JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 136 : 3 November 2003


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

Contents:
Click on any item to jump directly to that item

Emerson - strong management drives performance

Emerson is the quintessential management-driven company. In a flat market, this company continues with good profit margins, and even some growth. With revenue of $13.8bn, profit 7.7% (operating margin 11.3%), consistent growth rate of 5-7% and a current market-cap of $23.5bn, Emerson is consistently the best-managed industrial automation leader.

The primary segments of Emerson's $14bn business are:

  • Process Control 24%
  • Industrial Automation 18%
  • Appliance & tools 24%
  • Electronics & Telecomm 18%
  • HVAC 18%
With sales of about $3.4bn in 2002, Emerson Process includes several other Emerson-owned companies related to process control. Together they offer virtually all of the devices, systems, software, and services that process end-users need to automate their plants. Products are evenly divided across measurement instruments, systems and software, valves and regulators, and services and solutions. The best know systems are PlantWeb and DeltaV, generating leading market-share for distributed controls.

Emerson has never been interested in growth for its own sake. It divests when profit is poor. For example, when HMI software leader Intellution became unprofitable, visionary founder Steve Rubin was exited, a new turnaround CEO was installed, and the company was sold to GE Fanuc. Emerson doesn't buy or keep declining businesses. And it only acquires pieces that represent a strategic fit.

Click Emerson - strong management drives performance
(From the book - "Automation Unplugged")

Click Emerson weblog - ready for your comments & input

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Automation Unplugged -
Industrial networks, this bus is for you

Chip Lee, ISA Director of Publication, has informed me that my book "Automation Unplugged" was the No. 1 best-seller at the ISA Expo 2003 in Houston. And the books are shipping now!

Hey! After your read the book, please visit Amazon.com and do a review (your honest opinion). Marketing guru Shari Worthington has already done the first review - thanks!

As chairman of ISA SP50 and IEC Fieldbus Standards Committees, Dick Caro has witnessed first-hand the petty politics of the fieldbus committees. Dick wrote the introduction to Section 4 - Industrial Networks, this bus is for you.

Here is the Table of Contents for Section 4 :

  • Introduction : By Dick Caro
  • Fieldbus - Neutral Instrumentation Vendorís Perspective
  • How do I catch the Fieldbus?
  • The Law of Open Systems Confusion
  • The Dichotomy of Open Standards
You might enjoy my own poetic musings on Fieldbus:
    Industrial networks bring lots of gains
    But that brings with it lots of games
    The fieldbus wars cause a lot of fuss
    The Users want an Open bus.

    The Vendors simply can't agree
    To make a fieldbus cheap, or free
    The committees they just twist and turn
    They argue out and then adjourn

    You've gotta read between the lines
    That Open and Closed are just designs
    That Users all for Open plead
    When Inter-op is what they need.

    De facto standards win all debates
    Ask Microsoft and Mr. Gates.

Automation Unplugged is now available online from the ISA website and several others (see web links below).

Click Read "Automation Unplugged" - Complete Table of Contents

Click Buy the book on the ISA website

Click AutomationTechies.com - taking orders

Click Amazon.com - buy with 1-click

Click Readout - UK and Europe shipments

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The ominous Chinese puzzle

In the midst of a serious worldwide economic decline, China has the fastest-growing economy - surpassing all other countries' boom-time records in recent history. US analysts figure that China's economy grew by 14% in the third quarter and will grow 11% in 2003, well beyond the latest official Chinese forecast of 8.2%.

This year, in mid-October, China put a man in space, only the third country to do that after the US and Russia. The Chinese people are naturally thrilled about their latest accomplishment. China has already used its own rockets to put satellites into orbit. But, this new-found prestige ominously reflects the reality that America's own space program is somewhat stymied, while China is quickly catching up.

With accident-prone US space shuttles grounded, many see China's new space capacity as a major security threat, taking the place of the old Soviet Union. But, it's not just about putting humans in space. China has the fast-growing ability to launch nuclear weapons on intercontinental missiles, and the capacity for global-positioning satellites that contribute significantly to military power. Clearly, China has already begun to utilize military surveillance.

China's rockets cost a fraction of the America shuttles. The Chinese orbital modules are expected to be components of a space station which could cost just a fraction of the American one. If, in the long run, China has more humans permanently living and working in space, this could seriously affect commercial and security aspects within just a few years. And who can control further militaristic advances?

The political and financial resources of American government are absorbed in controlling the chaos in Iraq and the mid-east. We have identified Syria, Iran and N. Korea as the "axis of evil". Who will protect democracy and freedom from the advancing power of China?

Click China's spy in the sky

Click China's space challenge

Click Fortune Mag: China Is Too Darn Hot!

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Computer-aided democracy?

The Florida "chad" debacle and the following election fiasco seemed to indicate a rapid push towards better voting machines. Electronic touch-screen voting seems the most technically feasible solution, which many parts of the country hastened to implement.

The US electronic vote-count is controlled by three major corporate players - Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia - with SAIC soon to be a fourth. These companies, all with close ties to the current administration, have been given billions of dollars to complete computerization of voting machines nation-wide by the 2004 election.

The touch-screen machines being deployed cannot be made to produce a paper record, and will not be able to do so until 2007. Without a paper validation of each vote, there is a significant risk that the electronic count can be rigged. I'm not suggesting that it WILL, just that it CAN. And most people recognize that if it can, it will.

