Fire Fighting 101: The Six Basics Of Service Calls

Posted by William Zupon on April 2, 2013 @ 8:53 am

For some of us, one of the most challenging type of work we will perform is a service call. Let’s start by defining a few different types of service calls: scheduled, follow-up, and fire fighting. The first service call type is a scheduled call where the tasks to complete are well defined. The call has been scheduled and planned well in advance, and you have had time to research the problem thoroughly and prepare for the visit. The next service call type is a follow-up where the system is familiar to you and maybe you have done some work with it on a previous visit. Although follow-up calls may not be as well thought out and planned in advance as the first, you do have some familiarity with the system and the customer. The third type of service call, and the one this discussion will focus on, is fire fighting. That’s the one where you get a call in the middle of the night or... Continue Reading

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Four Myths And Ideas About Creating The Next Generation Of Automation Engineers

Posted by Chad Harper on March 26, 2013 @ 8:41 am

Next Generation Of Automation EngineersThere seems to be a wealth of articles detailing the problems we have in our automation industries with finding and developing new talent. There are statistics that say there is a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students in our universities, that there are not dedicated degrees that focus on automation, and that the demographics in our industry will drive us off a resource cliff. The conclusions in a lot of these articles recommend large, high-level initiatives to grow interest in STEM degrees at the high school and college level, and so... Continue Reading

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The Pace Of Technological Innovation, Or, Where’s My Flying Car?

Posted by Bruce Brandt on March 19, 2013 @ 9:19 am

New technologies, or more properly technology reporters, have promised us over and over that the latest innovation just unveiled will, in the very near future, transform our lives in ways we never imagined. Well, I’m still waiting for that flying car I was promised fifty years ago. Why can’t I buy one? That’s not to say that technology hasn’t delivered amazing things—it just didn’t always deliver the things we imagined, or that we were promised, when we first heard of them. This isn’t restricted to consumer products. Many of industrial products have suffered the same fate. In consumer markets, all it takes is one killer app for a technology to really take off. That seems to be the problem with the industrial market for control systems and devices: there are simply no killer apps that will pay for the migration, and corporations are all about getting a return on investmen... Continue Reading

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Plug-And-Play Doesn’t Happen By Luck

Posted by Mike Robb on March 12, 2013 @ 10:10 am

Have you ever worked on a project where several pieces of equipment from different manufacturers were purchased with the expectation that the equipment would just plug together and work? On small-scale items, that might be real possibility, but on a larger scale, such as an entire plant or a retrofit of a plant, assuming that everything will simply work can create serious problems. Success must be engineered. Once the mechanical issues are ironed out, there are multiple things to consider from a controls perspective, such as system integration for the different systems, control philosophy, and communication protocols, among other items. For communication, most new platforms support multiple protocols so this is not as much of a problem. However, on the older platforms typically involved in retrofits, communication options are more limited, and either a universal communication protocol... Continue Reading

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What Does Statistical Process Control Really Do? (Part 4)

Posted by John Clemons on February 28, 2013 @ 9:52 am

Well, I was pretty certain that my last post on SPC was going to be my last post on SPC (if you follow my meaning).  But, I kept getting lots of questions from a lot of people who were very interested in SPC and I said I would do my best to address at least some of their questions. What I think might be the best way to wrap up this discussion (and I really do mean this to be my final post on SPC) is to simply stick with the idea of SPC in the real world and give you some simple real world examples of how I’ve used SPC in the past. Continue Reading

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