Configuring control systems through wireless devices, remote I/O: With great power comes great responsibility

Posted by Bruce Brandt on January 23, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

In the new world of wireless devices and remote I/O we have the power to create control configurations that use I/O and that are not physically connected to the controller running the control loops.

In the new world of wireless devices and remote I/O we have the power to create control configurations that use I/O and that are not physically connected to the controller running the control loops. In the case of at least one distributed control system (DCS), the I/O attached to its gateway can be assigned to different controllers on a per I/O point basis. Within the confines of the configuration application there are pointers to where these live, but in the context of project documentation the world becomes a bit blurry. Wireless I/O is another story all together. Even if the technician trying to troubleshoot the loop knows which wireless gateway the device is talking to, that ... Continue Reading

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Microsoft Windows: The evolution and where MS operating systems stand today

Posted by Art Howell on January 10, 2014 @ 10:22 am

Since the 1980s Microsoft has been a leader in operating systems, but these days the competition with Android and Apple devices has them struggling to keep up.

My recent posts have entertained the subjects of PCs in the workplace and virtual machines and how they fit into the workplace. Following suit, I’d like to touch on some Microsoft (MS) Windows history and what possible role the operating system (OS) might play in the future of computing. I have always liked staying on top of the latest technologies; I purchased the MS Windows 95 upgrade as soon as it was available from MS; Windows 95 was the primary predecessor of modern-day Windows and a major upgrade from version 3.1.1. I bought one of the first marketed PCs that ran the Pentium chip. As a matter o... Continue Reading

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Good vs. poor documentation: Don’t be ‘that guy’

Posted by Jeff Monforton on December 17, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

A well organized and well documented system, complete with commentary within your code, can only help you and your fellow developers and programmers.

Over the years we have all had to modify, repair, debug, and otherwise live with someone else’s code. The platforms vary, but the challenges remain the same—the biggest of which is, “What in #@$! was this guy thinking?!” Looking at that single—sometimes painful and often confusing—question leaves us wondering how it happened in the first place. More often than not, we find ourselves in this perplexing situation because the documentation has become separated from the program. This can happen for various reasons: - The equipment has changed hands several times, misplacing information - Someone saw this as an opportunity to insure continued employment by being the ‘go to’ guy - The dog ate it - It was never ... Continue Reading

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Some perspectives on MES implementations: Part 1

Posted by John Clemons on December 17, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

A lack of understanding or definition of MES within a company can lead to the same mistakes being made on project after project.

I think everyone knows by now that I’m a manufacturing execution systems (MES) guy from way back. I’ve been doing MES since way before they even called it MES. In fact, when I started doing it we didn’t even have a name for it. MES is one of the names for a class of computer-based systems that are focused on the execution side of manufacturing. Another common name for these systems is manufacturing operations management (MOM). I’ve seen more MES implementations than I can count, and I’ve seen so many of them that I’m seeing the same mistakes being repeated. It’s interesting in that the industries might change, the software might change, but the mistakes that are being made are the same. An entire class of mistakes can boil down to ... Continue Reading

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Penny wise and pound foolish

Posted by Bruce Brandt on December 17, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

A few appropriate costs early in a project can create major savings down the road and avoid a whole lot of aggravation in the process.

I’ve just finished helping support a project startup that has gone rather well in spite of some decisions to save cost at the start. I continue to be amazed time and time again that companies underestimate the impact of cutting the wrong costs, simply because they don’t know what the project really should cost before they go for funding. The project in this particular case  is actually the follow-on to the first phase of a system migration from one DCS platform to another. The customer’s old platform had been in service for a very long time and was becoming unsupportable when things failed. Since any migration was going to be a rip-and-replace, they decided to investigate what was now available in the market place and chose not to stay wi... Continue Reading

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