The Economics of Automation – Part 1

Posted by John Clemons on January 10, 2013 @ 9:15 am

Car IndustryBack in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s the main purpose of automation was to eliminate labor.  Actually, that’s pretty much been the main purpose of automation since the first machine of any kind was rolled onto a factory floor hundreds of years ago. Eliminating or reducing labor is the purpose behind just about any tool or machine from the invention of the wheel right down to the invention of this laptop computer I’m using to write this blog. But, you may not realize this, that is all very much in the process of changing and, in many cases, has already changed, and changed dramatically. I’m not joking.  The main purpose of automation used to be to ... Continue Reading

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Four Top DCS Migration Experts and the Secrets They’ll Share — ISA-Sponsored Webinar

Posted by Paul Galeski on January 9, 2013 @ 11:10 am

Straight Talk on DCS Migration Every day we talk to manufacturers who are struggling with questions about their DCS migration. The risks involved. The business case. How to get started. We understand your concerns and what’s at stake for your organization — and your career. To help you get the information you need, we’re sponsoring a free webinar in conjunction with the ISA called Straight Talk on DCS Migration. Join us as four top DCS migration experts discuss the topics and trends surrounding DCS migration — using examples of multiple platforms from across the field. In just 90 minutes, you’ll tap into more than 87 years of experience. The... Continue Reading

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Encapsulated Data in Automation Programming

Posted by Jeff Monforton on January 8, 2013 @ 8:50 am

One problem we face when developing an automation solution is managing and organizing the vast amounts data that are needed. This applies to numerous scenarios, whether it is developing a tracking system, controlling conveyors, or discrete machine control. Not only is the organization of the data important to the control system directly, graphics development is equally concerned. When presented with the challenge of developing a new automation solution, one of the first, and easiest traps to fall into is jumping into code development too quickly. This usually happens right after the I/O list is roughed in. The general mentality is that the code has to be finished ASAP to allow the graphics folks to get working on the screens and animation, but let’s think about an alternative approach. Modern control processors offer significant improvement over the typical PLCs of the past. Thes... Continue Reading

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Understanding Machine Safety Analysis In The U.S. (Part 2)

Posted by Karl Schrader on December 18, 2012 @ 11:07 am

Machine Safety is Important to Productivity and Reducing CostsThis trail of breadcrumbs has led us back to ISO 13849-1:2006, Safety of Machinery – Safety-Related Parts of Control Systems. This new standard is the basis for the PL and B10d ratings you see on many safety devices today. The ratings are ranked “a” through “e” in increasing risk to the operator, with “e” being the greatest risk. Within this standard, the EN-954 categories for circuit types survive, but are only part of the implementation. More comm... Continue Reading

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Understanding Machine Safety Analysis In The U.S. (Part 1)

Posted by Karl Schrader on December 11, 2012 @ 11:17 am

A few years ago, I was working with an internal integration group for a manufacturing company which had facilities in many domestic and international locations. One of the initiatives I had undertaken was to redevelop procedures for assessing safety hazards on automated equipment. Safety_WorkPlace_MachineWith the planned adoption of the International Standards Organization document ISO:13849-1:2006, the older EN-954 standard was slated for retraction by the European Standards Organization. Anticipating this retraction, we needed to take another look at our own risk analysis and mitigation procedures in order to maintain complia... Continue Reading

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