Articles by Bill Lydon

About Bill Lydon

Lydon brings more than 10 years of writing and editing expertise to, plus more than 25 years of experience designing and applying technology in the automation and controls industry. More Information on Bill.

Omron focuses on discrete application leadership

In November of 2010, I attended the Omron Automotive Summit in Chicago and had the opportunity to interview Gregg Holst, Chief Operating Officer and President of Omron Americas. The clear message is that Omron is laser focused on discrete automation and control applications. Read full article.

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - 5 Part Article Series

This 5 part article series is based on the recent Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). Automation professionals from leading life sciences companies gathered together to discuss MES, visualization, software development, system life-cycle planning, executive governance, electronic testing, wireless and more. Read full article.

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - Part 5 - Automation Reinvestment & Disposable Technology

This is the fifth and final article in a series about the annual Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). PAR members discussed automation reinvestment capital, long range planning, and disposable technology and its automation implications. Read full article.

Rockwell Automation's pursuit of process control

I recently interviewed the two key executives leading Rockwell Automation’s process industry initiative, Som Chakraborti and Steve Pulsifer. We discussed their focus on the process markets, PlantPAx, the sales channel, Ethernet/IP, wireless, and how they compare to traditional DCS systems. Read full article.

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - Part 4 - Wireless in Manufacturing

This is the fourth article in a series about the annual Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). PAR members discussed the use of wireless technologies in manufacturing, citing specific successful examples.Read full article.

Major Automation & Control Trends 2011

I am taking a risk at the beginning of the year to provide my thoughts on automation and control industry trends. I invite readers to contact me and share any other trends or expand on the trends listed. Trends include industrial Ethernet proliferation, leveraging information, remote monitoring, virtualization, mobile device usage, energy conservation and wireless implementations. Read full article.

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - Part 3 - Executive Governance, Electronic Testing Tools, Quality by Design (QbD)

This is the third article in a series about the annual Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). PAR members discussed the positive effects of implementing an executive governance to review business management procedures and improvement projects. Also discussed were Electronic Testing Tools and Quality by Design (QbD) methodologies. Read full article.

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - Part 2 - Virtualization & Software Configuration Management

This is the second article in a series that are the result of the annual Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). A PAR member started the discussion by relating their experience deploying Virtual Machine (VM) technology. Then the discussion turned to Software Development Environment & Configuration Management. Read full article.

Continuous Improvements in PROFINET

Carl Henning, Deputy Director of PI North America, and I recently discussed the automation industry, PI North America organization, and PROFINET technology developments. Here's an update on the organization, PROFIenergy and PROFINET for process control. Read full article.

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - Part 1 - MES Benchmarking Survey Results

This is the first article, MES Benchmarking, in a series that are the result of the annual Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). In my opinion, this event was likely the most knowledgeable group of automation professionals gathered in one place at any one time focused on discussing automation issues. Read full article.

IOM Management Strategy Momentum Increases

Bhattacharya is still enthusiastic about the direction of IOM. Under his leadership, people at the company seem to have renewed energy, creativity and purpose. My view is based on discussions with a number of IOM employees, partners, and Wonderware distributors, many whom I have known for a long time. Read full article.

Rockwell Automation Fair 2010 - Smart, Safe & Sustainable Manufacturing

Highlights from Automation Fair 2010 include an overview of Rockwell Automation's process control initiatives, their vision of a standard, unmodified Ethernet infrastructure, and the release of the Micro800 PLC product line, designed specifically for machine builders. Read full article.

Invensys OpsManage 2010: Enterprise Control System - the journey continues...

At Invensys OpsManage 2010, IOM expanded on their Enterprise Control System (ECS). Steve Blair defined enterprise control as understanding and manipulating the real business drivers to optimize operations from plant floor through enterprise. Read full article.

Emerson Exchange 2010 - Conquering Complexity

The 2010 Emerson Global Users Exchange in San Antonio, Texas was a successful event, hosting more than 2300 attendees, representing 47 different countries. Bill Lydon reviews a few of the event highlights including keynote addresses, Human Centered Design, Asset management enhancements, DeltaV product roadmap, and control over wireless.Read full article.

Emerson Executive Point of View

Bill Lydon talks with Steve Sonnenberg and Peter Zornio about a number of topics including business challenges, what their customers should be planning for, wireless, cloud computing, and what technologies will have the greatest impact on automation. Read full article.

