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Ain’t No Party Like An Avanceon Party

On Saturday, January 30th, Avanceon employees gathered at Valley Forge Casino for one of the best attended holiday parties in company history. Drinks were imbibed. Money was won and lost. The dance floor was dominated. And the Avanceon “band” made its debut appearance.
 
The event was organized by HR pro Sara, who followed up last year’s bash aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia with another exciting venue change. The evening kicked off with an open bar, followed by a buffet dinner. After dessert, comedian Adam Olenisis took to the stage for some laughs and “all in good fun” razzing. Olenisis exposed Steve as Bob Z.’s doppelganger, apparent from their preference for blue formalwear. The comedian inflamed (or perhaps started?) a rivalry between Scott from Food and Beverage and Tracey from CPG. Olensis also noted that some associates looked so much like rock stars, they could form a band, with Tracey on lead vocals, Alaina on tambourine, and Eric on bass. Did Evan and his date leave on speaking terms after Olenisis’ ribbing? Sources report that all is well.
 
At the Vault, the casino’s bar and club, rock band Stellar Mojo kept the dance floor jumping with a variety of crowd-pleasing covers, and the Avanceon crew threw down, pogo-ing to “Livin’ on a Prayer” and grooving to “Uptown Funk.” Brian challenged Sue to a dance-off. Who won? Everyone who witnessed their magnificent moves. In the wee hours, the casino called. Matt ended the night up over $100, one of the party’s biggest winners.
 
The fantastic turn-out, along with how many associates were still on the dancefloor or around the Roulette wheel very early Sunday morning, is a testament to how many genuine friendships thrive among Avanceon’s team. While some office parties become an obligation, Avanceon’s is a true celebration! Looking forward to next year!
 

Auto, Data, Help: Manufacturing’s “Puppy, Monkey, Baby?”

At this point most people have seen the notorious “Puppy, Monkey, Baby” Mountain Dew Kickstart commercial from the Super Bowl. It promotes a new beverage called Kickstart, which combines Mountain Dew, juice, and caffeine—a hybrid of three “awesome” things that are better together. The dancing, beverage-dispensing creature, with a puppy’s head, a monkey’s tail, and a baby’s chubby legs, has polarized audiences; some claim the surreal ad is “freaking out, scaring, and terrorizing” viewers, while others praise the impact of the marketing and the connection to the brand.
 
I’m not sure if “Puppy, Monkey, Baby” hit the mark from an advertising perspective, but it did make me think about three things that progressive manufacturing customers are focusing on in 2016. What will be our industry’s “three awesome things combined?” From our perspective, they are:
 
1. Next Level Automation – Many manufacturers automate their processes. In 2016 progressive manufacturers are driving complete system integration and capturing the most granular historical information possible about their process for the potential to model and analyze against.
 
2. Data Analytics – The concept of MES has existed for more than 20 years, allowing manufacturers to look back at what has happened, but not forward at what will happen. The shift in 2016 will be to use the volumes of data available to “predict the future” regarding where OEE will drop and where Quality will slip before it happens.
 
3. Help Where Needed – The previous two trends will inundate manufacturers with systems and technologies. Manufacturers will be tasked with revising and shifting their approach to maintenance, engineering, and IT support. The strategies of prior years are not viable today and progressive manufacturers are creating internal universities, entry level development programs, online training and tutorials, tailored external support programs, and an overall commitment to individual growth.
 
For us “Auto, Data, Help” is the 2016 “Puppy, Monkey, Baby” of our industry. They are three things that, when combined, can increase your level of manufacturing “awesomeness.”
 
That’s what we see! What do you think the “Puppy, Monkey, Baby?” of 2016 is for your company?
 

Dangerous Liaisons?

The fact is, in an engineered control system it is dangerous not to have liaisons. Here are the design engineers. There are the programmers. Each working efficiently in parallel. However, leave out the liaison and a project culminates in a flurry of confusion and the end game becomes a race to repair wrong assumptions, unshared modifications, and uncommunicated customer requests.
 
The key only turns in systems that are truly integrated. Design and control efforts are only really integrated with liaisons—conscious, systematic communication that builds an information bridge between two disciplines. This occurs on two levels. Often an individual engineer who is both design and control-savvy plays the part of the liaison. This pivotal person is on the alert for changes and disseminates critical information across the design and control cubicles. But beyond the individual liaison, what if young engineers were cross-trained, exceptionally skilled programmers who are just as savvyin panel or P&ID design? With these valuable players in place, you now have assembled a project team which is inherently self-aware of the prerequisites for success in both design and control.
 

Standards and Projects: Separate but Connected

Has a client ever told you, “We would like to develop our standards while executing this project?” This statement is usually followed by the assertion that the project timeline will not change, and that improved standards will in fact speed the project toward its deadline.
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. Projects have an installation target date, while standards development requires many levels of discussion, agreement and buy-in. The standards development team is then challenged to meet their timeline for definitions and sample code.
 
It’s true that once standards are developed, an efficient path toward a project due date can be developed utilizing these standards. However, when you mix the two, the standards become less defined and more subject to changes while the concentration of development efforts eventually are pulled into the race to complete the project on time.
 
Astute technical managers realize the two worlds are very connected, but at the same time must be managed differently. Standards development should be separated from the project itself; then all parties can decide if the project deadline will be determined upon standards approvals, or if the project can proceed without full standards.
 
Trying to manage standards and projects simultaneously can lead to murky standards and a rushed project. But you’re too sharp to let that happen to you, aren’t you?