This post is authored by Robert E. Lindeman, President of ISA 2012.
As the 2012 ISA President, I am gratified to report that ISA will enter the new year as a more capable, industry-significant, globally engaged, and member-focused organization.
We’ve made real headway in 2012, building on our visionary strategic plan, and making the sound decisions that position our Society for long-term growth and success.
While some of the initiatives to reinvigorate ISA’s growth are early in their implementation, indications of forward momentum are remarkable and numerous.
When comparing 2012 to-date with the same period in 2011:
- ISA membership is up nearly 17 percent.
- ISA’s open enrollment training registrations—which include classroom courses; webinars; and online, instructor-assisted courses—are up 31 percent, and are their highest in the past five years.
- New applications for Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) certification testing has increased 19 percent, and renewing CAP applications are up 11 percent. Results in both areas are the highest since 2007.
- New applications for Certified Control Systems Technician® (CCST®) certification testing have increased 10 percent.
- Revenue from product downloads on isa.org is up more than 22 percent.
Beyond these immediate signs of progress, ISA took bold steps in 2012 to advance our association and the industry we serve for the years and decades ahead, and to raise awareness of our expertise in addressing and solving critical industry challenges. Among these steps included:
- Forging numerous, far-reaching private and public partnerships to strengthen and establish automation and control instruction, workforce development, and degree programs throughout the world.
- Taking an active role in global partnership initiatives and international conferences to stimulate growth and innovation in worldwide manufacturing, and to demonstrate how automation technology and workforce proficiency improve industry safety, reliability, and efficiency.
- Consulting with federal homeland security and national security officials at the White House, urging them to prepare for potential cyberattack on the nation’s infrastructure. As a result of these meetings—facilitated by our affiliate, the Automation Federation—the Obama administration is evaluating our ISA99 security standards for industrial automation and control systems as the basis for a national cybersecurity “best practices” template.
To provide additional illustration of our positive direction, I review, below, progress made in respect to the six objectives for the Society I established at the advent of my presidency.
Renew our emphasis on technical content
Providing high-quality technical content developed by our members and customers is fundamental to ISA’s mission. Technical content drives everything we do. It delivers the core value of membership; contributes directly to our standards development efforts; and comprises the basis of our training initiatives, publishing offerings, conferences, and symposia.
In 2012, we furnished perhaps the most diverse and high-value spectrum of technical content ever, and expanded access to it through new avenues.
More than 1,200 automation professionals joined us in Orlando, Florida, for ISA Automation Week 2012—attending more than 60 technical sessions and a multitude of presentations, training courses, and committee and leadership meetings.
The 57th Analysis Division Symposium drew record attendance, and we attracted a significant increase in attendance through the combined, collaborative meeting of the 58th International Instrumentation Symposium and the Communications Symposium.
ISA published 13 new books in 2012, delivering fresh perspectives on and new approaches to key technical challenges. Technician series books sold very well throughout the year, as sales were likely boosted by ISA’s new technician training program: ISA Technician Training Boot Camp.
To broaden access to our publications, we in 2012: began publishing books in Spanish and Chinese, started converting ISA publications to eBooks (for the Amazon Kindle® and the Apple iPAD®), and formed a partnership to supply ISA eBooks to academic libraries.
ISA Transactions, our journal of advances in the science and engineering of measurement and automation, earned its highest impact factor rating (a measure of the frequency in which the average article was referenced) ever, a 21 percent increase from the year before.
Our InTech® magazine continues to serve as the authoritative source of automation technology features and news, reflected in its strong readership and growing advertising revenue.
ISA Interchange, ISA’s active social media and blog site unveiled in 2011, is increasingly relied upon by automation professionals for rich and continually updated technical resources, and for information sharing, problem solving, and networking.
Reinforce standing as the source for authoritative standards and practices
ISA published 24 new or revised standards and technical reports in 2012, reinforcing its global reputation as the expert source for automation and control industry standards.
