JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 135 : 20 October 2003

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

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Automation Unplugged: Technology Trends - Gee Whiz!

The new Pinto book is ready! I'm delighted with the way it looks! My son, Chris Pinto (now in digital movies) did the cover art - thanks Chris! My thanks to Lois Ferson and the ISA team for producing superb quality, on time! And Chip Lee, ISA Publications Director has promised to make it a best seller!

"Automation Unplugged" will be on the bookstands at ISA Expo, Houston, TX. October 21-23, 2003. I will be there, at the bookstore presentation room, at the Reliant Center, 10:00 to 10:30 am, Tuesday 21 Oct. 2003. Come touch....

Here is the Table of Contents for Section 2 -
The Future of Automation Technology - Gee Whiz!

  • Introduction: by Bud Keyes, Senior VP, Emerson Process
  • Instrumentation & Control on the Frontiers of a New Millennium
  • New technology, new approaches are needed
  • The Technology Laws
  • Distributed & Grid Computing
  • The Pervasive Internet
  • Intelligent Connected Appliances
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Networked, Intelligent I/O - Truly Distributed Control
  • Fully automated factories
  • Nanotech & self-organizing systems
  • Intelligent robots will be everywhere
  • Stephen Wolfram’s "New Science"
"Automation Unplugged" is now available online from the ISA website and others (see web links below). Books will be shipping this week.

Click Read "Automation Unplugged" - Complete Table of Contents

Click Buy the book on the ISA website

Click Amazon.com is already accepting advance orders

Click AutomationTechies.com - taking orders

Click Readout - UK and Europe shipments

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GE - make it big, buy it big, or sell it

In just the past few weeks, GE acquired Universal Entertainment from Vivendi, bought Finnish medical device maker Instrumentarium and announced the $9.5bn acquisition of British medical imaging firm Amersham. Combined with its current medical systems operations, GE's combined revenue in its Healthcare Technologies will be nearly $13 billion in 2003. The combination of NBC and Universal are also on track for $13 billion this year.

At the same time, GE has begun to shift away from specialized insurance and further into commercial and consumer lending. And they sold of two of its chemicals unit.

Several years ago, Jack Welch inserted a basic strategic drive into GE that remains a vital part of its makeup - every business GE business must be No. 1 or No. 2 in its market, or it will be sold. Current GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt learned well from his old guru - the strategy has become "make it big, buy it big or sell it." And 2003 has been the transition year for that strategy.

Industrial automation is GE's big bugaboo. It is virtually impossible for GE to become a No. 1 or No. 2 in such a fragmented marketplace. After its thwarted acquisition of Honeywell, GE is trying hard to look at segments, to see if it can build leadership that way. In the past couple of years, they bought several small (for GE) companies (see eNews June 24, 2003 - web link below), hoping to build that portfolio into leadership through the back door.

In that mode, look for GE to be a major bidder for Honeywell IS (PS: now known as Process Systems), and any miscellaneous Invensys companies that are currently on the block, plus Foxboro and Wonderware too, which "are not for sale".

Click Immelt's Big Picture

Click GE's 2003 Playbook

Click GE-Industrial acquisitions - strategic mis-direction

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ABB - good progress, but the worst is not over

ABB should make a profit this year, but has not yet reached its worst point - according to CEO Juergen Dormann. And the expected profit will be recorded "only if divestments go according to plan". ABB's earnings this year will still be eaten away by losses from the business it is exiting.

With 100,000 employees (from more than double that at its peak) ABB is slimming down to focus on automation and power technologies. ABB is trying to reduce its debt burden from $8.3 bn to $6.5 bn through selling off most of its oil, gas and petrochemicals business. And it will raise around $1 billion with its building systems business which is being broken up and sold piecemeal.

Several people pounced on an interesting discrepancy: the Morgan Stanley numbers showing market shares of the major process automation vendors in 2002 (quoted in eNews Sept. 11, 2003) put Emerson in the lead, with ABB #3 after Honeywell. But several ABB people boasted that Automation Research (ARC) studies had put ABB in the top spot for DCS market shares, followed by Honeywell, Invensys and then Emerson. My view: They're all neck and neck - it all depends on who's doing the counting.

What matters is the CHANGE in market shares: who is hot and who's not. Some companies are milking their old installed base (it's difficult to change DCS vendors mid-stream). Look for new product announcements, development budgets, sales & marketing strength, fundamental profitability - and strong, committed management.

Click ABB sees full-yr profit, but worst not over

Click Major automation suppliers - rankings & market shares

Click Give us your comments & feedback on the ABB Weblog

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Cyberspace Atlas

We've all seen pictures of galaxies in the vastness of space. How about cyber-space? What does the Internet "look" like? Well, take a look at the Atlas of Cyberspaces (web link below). You'll find maps and graphic geographies of new Internet territories, the World-Wide Web and other emerging cyberspaces. You'll see several pages, covering different types of cyber landscapes.