If we don't assure touch-screen-voting-with-a-paper-trail, a significant risk factor will be added during the 2004 presidential election. Many, many people feel that it is crucial for the American public to mobilize to stop this danger.

Responsible citizens need to engage this problem to a sensible conclusion. There must not be even be the possibility of the nation being at risk for another clouded and controversial election process, presidential or otherwise.

Click All the President's Votes

Click Wired Mag: Did E-vote Firm Patch Election?

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San Diego Firestorm 2003

Everyone in the global village knew about the fires in California. My home in Scripps Ranch, San Diego was in the eye of the storm, and we received telephone calls and emails from all over the world asking whether we were affected. I thought I'd share my story with you.

At about 6:00 am on Sunday 26 Oct. 2003, when we turned on the TV, the fire was already big news. It had started late the previous evening some 25 miles away and spread quickly. By about 7:00 am it was uncomfortably close and we started to evacuate. By 8:00 am, homes were ablaze in Scripps Ranch, less than half a mile away. We left by about 9:15 am, and as we drove off with other evacuating cars, we could see flames behind us.

All the TV channels were broadcasting the deadly details. About 200 homes in Scripps Ranch had burned, and we watched anxiously hoping and praying that our home was spared, that we would NOT recognize our own homes on the screen. This was when I wished I had rigged up the web cam I bought years ago. And then I thought of telephoning my home number - and mercifully the answering machine responded with my own voice. After that, we kept calling home every few hours, while the fire continued its path of destruction. Large sections of San Diego were burning, as the fire and devastation expanded.

On Tuesday we were allowed back and fortunately our home was spared! The hill behind is scorched and some of the grass in our backyard is charred. But, amazingly, the fire stopped short of the house.

It turns out that Ed, a good neighbor, saved our home. When Ed heard that (because the widespread firestorm had taken many local firefighters to other areas) the response in our area may not be in time, he returned to protect his own home. Using his pool pump and its hose, he watered down his home. Then he saw the flames approaching over the hill behind our home, and directed his hose towards the fire, which stopped the flames short. But our backyard was ablaze, so Ed directed his pool hose into our yard and succeeded in dousing the flames. Our home was untouched!

Our neighbor Ed is our hero!

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eFeedback

Steve Miller [bulfrog7@aol.com] from Des Moines, Iowa, provides these cogent comments:
    "Jefferson feared the greatest threat to American democracy was the dictator, whereas John Adams believed the far greater threat was the aristocracy. It appears Adams was right. With few exceptions, we are ruled by an "elected" aristocracy, be it Democrat or Republican. The shrinking of the middle class is proof. We as a country can return to our populist roots and rekindle the vision of meritocracy, not aristocracy. However, history favors the aristocrat. Only a free, educated and courageous people can move it in the other direction.

    "David McCullough's excellent biography on John Adams expounds on the role of aristocracy and how our founding fathers designed a system to help guard against "the few". After re-reading this, you will recognize that it is not so much about the people, but about the system. We are supposed to have a system of checks and balances. For some reason, this is not working right now. Why not? I don't know. But I think a big part of it is big business and big money. This is the modern day equivalent of the "foreign powers" that Adams thought might corrupt our election processes."

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Tip Johnson [Tip_Johnson@msn.com] addresses the confusion about political labels:
    "I looked at the links on Democrat/Republican/Liberal/Conservative and was disappointed that there was no explanation on Left/Right. If I remember correctly, Left/Right came from a meeting held after the French Revolution where the Liberals and Socialists sat on the left side of the dais and the Conservatives, Fascists, and Royalists sat on the right. So I don't really see Left/Right as a scale of one's political position, although I realize that is its common usage. In fact I consider Socialists to be conservatives, since they believe in wage and price controls. I took the Left/Right Quiz and it said that I was a Liberal who is actually more liberal than those to the left of me.

    "A couple of years ago I watched a meeting of the Conservative Convention on C-SPAN hosted by Bob Novak; Sam Donaldson was invited as the token Liberal (a surprise to me). Bob gets up an reads off a list of 20 political issues and says if Sam disagrees with Bob's position on any of those 20 issues, it would prove that Sam is a Liberal. Sam, giving what I consider to be the perfect Liberal retort, says the fact that Bob has a list of 20 positions that one must agree with in order to be considered a Conservative just proves that Bob is a Conservative, not that one who disagrees is a Liberal.

    "Have you noticed during a Republican presidential primary that each candidate claims he is the only true Conservative and all the other candidates are really Liberals?"

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Richard C. Wargo [rwargo@specllc.com] regarding Dick Morley's sentiments about manufacturing being driven offshore by NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) attitudes:
    "John Brewster (eNews Oct. 15, 2003) is only partially correct when he says that cities would love to have new manufacturing (actually, he said assembly) facilities in their domains. It is true that the politicians would love to have more industrial facilities in their tax districts. Non-residential taxation is a highly politically attractive means for a politician to get his/her hands on more money. Yes, most of the time tax incentives have to be given, but in almost all cases they are balanced by PILOTs (Payments In Lieu of Taxes). Also the politically attractive message of "look, we brought you more jobs" is always one politicians aspire to say. But, I would wager, you would find that the promises that are so grandly given at ground-breaking are conveniently forgotten later down the road when reality intrudes.

    "If one were to ask the inhabitants of the cities and not the politicians, one would still encounter a stiff NIMBY attitude. Yet another example of discontinuity between those "served" by the politicians, and the politicians themselves."

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