Making Equipment Smarter, Shouldn’t Make People Dumber

Posted by Bruce Brandt on July 11, 2012 @ 8:17 am

As I walked into the control room the first thing I heard was, “Why can’t I commission this transmitter?” The technician was pointing to the screen where he was trying to commission some Foundation fieldbus transmitters that had been taken out for service. At least this time he’d remembered to decommission them first. “I don’t know, let me take a look,” I responded as I started sizing up the situation. The first thing I noticed was that the three transmitters were appearing and disappearing from the utility.  That’s never a good sign. “Have you checked the voltage on the segment?” I asked. Of course the answer was no, so I directed him to go to the rack room and check it. Maverick-Tech... <a class=Continue Reading

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Plan for Networking Success

Posted by Jeff Monforton on July 5, 2012 @ 8:28 am

A major part of today’s communication revolves around Ethernet networking. In our world, this is used for either communications or I/O control. The current state-of-the-art network hardware makes the implementation of these types of networks extremely easy and secure. The fact that this is the same technology that is used in every corporation’s IT department makes it even more attractive. However, because of the fact that it has become commonplace has left it open to that age-old adage “familiarity breeds contempt.” Because of its critical nature, you would expect that industrial networking would be the last area in which lackadaisical planning and implementation is encountered. Sadly that is often not the case.Continue Reading

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Doing Your Homework – Part 2

Posted by John Clemons on June 27, 2012 @ 7:33 am

In the last post I gave you some homework around the idea of operational excellence.  I hope you did your homework and learned some things. In this post, I’d like to keep this idea of homework going and extend it to the idea of manufacturing agility.  Manufacturing agility is a little more complicated and is usually only really possible once you’ve mastered at least the basics of operational excellence. But, manufacturing agility is what makes a good manufacturing plant a great plant.  And, it’s the thing that really helps accelerate profit and market share growth. Manufacturing agility is all about changing products easily and quickly.  It’s about changing the processes and changing the equipment just as easily and quickly.  It’s even about changing the back-end business processes and being able to make these changes in as close to zero cost, zero time, and with ... Continue Reading

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The Importance of a Project Specification Document

Posted by Control Engineering Team on June 26, 2012 @ 10:41 am

Leaving Project Specifications Blank or TBA is a Recipe for Project Trouble

Much has been written on the subject of creating legal contracts, often including statements like, “Good contracts make for good clients,” and “Good contracts lead to good customer relationships.” Contracts are important. In addition to stating legal and financial requirements, contracts define what is to be done for the client. Just as important as contracts, proper specifications are needed to identify clearly how the contract requirements are to be satisfied. We have written this to remind our peers about the importance of specifications to any engineering project, and to explain to any prospective clients that we know how to deliver what is expected. When we say, “We get it,” the functional specification is where “it” is defined.Continue Reading

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Why Aren’t More People Getting on the Fieldbus Bus?

Posted by Bruce Brandt on June 19, 2012 @ 8:55 am

After being involved in a number of migration projects, I’m surprised at how few of these considered taking advantage of the extra capabilities of fieldbus-based instruments, drives and positioners. This is not a new phenomenon, but it was more understandable in the early years of the technologies. To some degree the fault lies with the manufacturers. Fieldbus communication was marketed as being a way to reduce the number of wires required and the size of the cabinets required. To a great degree the real benefits of its ability to support smart instruments was a marketing afterthought, “Look at all the room you can save and, oh by the way, you get this extra information.” As a result, the typical migration project team says, “We already have all these HART instruments that give us the extra data and we’re not pulling any new wire, so why should we change?” Continue Reading

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