These cyber maps have been created by 'cyber-explorers' from all corners of the world. They provide visual representations of digital landscapes, the links of global communications networks and vast online information resources. Like real-world maps, they help to navigate the new information landscapes. And they are truly beautiful!

Click The Atlas of Cyberspace

Click For real-world map lovers, a print edition of THE ATLAS OF CYBERSPACE is also available

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Political parties & labels confuse democracy

I've been asking friends and acquaintances to tell me what the real differences are between Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. I've got to tell you - no one, and I mean NO ONE, gave me a clear, cogent definition. I got "opinions" all over the map! Indeed, some definitions were totally reversed from others.

Some people are Republicans or Democrats because their family, peer group, region, social status are associated with that party; nothing else but tradition and habit. No ideology at all.

Some people when confronted come up with wisecrack definitions: Democrats come up with good things to do, Republicans figure out how to actually pay for those things. Democrats spend money on the poor, Republicans cut taxes for the rich. Republicans are strong on law and order, Democrats preach utopian socialism.

When it came to conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left, the story became even more strange. Are there any liberal Republicans? Or conservative Democrats? Is a left-wing Republican more to the left than a right-wing Democrat?

People insisted that conservatism is against government control of personal lives, whereas liberalism strives to achieve greater good through removing personal freedom. There seem to be more hawkish Republicans, more likely to accept war as a quick fix for complex international situations; Democrats tend to prefer war as a last resort. Some thought Republicans mostly have money. Democrats mostly are poor. Are there poor Republicans and rich Democrats? Oh yes, there are the Kennedys and some movie stars. But, who are the poor Republicans?

It turns out that presidential candidate General Wesley Clark was a registered Republican. But since he was opposed to Bush and could not run for President as a Republican, he switched to being a Democrat. Of course, people insist, he is a "centrist". And candidate Howard Dean is too "liberal" to be elected.

You have to register to vote. It seems usual to register as one of the major parties, unless you want to be an independent, which means you cannot make up your mind, or you may be a kook, or an extremist. One couple we know decided that he would register as a Democrat and she as a Republican, to stay balanced. Not a bad idea! As businessman, I was "expected" to register as a Republican. So I registered as a Democrat. Hey! But let me assure you - I'm a left-wing conservative Democrat.

Click Background of accepted US definitions

Click Democrats vs. Republicans: What DO they believe?

Click Quiz : Where do YOU fall on the liberal/conservative spectrum?

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Dave Brownlow [dave@davebrownlow.com] suggests that there is really only one political party in America:
    "The reason the two major parties are such a problem is that there is really only one party. One wing of the party is the "bad cop" and is openly socialist while the other plays the "good cop" and pretends to be in favor of capitalism. But the fact is, both wings of the party have the same goal; so the results are always the same no matter which candidate we vote for - more spending, more debt, more taxes, more regulation, more control, less freedom.

    "There is no measurable evidence that there is even the slightest difference in how our government is run regardless of whether the Republicans or the Democrats are in charge. Which leaves us with no real opposition in our government."

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Jim Hetzer [Rezteh@aol.com] proposes more tax incentives for equipment and job training:
    "The reason American workers can't compete is because companies in America have not been investing in training and equipment. They find it easier to move offshore for cheaper labor, more lax environmental rules, and often cheaper energy. It is more expensive to invest in new plants and training in the USA.

    "I suggest we roll back the recent income-tax and capital gains reductions, and substitute the following:

    1. 10% investment tax credit for equipment or training of workers. The money has to be spent in the USA, but the company ownership can originate anywhere.
    2. For every 2% reduction in energy, provide a 1% additional tax credit up to a maximum tax credit of 5%.
    3. For every 2% reduction in pollution, provide a 1% additional tax credit up to a maximum tax credit of 5%.
    This would provide incentives for investment, reduces our energy deficit, and will help reduce pollution while offsetting the costs of new equipment and new technology.

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Thomas D. Althouse [talthouse@afgd.ca], a Canadian, eh, on Dilbert:
    "Do you remember that quote about Art imitating Life? We who don't own the business where we work, who are not elected politician making decisions that effect our society, who are however one of the small cogs in the larger machine - must laugh at things that we have observed to relieve our frustration. Dilbert hits a chord with so many people because it is a mirror of many workplace conditions, and occurrences that we personally have observed.

    "Now the good part. We generally find the most humor in things that we find the most absurd. For an example let's take an extreme combination and think about it for a second: Imagine that the president of the company just came dancing through the middle of your office in a pink Tutu. Most people would find this image amusing and will start to grin just thinking about it. This means two things to us, a large group of people still recognize the absurdity of the comic strip situations and are still able to laugh and carry on with what they are doing, making our homes, companies, social groups and countries work.

    "The dysfunctional ones are the ones who no longer see the humor, or worse, still believe the absurd and go along with it. Are they helping our homes, companies, and countries?

    "Now back to the president in a pink Tutu..."

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