Author Archive | Ed Diehl

Get actionable data as fresh as today’s news

I was gathering some recyclables up at home this weekend and I picked up a newspaper from May 14, 2016 – exactly one month old. Something compelled me to open it up and page through it: national election updates, stock market prices, sports updates, international events.

Everything in that paper was now outdated and surpassed by more recent events. It was completely useless for me today.

How many businesses run their operations using month old data? Compile a month’s worth of data (after waiting for two weeks to get it entered), review, reconcile, publish. By then you are looking at data which is up to 6 weeks old! It’s too late to fix any problems. How much money and productivity are lost and resources wasted because we are using outdated information to manage our companies? I call this “Management by Old Newspaper”.

We developed Wave7 to eliminate the old newspaper style of management. Wave7 monitors the health and performance of assets in real-time. You can monitor equipment performance up to the minute, evaluate and assess it, and adjust tomorrow’s plans as needed. And with our predictive analytics engine, you can take preventative action regarding an impending problem, as Wave7 will alert your team immediately so they can respond before the downtime event.

One of our customers has assets all over the world. Once in a while they would have a ‘situation’; a bad situation that would result in lost production. “What happened? Why did it happen? And why am I finding out 3 weeks later?”

Now, with Wave7 installed on each asset, the customer can monitor the assets in real time from his smartphone, wherever he is and wherever the assets are. Now, when a ‘situation’ happens he is notified immediately; Wave7 sends him a text message. Using our event-driven DVR feature, he can replay the event to see exactly what happened in the minutes leading up to, and right after, the event. Working with his team, they can quickly assess the situation and develop a recovery plan.

Wave7 Easy Actionable Data Wave7 makes condition monitoring easy. In a world of complicated historians, transaction managers and enterprise-wide solutions, we are the Easy Button. Start with one asset and grow from there, adding assets as it makes sense. There is zero infrastructure required, so the starting costs are low.

Contact Wave7 today to cover your assets, and ride the Wave!

Our mission statement guides our automation solutions

I was talking to a friend the other day, and the topic of mission statements came up. “What’s your mission statement?” he blurted out, expecting to catch me off guard and stumble over my own company’s mission. Well, I didn’t stumble, reciting it right back to him. He was impressed, and admitted that he didn’t know his own company’s mission statement.

I don’t expect our team to recite our company’s mission statement from memory. What I do expect, however, is that we live the spirit of our mission statement as we develop and implement automation solutions. Everything we want to be for our customers is captured in that one sentence.

When we put our mission statement together a few years ago, we purposely chose every word we used. We were not trying to redefine ourselves; rather, we were trying to capture – simply and clearly – who we are.

The Concept Systems mission statement:

Team with our customers to achieve manufacturing excellence by delivering the right automation solutions. Continue Reading →

When will we see more four-year U.S. degrees in automation engineering?

If Americans want to strengthen our manufacturing base, we need more engineering graduates who are focused on automation.

project-phasebIf Americans want to strengthen our manufacturing base, we need more engineering graduates who are focused on automation. Many schools have degrees that touch on the needs of manufacturing, but they don’t really do a deep dive into automation.

To give you a feel for the current state of affairs, when I typed into Google search “list of universities with automation degrees,” Google’s response was, “Did you mean ‘list of universities with automotive degrees?'” Then there were two ad links for automotive programs before an automation program was even listed. Not a good sign.

From my experience, many members of the higher education establishment view automation as an associate’s degree, technician-level program. They are underestimating the complexity of designing and integrating automated systems on a plant-wide basis. Automation is more than just programming or electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. It is all of these and more.

A couple of years ago, I attended a university dinner and was speaking to the dean of engineering at a major public university whose engineering program is highly regarded. I asked him why they haven’t added an automation engineering degree, or at least some related classes, to their undergraduate engineering program. He dismissively responded that automation was covered by the local community college, so the university didn’t need to provide that. What the local community college was offering was a program to train technicians to program and troubleshoot automated equipment. It wasn’t teaching how to design and integrate automation systems in a complex industrial environment.
Continue Reading →

Concept Systems receives MECOP 10-year Sponsor Award

Ed Diehl, President and co-Founder of Concept Systems; Gary Petersen, MECOP Executive Director; Jamie Diehl, former VP of HR & Recruiting at Concept Systems and instrumental in forming our partnership with MECOP.

Ed Diehl, President and co-Founder of Concept Systems; Gary Petersen, MECOP Executive Director; Jamie Diehl, former VP of HR & Recruiting at Concept Systems and instrumental in forming our partnership with MECOP.

In Oregon, the Multiple-Engineering Cooperative offers students real-life experiences in an engineering environment before graduation. At the recent 38th Annual MECOP banquet, Concept Systems accepted the 10-year Sponsor Award.

MECOP is a cooperative between Oregon universities (Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Tech and The University of Portland) and industry and provides the students work internships while they are finishing up their degrees.

Unique among cooperative programs, MECOP and the Civil Engineering Cooperative Program demonstrate the power of an effective business/education partnership. Member companies voluntarily assess themselves to support the programs that create opportunities for interaction between industry, the university and its students. Universities often adjust their curriculum based on recommendations made by the industry partners, which contributes to continual improvement. Continue Reading →

Automating the Manufacturing White Space

iStock_000008833592Large I’m an engineer at heart. I love to solve technical challenges. When I walk through a modern factory I’m looking for just that: challenges to solve. Most factories today have done an admirable job of automating their primary processes. When I visit factories, I see machine centers humming away, dutifully performing the tasks they have been designed to do. But when I look closer I still see challenges. Almost every factory I work with is still operating with automation silos – highly efficient and productive islands of automation that are not connected, and whose inputs and outputs are still manual. I call the space between the automation silos the Manufacturing White Space. And it is ripe for automation.

In the discipline of process management, this “white space” is where important handoffs happen. It is also where many organizations have the greatest potential for improvement. The manufacturing white space is chock full of people – people handling product and people handling information. And anywhere a manufacturer has people touching product or dealing with information, a manufacturer has a candidate for automation. Continue Reading →

How Automation and Control System Integrators can help OEMs

Long before I started Concept Systems with my partners, I worked for an OEM. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and although it has many meanings, in this context I mean a designer and builder of automation, manufacturing and process equipment for the factory floor. While my current business, control systems integration, is related, the two are distinctly different – and often complementary.

OEMs are typically focused on a particular industry and on particular products and technologies. When they do branch out it is with the intention of introducing a new product, something that can then be included as one of their standard offerings. But even when this happens, they rarely stray far from those industries and technologies they’re familiar with.

An automation and control systems integrator is a different animal. We see ourselves as technology experts and risk managers. We provide control, information and automation solutions to customers across many industries and in many applications. Continue Reading →