompasses the right to both speak or alternatively NOT speak. Compulsory voting would violate the protection against compelled expression.

    "Compulsory voting requirements would violate every libertarian ideal held in this country for over 200 years. The REAL reason people don't vote is because the political scene is viewed an ineffective wasteland, a worthless selection between Frick & Frack, where the cherished ideal of the 'citizen statesman' has long been abandoned for liberalism, cronyism, handouts and lobbying.

    "You write as if people don't know how to vote: they do, but are repulsed by the thought."

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Michael A. Marullo [mam@infonetrix.com] welcomes me to the iWorld of Apples and Macs:

    "I became a Mac convert way back in 1988. When I saw what it could do I was sold. I bought my first Mac (SE) and an Apple laser printer.

    I've been hooked ever since and have owned more than a dozen Macs to date - plus an iPad2, and soon an iPhone5!

    "I've never been a 'militant' Mac user (i.e., those pledged to the utter and complete destruction of Microsoft!), but I do think it's sad that so much of the world is tied to Windows - a decidedly inferior operating system in so many ways!

    "It has also become clear that Microsoft is purposely holding back on Mac Office features as the last straw for blocking Apple's takeover of the entire computing, communications and entertainment experience. Lately I've been hoping that Apple would turn its attention to creating an alternative to MS-Office. But, with the new challenges of Jobs' departure my hopes are waning.

    "With Steve Jobs leaving the public scene, I feel that we are losing a very important piece of our future. For me, he epitomizes everything that is right about America, which is also (unfortunately) in dangerously short supply these days. To say that he will be missed seems so terribly insufficient."

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Allan Ekstrom [allanekstrom@sbcglobal.net] sent this brief message from his iPad:

    "Jim, I enjoyed reading about your latest bucket-list trip. I shared it with my wife. Now she wants to go to Peru!"

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