A session on the management issues of global manufacturing was among the highlights of a symposium for editors sponsored by Omron Electronics LLC, Schaumburg, Ill. Held on June 27, the annual Technology Connection offered insights into the forces that are affecting U.S. manufacturers.

Among the speakers was Doug Bartow, strategic sourcing manager at FMC Technologies, Houston, which serves food, chemical and energy markets. He says that for FMC's participation in a global market, information management is key. "Software is a major competitive edge for the company," he says. FMC's goal is to have one platform. This will allow for seamless integration of products -- such as a dryer that is connected to a process oven via a conveyor. It also will ease use and training and allow for support of fewer software platforms.

FMC's attempts at globalization include crossing divisional engineering teams within its food group as well as consolidating operations and engineering for similar product lines. The company also is reviewing its client-server model and plans to use programmable logic controllers across the board to draw information.

Omron's David Quebbmann of the company's IA Division marketing department offered a manufacturer's perspective. He says that globalization for Omron includes a global pricing structure, multilanguage technical support and materials, global products, consistent sales support, consistent product knowledge and expertise, and Internet support.

He says that Omron offers universal protocols such as standard network protocols on PLCs and touch screens as well as standard data storage media. Omron's touch screen also has a language utility that translates into six languages, including English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese.

Universal industry certification also is part of Omron's global marketing strategy. All products meet UL, CSA, CE, VDE and TUV standards. According to Quebbmann, Omron strives to "think globally and act locally."