Industrial data now in the Cloud

Software Toolbox is now providing a cloud-based repository for industrial plant data which can be accessed with web-based clients. Industrial applications using cloud computing are starting to emerge. The IT world has been using cloud computing to lower ongoing support costs and provide greater flexibility. I reviewed the Industrial Falcon offering with Kevin Rutherford, Industrial Falcon Brand Manager. Read full article.

IMTS exudes excitement, technology and business opportunities

IMTS 2010 attracted 82,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. This article reviews just a few of the the shows highlights including The Emerging Technology Center, MTConnect for improved machine communications, Hannover/Partnership for 2012, Cloud Computing and integrated machine design and programming. Read full article.

Wireless pneumatic HVAC controller - A great retrofit product

The ecWizard, recently introduced by Energy Controls Co., LLC, appears to be a great retrofit product for HVAC applications. The product is a wireless programmable controller based on the Tridium Sedona architecture and has pneumatic connections to retrofit existing systems. Outlined here is an interview conducted by Bill Lydon with ECC founder George Fincher. Read full article.

Machine design software generates open source Mechatronics program code

Mechatronics Concept Designer enables the entire development team to collaborate more effectively to design, simulate, and build a complete machine and allows the team to identify and correct issues early, before they become costly problems. To implement a design, the software generates the control application code in the PLCopen XML standard format to create programs for controllers. Read full article.

Natural gas quality monitoring over the Internet - No programmers required

The PlantGard natural gas remote monitoring device allows easy access to real-time 24/7 gas quality updates remotely through a mobile device. The unit consists of a laser device and a NI CompactRIO controller that monitors particle distribution, flow rate, and process conditions in the pipeline. Read full article.

From simulation to plant floor control

MathWorks and their hardware partner Speedgoat GmbH took another big step onto the plant floor with a turnkey simulation solution. With xPC Target Turnkey, users can do virtual design and debugging of machines, production lines and processes and the results will be automatically implemented in real control systems. Read full article.

Electrical design software gaining more acceptance

As U.S. companies gain a better understanding of their costs and risks on projects, more are beginning to use electrical design software. This shift has led to a greater focus on efficiency and systemizing knowledge – ideal for what these software systems accomplish. Read full article.

Time for Innovation declared at NIWeek 2010

NIWeek 2010 attracted a record 3000 engineers, scientists and researchers from all over the world. The company's two co-founders focused on the themes of innovation and time. Dr. James Truchard highlighted how NI's products help users become more like Edison by enabling them to innovate more quickly. Jeff Kodosky elaborated on their innovative research on distributed real-time systems and the tight integration of hardware configuration along with timing. Read full article.

Products of Interest from Niagara Summit

The Niagara Summit, held in May 2010, is an event where professionals come together to exchange and share experiences on building automation infra-structure technology and device-to-enterprise integration. This year’s summit featured over 30 partner companies displaying solutions that leverage Tridium system architectures. Here are some that caught my eye as particularly interesting. Read full article.

Honeywell makes move to capture business through SIs

HPS is pursuing relationships with independent system integrators (SIs) to "capture incremental business" for smaller systems in applications including specialty chemicals, food & beverage, and pharmaceuticals. This article reviews the details of the Systems Integrator Program. Read full article.

Smart Grid tour educates industry and consumers

While the Smart Grid is going to take some time to develop, investing in energy conservation and efficiency has always made sense. Siemens Smart Grid Tour educates industry and consumers using thought-leadership panels, videos, interactive demos, and educational sessions on topics including automation, power distribution, generation, and transmission. Read full article.

Industry Perspectives from Honeywell User Group Americas 2010

Bill Lydon reviews the industry perspectives, technology and solutions from Honeywell's User Group Americas 2010. Highlights include an overview of five megatrends identified by Norm Gilsdorf, Honeywell's commitment to legacy products, training and service, and introduction of a new RTU, safety remote IO, in-controller batch manager, and turbo machine controller. Plus, see an example of control system virtualization. Read full article.

Driving Technology and Innovation Together

Bill Lydon reviews the technology and innovations presented by Siemens at their recent 2010 Automation Summit, held in Charlotte, NC. Highlights include Siemens’ focus on energy, advancements in their process control offering, their industrial communications strategy and new distributed panel devices. Read full article.

