A network to get work done

Aside from helping solve problems, user groups are a great way to network and make contacts in the industry.

I hope you had a chance to attend APW last March in Houston. Aside from the spectacular display of technology on the conference floor, there were so many great presentations, forums, and other events where you could pick up an incredible amount of useful information.

One of APW’s main selling points is that it’s a unique opportunity to get face to face with other folks in our industry and other, related industries. I talked with some other ABB customers who had similar problems that were real head-scratchers. We swapped information and I hope the information I provided helped them solve problems back on the job, because their information sure helped me with mine!

APW only comes around every two years. In the meantime, people who work with distributed control systems have another opportunity to connect with industry experts and peers; join or participate in the ABB DCS Users Group (www.adcsug.com).

One of the best things about this group is that it’s small and focused, with about 250 members whose job is related to distributed control systems. These are utility engineers and technical people in North America who share the same kinds of challenges you do. Many of them are more than willing to share what they’ve learned. Why beat your head on the table trying to come up with a solution when someone may have already fixed a similar problem at their organization?  Much of the help will come from peers, but ABB experts also participate in the group’s site.

Aside from helping solve problems, user groups like this are a great way to network and make contacts in the industry. These contacts are people you may want to reach out to with a specific question or issue. They could also be part of your network if and when you are searching for a new job.

And the group also includes:

  • Areas for downloading documents (Although you may have to search to find what you need)
  • News about industry activities
  • Calendar of industry events
  • Access to free, recorded webinars (This is a great benefit!)
  • Suggestions area for ABB product improvements

I have to admit that our users group doesn’t have as much activity as I’d like. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg dilemma. People don’t post their inquiries or information, because it doesn’t look like there’s much activity in the group; but the best way to generate activity is for members to start posting!

If you’re a member of the group, why not take a look at what’s there and make a post? If you’re not a member, why not join? Membership is totally free, but could pay off with valuable information and new connections to industry peers and experts.


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About the author

Jon Shadduck

I am currently Manager of the Instrument and Controls division in the Project Engineering department at Ameren. I have worked for Ameren for over 30 years in the Power Generation division, primarily in control systems project engineering and design. I am also responsible for Ameren Generation’s fossil and hydro fleet cybersecurity and simulation systems. I graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a degree in Electrical Engineering. I am a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Missouri and have Project Management Professional and GSLC Cyber Security Certifications.
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