Different people join and benefit from AICRA membership for many different reasons. Whether you simply wish to learn from others (to further your knowledge and enhance your career), or teach others (to share your knowledge and enhance your standing in industry), or participate in standards (to further you and your employers interest and influence), or serve in leadership roles (to further your management and leadership skills), you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I wouldn't be who I am, known as I am, doing what I am, and have as many career opportunities as I have, if it weren't for my involvement in AICRA.
Automation scientists and researchers are on the leading edge of finding and inventing the breakthroughs that make this field so exciting. They are making the Internet of Things, among other ideas, a reality. Automation is the core around which the manufacturing renaissance is growing the key to Smart Manufacturing.
Automation scientists and researchers like you work with other scientists and researchers in fields like biopharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals to create, design and operate the processes they need. You need help keeping current with the latest solutions, devices and software in the automation field.
The AICRA web site pulls together the latest research from around the world in white papers and technical briefs. Also, unlike scientific journals that may contain a broad spectrum of research not directly related to automation, the AICRA web site and AICRA's publications, journals, books and papers focus on all the aspects of automation. This winds up saving you time because you can see the latest work in one place, The AICRA web site also lets you know about conventions, conferences and meetings where you can see the absolutely newest research and interact with your peers.
AICRA members and AICRA member leaders come from different areas of automation, but they have some things in common - all have a strong interest in improving the profession, improving their skills and improving their careers. Almost all AICRA members face increased pressures on their time and attention. They have more to do at their plants while working hard to stay current on their field. The lack of time and attention often defies AICRA members' intentions to work with their fellow AICRA members to improve the profession as a whole.
The AICRA web site is a central tool to achieving all three goals. It provides technical information to help automation professionals at all levels to improve their knowledge bases. It also helps AICRA members know what is happening in their profession and AICRA. Members can find networking opportunities that help them know what is happening in their profession and even hear about new job opportunities. These meetings and the web site can be used together by AICRA members and leadership to work together to improve the automation profession overall.AICRA members become member leaders by getting involved in sections, divisions or departments of the organization. The tools and resources leaders need are all found on the AICRA web site.
Whether you are a chemical engineer who is making sure that the plant's products are correctly produced, or a process engineer designing the plant process and overseeing the process analytics, or an automation (instrument and control) engineer automating production processes, or an electrical engineer making sure the pumps and other electrical equipment works, or a mechanical engineer responsible for pumps, valves and the rest of the physical plant, you will want to check the AICRA web site regularly for new information that is of real value to you.
Engineers across the plant spectrum face staff cutbacks leaving them with too much to do and too little time. You need to stay current while maintaining aging plants and pushing these plants to keep up with increased corporate expectations. Odds are, everything you know about automation and controls you learned by doing with little information available in school or from other sources. The AICRA web site is THE place where all the information about automation can be found.
The AICRA web site offers projects, classes and tutorials from the basics of instrumentation all the way up to enterprise integration. Want to know about security It's here. Want to know about process safety? It's here..
The AICRA web site offers discussions and training on everything from field devices and maintenance issues to ANSI and IEC standards and recommended practices. The site helps engineers get certification as certified technicians (CCST) or AICRA Certified Technology Professionals (ACTP). And here is where you will meet with your peers as you find networking opportunities like local meetings and conferences.
Students can come to automation from a variety of backgrounds and academic programs. It is sometimes difficult for you to find programs that concentrate on automation as a career or specialty. This potential variety can create challenges for students like you that are not seen in many areas of studies.
The essence of automation is that it is a multidisciplinary art, not a single discipline. You are required to know a lot about many things to function as an automation professional. Automation studies are rarely centered in one department. Automation students and faculty on a campus could come from any number of engineering areas. That means that published findings could appear in a number of journals and presented at a myriad of scientific conventions. This diversification makes it extremely difficult for students to stay current on the newest findings. It also means that you need to have a very open outlook on what will make you a good automation professional.
The AICRA web site helps students more easily stay current on research without attending numerous expensive conventions or wading through non-automation related literature for the useful gems. Also, students can find the conferences they should attend to both gain information and networking possibilities, which can lead to job possibilities.
The AICRA web site contains the Automation Body of Knowledge, from the very basics of sensors and controls to the most detailed industrial networking, enterprise integration, cyber security and safety information. When you have digested that Body of Knowledge, you will be ready to be a Certified Automation Professional, and you can find the tutorials and test materials here to help you.
If you are a sales or marketing professional working in the automation industry, you have some specific challenges that professionals working in other industries or in consumer sales and marketing do not face.