A highlight of the year was ISA’s hosting of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 65 Industrial Process Measurement, Control, and Automation Plenary meeting, which was held in conjunction with ISA Automation Week 2012. More than 100 automation experts from across the world attended the meeting, a gathering of the principal body on the international performance and safety standards used by automation and control end users, manufacturers, designers, and integrators. The event marked the first IEC TC65 Plenary in the US since 1998.
ISA and IEC TC65 have enjoyed a long and successful collaborative relationship. Many IEC standards, widely used globally, are based on original ISA standards pertaining to functional safety (ISA84), batch control (ISA88), enterprise-control system integration (ISA95), and control systems security (ISA99).
Included in the Plenary meeting was a one-day forum that featured presentations on ISA automation standards initiatives in alarm management, cybersecurity, procedural automation for continuous process operations, human-machine interface, and intelligent device management.
Also at the forum, ISA introduced its newest standards committee: ISA108, Intelligent Device Management, which was chartered by our Standards and Practices Board in August 2012. ISA108 defines standard templates of best practices and work processes for the design, development, installation, and use of diagnostic and other information provided by intelligent field devices in the process industries.
ISA’s Automation Standards Compliance Institute (ASCI), in 2012—through its ISA Security Compliance Institute (ISCI) and ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (ISA100 WCI)—continued to widen adoption of ISA’s industrial control system security specifications and ISA100 wireless standards.
In 2012, the Japanese government adopted ISCI’s ISASecure™ cybersecurityspecifications as a component of their critical infrastructure protection strategy, established a test lab in Tokyo, and will begin ISASecure certification testing by the end of 2013.
In 2013, ISCI will introduce a new IAC system-level ISASecure certification program to complement its internationally recognized ISASecure Embedded Device Security Assurance (EDSA) certification program.
The ISA100 WCI, in 2012, expanded the number of companies manufacturing interoperable wireless products in compliance with the ISA100 Wireless communication standard. New suppliers incorporating ISA100 Wireless technology into their products included Pepperl+Fuchs, Tyco/Scott Safety Technologies, Forbes Marshall, and GasSecure.
Also during 2012, CISCO extended the reach of its ISA100 Wireless mesh networks; 3eTI/Ultra Electronics demonstrated its military-grade gateway at ISA Automation Week 2012; and additional products from GE and Yokogawa achieved ISA100 Wireless Compliant™ certification.
The ISA100 WCI continues to develop complementary technologies to enhance the value of its ISA100 Wireless products. In October 2012, a successful interoperability trial for the institute’s Generic Client Interface (GCI) was conducted. The GCI establishes a consistent method for transmitting information through gateways.
In broadening its global outreach activities, the ISA100 WCI in 2012 hosted technology seminars in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, and conducted wireless interoperability demonstrations in Osaka, Japan; in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and in the Netherlands.
Enhance recognition as the leader in automation certification
ISA certification programs provide automation and control professionals with the third-party recognition to advance in their careers, and supply companies with documented evidence of their employees’ skills and competency.
As highlighted earlier, applications for CAP and CCST certification testing are trending higher than they have been over the past several years.
ISA is constantly updating our certification exams to reflect the changing workplace requirements for control systems technicians and automation professionals.
In 2012, we finalized our CCST Job Task Analysis Study, which called for updating the three levels of the CCST exam with new questions and domains. The new exams will be introduced in July 2013. We’re currently completing the first phase of the CAP Job Task Analysis Study to pinpoint updates to the CAP exam.
In May of 2012, the Manufacturing Institute reiterated its support of CAP and CCST certification programs in better preparing American workers for advancement in manufacturing jobs.
Establish undergraduate and graduate automation degree programs
The Automation Federation (AF), through its outstanding relationship-building efforts, secured two immensely valuable partnerships in 2012 designed to greatly expand access to automation instruction and career development resources throughout the world.
In May of 2012, AF announced that the American Association of Community Colleges has approved and will fully support the creation of a US Automation Community College Consortium in early 2013 to help educate and prepare the nation’s next generation of automation professionals.
