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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3 Basic Elements of Advanced Process Controls

Posted by Bruce Brandt on February 26, 2013 @ 10:53 am

With the increase in processor power, the number of advanced process control (APC) algorithms available to users has reached a level where everyone should be considering if they can improve their operations by adopting one or more of the strategies. However, in some older plants, a cascade or feed forward control loop could be considered advanced control. So what really constitutes advanced control? The usual suspects involve fuzzy logic, neural networks and predictive modeling, but there are other opportunities to improve control without resorting to something your staff may struggle to understand and use. Let’s look at three basic elements of APC. Deadtime compensation is one of the advanced control concepts that is not very well understood. Many think that simply inserting a deadtime function block into the input to the loop is adequate, but doing so neglects the effect of proces... Continue Reading

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What Does Statistical Process Control Really Do? (Part 3)

Posted by John Clemons on February 21, 2013 @ 9:16 am

SPC Really Do Part 3I think this is probably my last post on the topic for SPC, at least for awhile.  I really didn’t plan on having this one, but in putting together my first two posts, a several people asked me a lot about what the SPC really look like and what you really need to implement SPC.  And, since I mentioned the concepts of real-time SPC and historical SPC in my previou... Continue Reading

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