DARATECH Inc. (Cambridge, MA) is a market research and technology assessment firm that has specialized in CAD/CAM, CAE, EDM/PDM, CIM and computer graphics since 1979. Although best known for its CAD/CAM/CAE Strategy Workshops, held annually in Boston, DARATECH has developed an important venue specifically tailored for the plant design/plant management market.
After three years of hosting its Plant Design/Plant Management Automation Strategy Workshop during February in Boston, DARATECH moved this event for 1997 to the heart of the market, Houston, and was appropriately rewarded. Attendance more than doubled to 700 paid attendees, including several walk-ins, interestingly enticed by commercials on a local radio station.
The format was the traditional DARATECH conference style of vendor and user presentations that followed a single-track, supplemented by vendors in suites equipped for product/technology demonstrations. In the future the conference will likely be expanded to multiple tracks as users clamor for information on automation strategies appropriate to managing process plants through their lifecycle. The range of vendors also can be expected to increase as well.
For many years, most plant industry pundits have described the plant design/plant management automation market as being document centric. If the recent DARATECH conference is any measure—and we believe it is—the current moniker is finally data centric and those vendors that do not apply the required changes will not thrive of even survive. The same warning applies to users, but a lag period for automation adoption of several years is likely.
This DARATECH workshop proved that there is no shortage of effort for bringing current technologies into the downstream management of process plants. As proof, the major effort of Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (Allentown, PA) to implement an integrated automation strategy was well represented by presentations from Larry J. Killingsworth, manager of the company’s Electronic Asset Support Center and Joseph P. Morray, Jr., president of the consulting firm Trinity Technologies Corp. (Dover, MA).
Neither were the tales of effort and success limited to the traditional process plants. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Project (ITER) (San Diego, CA) and Chrysler Corp. (Detroit, MI), two major users of CCPlant from Dassault Systemes (Burbank, CA) and IBM Corp. (Armonk, NY), showed that tremendous value is to be gained by managing the lifecycle of plant projects, particularly when international efforts are involved, and the facilities that house major manufacturing equipment and assembly lines. These presentations and many others have raised the sights and set the standards for successes to be presented next year.
Vendors such as CADCentre (Cambridge, UK and Wilmington, DE.), CSA, Inc. (Marietta, GA) and EA Systems Inc. (Alameda, CA) have touted the data-centric approach to plant management for many years. The experience of these companies should be a nudge to other vendors and helpful to the users as more and more customer organizations strive to improve on plant operation and maintenance processes. We anticipate that a relationship recently announced between EA Systems Inc. and Icarus Corp. (Rockville, MD) should develop into an interesting story by this time next year. Icarus plans to integrate the functions of process design and plant design for Mitsubishi Chemical Americas (San Jose, CA).
In the future, we expect DARATECH will continue presenting strong programs with its traditional CAD/CAM/CAE workshops, and become more prominent in the demanding field of developing strategies for plant design and plant automation. We’ll see you in Houston next year.
Contact: DARATECH Inc. 617/354-2339. http:// www.daratech.com