The consortium will leverage AF’s Automation Competency Model (ACM), a framework defining the specific competencies needed to succeed in automation careers, to develop a two-year automation degree program at community colleges throughout the country.
Late this year, AF announced a partnership with the HAAS Technical Education Center (HTEC), a global leader in providing advanced manufacturing education. Through the alliance, HTEC will utilize the ACM as a framework for improving its educational methods and updating its worldwide automation manufacturing curricula and degree programs.
This venture holds significant promise as the HTEC educational network in the US and Canada incorporates 1,123 educational institutions, including 184 high schools, 222 vocational schools and career centers, 442 community colleges, and 275 colleges and universities. HTEC’s European network is comprised of more than 65 teaching institutions.
Also in 2012, AF accelerated its discussions with the Obama Administration on the importance of automation training in preparing the American workforce to compete for the high-skills, advanced manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow.
Strengthen training to meet individual and company needs
ISA-provided technician and automation training is widely recognized for its quality. We took great strides in 2012 to examine how we can make our training a more compelling value and more convenient to access. We’re taking steps to provide more flexible scheduling, pricing, and delivery; and to explore alternate methods, such as a mobile training “tour,” and self-paced and instructor-led web-based packages.
Our Technician Training Boot Camp program, which provides technicians with a week of lecture and real-world laboratory exercises, is building on its first-year success during 2011, and has added a new dimension to ISA’s technical skills curriculum. Classes are generally running at full capacity. In one instance during 2012, additional offerings were scheduled to accommodate wait-list overflow.
Taking a similar approach to automation training, in 2012 we introduced ISA’s Automation Engineering Survival Training, which combines a week of intensive instruction for automation engineers along with bonus features, such as a plant tour, technical library, and networking events. Our inaugural offering was conducted at near full capacity.
In 2012, ISA’s safety course series, traditionally a popular offering, was expanded by the addition of two new courses. We partnered with a third party to begin delivering a new fire and gas safety course; and, we developed a new one-day course—targeted to both engineers and technicians—covering the fundamentals of process safety that will debut in January 2013.
During the year, we developed and made available a new Spanish version of our online, instructor-assisted safety course, and translated our most popular safety certificate exam into Spanish.
We continue to examine new ways we can better meet individual and large-scale training needs and interests. In 2012 we introduced ISA TechTour, a new mobile training initiative that brings in-depth ISA technical training courses to cities where we have not previously offered training. Course participants living and working in or near cities on the TechTour “circuit” can attend the classes without the added expense of air travel and hotel stays, and limit time away from their jobs. We expect TechTour to play a larger role in our open enrollment strategy for 2013.
In addition, we’re increasingly partnering with corporations seeking to furnish comprehensive, convenient, onsite training for their technicians and automation engineers.
Improve service by revamping ISA’s online and operational infrastructure
At its essence, ISA exists to deliver tangible benefits to its members, and ISA’s website is generally our most visible and frequently used service resource. Beginning this year, ISA began a major infrastructure project of its association management system, also known as “back-end” operations, and website that, when completed in 2013, will remarkably improve member and customer service, relationship marketing, e-commerce, and social media integration.
ISA will unveil a new, modern website design that will be much easier to use and navigate through, more responsive to member and customer needs, and a more robust and effective online hub for participating in discussions and addressing challenges and solutions.
Clearly, ISA is an organization that’s proud of its past, but is firmly focused on the future. In setting the standard for automation and control, we’re determined to constantly raise the bar.
We face the changes and challenges before us head-on because they make us better and stronger. They’re catalysts for improving, for innovating, and for leading.
Evidence of new Society growth and new opportunities for all of us to learn, participate, and help shape the future of our profession and industry are all around us.
As my year as ISA president draws to a close, I encourage your greater involvement with your fellow members and association. Share your expertise, your leadership skills, and your insights. Together, we’ll not only grow, both personally and professionally, we’ll flourish.
Robert E. Lindeman
2012 ISA Society President