The International Society of Automation (ISA) formerly known as1 The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society is a non-profit technical society for engineers, technicians, businesspeople, educators and students, who work, study or are interested in industrial automation and pursuits related to it, such as instrumentation. It was originally known as the Instrument Society of America. The society is more commonly known by its acronym, ISA, and the society's scope now includes many technical and engineering disciplines. ISA is one of the foremost professional organizations in the world for setting standards and educating industry professionals in automation. Instrumentation and automation are some of the key technologies involved in nearly all industrialized manufacturing. Modern industrial manufacturing is a complex interaction of numerous systems. Instrumentation provides regulation for these complex systems using many different measurement and control devices. Automation provides the programmable devices that permit greater flexibility in the operation of these complex manufacturing systems.
ISA provides leadership and education in the professions that it serves, assisting engineers, technicians, and research scientists, as well as many others, in keeping pace with the rapidly changing industry. ISA is the host of the largest trade show for instrumentation, systems, and automation professionals in North America, ISA EXPO. ISA members are able to gain input from professionals around the world and may get the answer for almost any technical question quickly and without the need to search through multiple sources. ISA professionals work in numerous fields and may provide expertise in diverse areas ranging from environmental quality to automobile manufacturing, to nearly any technological field in use today.
ISA was officially established as the Instrument Society of America on 28 April 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The society grew out of the desire of 18 local instrument societies to form a national organization. It was the brainchild of Richard Rimbach of the Instruments Publishing Company. Rimbach is recognized as the founder of ISA. Industrial instruments, which became widely used during World War II, continued to play an ever-greater role in the expansion of technology after the war. Individuals like Rimbach and others involved in industry saw a need for the sharing of information about instruments on a national basis, as well as for standards and uniformity. The Instrument Society of America addressed that need. Albert F. Sperry, chairman of Panelit Corporation, became ISA’s first president in 1946. In that same year, the Society held its first conference and exhibit in Pittsburgh. The first standard, RP 5.1 Instrument Flow Plan Symbols, followed in 1949, and the first journal, which eventually became today’s InTech, was published in 1954. In the years following, ISA continued to expand its products and services, increasing the size and scope of the ISA conference and exhibition, developing symposia, offering professional development and training, adding technical Divisions, and even producing films about measurement and control. Membership grew from 900 in 1946 to 6,900 in 1953, and today ISA members number 28,000 from almost 100 countries, although it has been as high as 47,000.
In 1980, ISA moved its headquarters to Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, and a training center was established in nearby Raleigh. In 1997, the headquarters and training center were consolidated in a new building in RTP, where the society's day to day activities are managed by a professional staff of approximately 75.
Recognizing the fact that ISA's technical scope had grown beyond instruments and that its reach went beyond "America", in the fall of 2000 the ISA Council of Society Delegates approved a legal name change to ISA—The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society. Today, ISA's corporate branding strategy focuses exclusively on the highly recognizable letters, though ISA's official, legal name remains the same.
In 2006, ISA became the founding sponsor of the Automation Federation (AF), an umbrella organization under which associations and societies engaged in manufacturing and process automation activities can work more effectively to fulfill their missions. It will coordinate the work of member organizations engaged in advancement of the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications. Along with ISA, the charter member organizations of the AF are OMAC (Organization for Machine Automation and Control), WBF (the organization for production technology), and WINA (Wireless Industrial Networking Alliance).
In recent years, ISA has assumed a more global orientation, hiring multilingual staff and a director of global operations, chartering new sections in several countries outside the United States and Canada, issuing publications in Spanish, and in 2002 ISA elected its first president from outside North America, ISA EXPO.
On October 2, 2007, the Council of Society Delegates deliberated a proposal to change the society's legal name to "International Society of Automation". A majority vote favored the action. However, since the 2/3 majority required for a bylaws change was not achieved, the proposal was not adopted.
On October 13, 2008, the Council of Society Delegates deliberated a proposal to change the society's legal name to "International Society of Automation". The majority vote favored the action and the proposal was adopted.
ISA members are organized into particular grades: Honorary, Fellow, Senior Member, Member, and Student Member. Honorary membership is conferred only upon those individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the profession, and does not require payment of dues. Professional members pay dues of $100 per year, and student dues are $10 annually. Members in certain countries with lower per capita GDP (relative to US & Europe) may pay dues at a reduced rate, and a grade of "virtual member", with very limited benefits is available for annual dues of $5 to students in certain circumstances. After 25 years of membership and satisfaction of an age requirement, members are eligible to become Life Members and exempt from dues payment.
The benefits of ISA membership include, among other things, affiliation with an ISA section (see below), a subscription to the monthly ISA journal InTech, free admission to ISA's annual trade show, the privilege of downloading ISA standards, recommended practices, and technical papers at no extra charge, and reduced prices for ISA products, events, and training courses.
Local ISA chapters are known as sections. A “regular” section consists of at least 30 members (not including student members) and is organized around a specific geographic area, e.g. Seattle Section, Connecticut Valley Section, Greater Oklahoma Section, France Section etc. There are nearly 170 chartered sections in around 30 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Sections are separately incorporated, according to the laws of the state, province or other political subdivision in which they are located. They are not units of ISA, although their bylaws may not conflict with ISA’s.