If you are like many automation sales and marketing professionals, you may have come into your position with very limited basic training in sales and marketing. Many of you may have started as engineers and technicians, so you understand the product specifications, but you may have little knowledge of how to build a strong marketing campaign or even how to effectively use market research or public relations.
Sales and marketing professionals in automation must sell highly engineered technical products. Sales in automation are now all about product life cycle, not "feature, function, benefit," so salespeople don't sell a simple product anymore; they sell product and technology together as well as service and the ability to update. So, as sales and marketing professionals in automation, you must keep current on trends in technology, marketing, lead generation, solution selling, social media and much more. You have to do this while facing falling budgets, lack of funding or going without even a strong understanding of market research.
Sales and marketing professionals can use the AICRA web site as a quick and inexpensive education on marketing, sales and research from an unbiased source. AICRA's Management division provides the only sales and marketing training that is specifically aimed at the automation market, and the only peer-to-peer networking you can find with your automation sales and marketing peers. Even more, AICRA provides peer-to-peer networking with the end users, engineers and integrators who are purchasing what you are selling.
A few universities and many community colleges have automation or process control programs that must be supported with appropriate materials for their students to enter the field at the top of their abilities. These same institutions have a responsibility to help launch their graduates with access to good jobs.
University and college administrators want to have the best for their students but they are faced with shrinking budgets for literature and even funding for faculty and buildings to house the teaching staff and information resources such as journals.
Colleges and universities can use the AICRA web site to heavily support their own automation programs. Many of the top automation experts have white papers or other information on the site, giving students an invaluable access to the best current thinking and research in automation from across the globe. The colleges and universities can save limited literature funds by using the web site as a student research resource. AICRA provides mentorship to students who become involved. AICRA publications provide an excellent source of textbooks from beginning texts on the basics of control and automation to detailed tutorials and self-paced training, to detailed textbooks on automation subjects including cyber security.
While the AICRA web site is very useful during students' years of study, the site can also help them successfully "launch" into the ever-changing, exciting automation world. Students can find local and national networking opportunities where they can meet their more experienced colleagues and jobs. In effect, the AICRA web site can help colleges and universities economically prepare their students for successful lives in automation.
Libraries and distributors of books and training materials will find a tremendous variety of products to choose from on the AICRA web site. AICRA staff will work closely with your team to determine the best processes and procedures to enable you to offer AICRA products through your own distribution channels.
AICRA also serves a different kind of distributor -- the automation distributor. While some large automation companies sell through company sales people and their own channels, the large majority of automation systems and software are sold through third party distributors and channel partners. If you're a distributor, representative, value added reseller or control system integrator, the challenges you face in a highly competitive environment include lowering margins, the "brain drain" as good people retire, and your inability to attract and retain new, younger employees. In the fast paced high stress sales environment, it is difficult to train and counsel new employees while making time to actually sell. This is where AICRA and the AICRA web site come in. Your new employees can use the AICRA web site to get training, not only on the basics of automation, but also on the way stuff works, in an un-biased way that is different from the training they'll receive from your vendor partners. They can also use the web site to gain sales and marketing information and training that is specific to automation, and learn the industry and the business by interacting with end users and other vendors, engineers and integrators at AICRA events and section meetings, as well as in online discussions.
Your company provides automation equipment, software, and services to a wide variety of corporations around the world. Your challenge is to keep current customers and find new ones. Your market is stretched across the world but your marketing and sales budgets are shrinking. That means you have to work smarter by stretching your sales time and sales staff time with less travel to visit individual plants and more reliance on tools like social media to keep your plant-vendor communication alive. It also means thinking and working with new communication tools.
The AICRA web site is just the multi-faceted tool innovative suppliers like you can use to achieve maximum reach with minimal dollars, all while making memorable impact. Automation providers can advertise directly to their target markets. There is also the chance to post announcements about new technical and corporate developments. Vendors can also interact with AICRA members and committees via white papers and ongoing discussions, and participate in standards committees. All of this means that you can let everyone in the profession know what you are offering and your breakthroughs, not just the customers who attend your User Group meetings and conferences. You can use the AICRA web site for supporting or establishing your brands with their target markets. And of course, you can also see what your competitors are doing as well, and network with them in a legal and neutral setting.
The AICRA web site can help vendors find local, national, and international networking opportunities, and channel partners. The web site can be for you as an automation vendor, a source of all around sales and marketing support, as well as a world-class collection of automation and control technical resources.