Sections were formerly the “heart” of ISA, and section meetings were generally monthly events. Technical or vendor presentations were typically the program. In recent years section activity has declined and many sections have been disestablished. As monthly meetings have become less popular, many, although not all, sections have adjusted their meeting schedules to a different format, such as quarterly, and a few operate as virtual sections. Many sections sponsor training courses, conduct periodic trade shows, and act as a resource to the local industrial community. Reflecting their primacy in ISA's early days, sections retain pre-eminent governance authority, as ISA’s legislative body, the Council of Society Delegates, is composed of section representatives (delegates) who hold voting power equal to the size of their membership.
ISA also has nearly 200 student sections, in locations all over the world, principally where the economy has a substantial manufacturing component, and instrumentation and industrial automation are vital academic programs. A significant number of these student sections are located in India, where there are hundreds of engineering colleges. Some student sections have found it difficult to remain active, as it is necessary to continually replace graduates with newer students, and membership is consequently very fluid.
Sections are located within districts, of which there are 14, and which comprise large geographic areas of the world. Each one is headed by a vice president. Districts 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9, and 11 are in the US (although District 7 also includes Mexico and Central America, and District 3 includes Puerto Rico). Districts 10 and 13 are in Canada. District 4 is South America (including the Trinidad Section). District 12 is Europe and the Middle East, and District 14 is the Asia-Pacific sphere. ISA formerly had geographic subdivisions known as "regions", which were part of the short lived "ISA International" (1988-1996). At varying intervals following the disestablishment of ISA International, the European Region became District 12, the India Region became District 14, and the South America Region became District 4 . This left only the Latin America Region (Mexico & Central America), which is now part of District 7. It is minimally active as a governance unit.
Major ISA interests and products are divided into departments headed by a department vice president. These departments are:
ISA’s 17 technical divisions, established for the purpose of increased information exchange within tightly focused segments of the fields of instrumentation, systems, and automation are organized under the Automation & Technology or Industries & Sciences Departments, depending upon the nature of the division.
The divisions in the Automation & Technology Department are :
Industries & Sciences Divisions are:
ISA's technical magazine, the monthly InTech has often been characterized as the most valuable benefit of ISA membership. InTech provides thought-provoking and authoritative coverage of automation technologies, applications, and strategies which will hopefully enhance automation professionals’ on-the-job success. InTech addresses industry challenges, new technologies, and fundamentals in a practical approach written for engineers, managers, and other automation professionals. InTech circulation includes all 28,000 ISA members, as well as several thousand other recipients, who are classified as "qualified" subscribers. This has the desirable effect of substantially increasing the magazine's advertising reach.
The quarterly publication ISA Transactions, published by Elsevier, is a refereed journal of scholarly material, for which the intended audience is research and development personnel from academe and industry in the field of process instrumentation, systems, and automation.
ISA formerly published Industrial Computing, organ of the now-inactive Industrial Computing Society as well as Motion Control, a magazine devoted to professionals in this discipline, but which was discontinued in 2001, although it continued online for a period of time following the termination of the print version.
ISA publishes and distributes books which offer thorough coverage of the world of automation. ISA books are organized by the technical categories which are generally considered as defining automation:
ISA standards play a role in the work of instrumentation and automation professionals. Many ISA standards have been recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ISA standards cover a wide range of concepts of importance to instrumentation and automation professionals. ISA has standards committees for symbols and nomenclature used within the industry, safety standards for equipment in non-hazardous and hazardous environments, communications standards to permit interoperable equipment availability from several manufacturers, and additional committees for standards on many more technical issues of importance to the industry. An example of one significant ISA standard is the ANSI/ISA-50.02 Fieldbus Standard for Use in Industrial Control Systems, which is a product of the ISA-SP50 Signal Compatibility of Electrical Instruments committee. Another significant ISA standard family is the batch processing standards of ANSI/ISA-88.00.01 Models and Terminology, ANSI/ISA-88.00.02 Data Structures and Guidelines for Languages, and ANSI/ISA-88.00.03 General and Site Recipe Models and Representation, which are products of the ISA-SP88 Batch Control committee.
ISA is a recognized leader in training in the field of industrial automation. ISA training is structured so as to be "vendor-neutral" and is conducted at the ISA regional training centers located throughout the United States, at major ISA events, at company sites worldwide, or via distance education. The available training paths are (1) Fundamental Skills, for introductory courses, (2) Professional Skills, for training in engineering and project management, and (3) Technical Skills. Dozens of courses are available within the professional and technical paths, including courses designed to prepare candidates for licensure, as well as technical and professional certifications.
ISA manages three certification programs, Certified Automation Professional (CAP), Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST), and Certified Industrial Maintenance Mechanic (CIMM). Each of these is designed to be an objective, third-party assessment and confirmation of an individual’s professional abilities and technical skills. Each certification is granted based upon a combination of formal education/training, professional experience, and performance on a written examination. The CCST program, established in the early 1990s, meeting an obvious industry need, rapidly gained credibility. There are now nearly 4,000 ISA certified technicians in the US, Canada, and internationally. The CAP and CIMM programs, launched in 2004, have been slower to gain recognition and are still in the process of becoming established within the industrial community.