Blending Honeywell & Matrikon

The acquisition of Matrikon by Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) was a bit of a surprise, but one that makes sense for Honeywell considering how it adds products, knowledge, and know-how to the HPS family. On June 28, 2010, Honeywell announced its completion of the acquisition of Matrikon for approximately $139 million USD (approximately $144 million CAD). Matrikon will be integrated with the Advanced Solutions business of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). Read full article.

Stop and Think! Solving Problems More Effectively

Leveraging the knowledge and know-how of the people in an organization is a powerful way to make improvements and solve problems. The difficulty is getting this done effectively and avoiding an ineffective committee that creates more problems. The Kepner-Tregoe processes and techniques are powerful tools to achieve better outcomes. This article explores the Kepner-Tregoe methods as a tool for automation professionals. Read full article.

The power of integration exemplified at ABB A&PW 2010

The "Connect, Learn, Succeed" theme of this event was about users forming stronger working relationships with ABB. According to Mark Taft, the event brought the opportunity to connect across disciplines and apply products and knowledge - focusing on the power of integration, particularly between automation and power systems. The event attracted more than 4,000 people and offered more than 400 educational and hands-on sessions and a 100,000 square foot exhibit area. Read full article.

Niagara Building Automation Summit Illustrates Diversity

More than 900 automation professionals attending the 2010 Niagara Summit were full of energy and ideas. Attendance has increased significantly each year and the striking thing about the Niagara Summits is the high level of energy, large number of knowledgeable automation professionals, and sense of community where people openly share ideas. Niagara Summit is also an opportunity for users and systems integrators to “show and crow” about their application accomplishments. Read full article.

An Example of a Sustainable Light Commercial Building

There can be some great lessons learned from professionals when they put their skills and knowledge to work. I recently visited a 34,100 square feet light commercial building where technology and knowhow were applied to create an efficient, sustainable, and productive environment. The building is a notable exception when contrasted with the typical light commercial building built for lowest first cost resulting in high energy cost, extra maintenance, and an uncomfortable environment. Read full article.

Modeling & simulation speed process development

Thomas Lange, Director of Modeling & Simulation at Proctor & Gamble, described how P&G has embraced software technology to test and refine designs and processes before committing them to the real world. P&G uses simulation and modeling across a wide range of disciplines, including product design, process design, machine design, supply chain and reliability. Read full article.

Hannover Messe - Visitors welcomed at the door with a sardine sandwich

Housed in five former production buildings, the 1947 Hannover Messe went down in history as the "Sardine Sandwich Show" because each of the visitors was welcomed at the door with a sardine sandwich. Despite volcanic interruption, the 2010 Hannover Messe again showcased excellence in engineering, manufacturing, and innovation, with an exhibiting level back to the pre-financial crisis level of 2008. Read full article.

System Migration Attacks Skills Crisis

Daniel Tadie, Manager of Remote Energy Plants, Colorado Springs Utilities (retired) described a successful migration from a legacy DCS to a new system at Colorado Springs Utilities Birdsall power plant. I was impressed with the philosophy, methodical approach, system performance results, and significant improvements in operations. Read full article.

Industrial Wire Management & Organized Wiring Systems

Structured cabling in commercial buildings based on TIA/EIA standards has become a common practice in many building automation system applications. Panduit is promoting similar approaches for industrial automation. Jeff Paliga of Panduit answered the following questions about their approach. Read full article.

IEC 61850 Power Communications Standard - Commercial Ethernet switches need not apply!

The Ethernet-based IEC 61850 international standards for communication in power generation facilities and substations sets a high bar for Ethernet switch reliability. The goal of this standard is to integrate all of the protection, control, measurement, and monitoring functions within a substation. Read full article.

New DCS for the Power Industry, the Siemens SPPA-T3000

Power plants need better control to respond to constantly changing operating parameters, such as fuel costs, multiple fuel tradeoffs, and widely varying power demand.  Maintaining older systems becomes more costly and challenging with the obsolescence of key components, inability to increase efficiency with new technology, and price increases on replacement parts. Read full article.

Automatic PLC Code Generation & Design Interchange Standards

Open standards, more powerful desktop computers, and lower cost software are making design, modeling, and automatic code generation for PLCs and PACs practical for improving automation. Read full article.

New Gigabyte Industrial Ethernet Open Protocol - CC-Link IE

The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) announced the release of the open architecture gigabit (GB) CC-Link IE Field Network. I recently met with two members of CLPA Americas to get an update on the latest CC-Link IE standard. Chuck Lukasik is the Director of CLPA Americas and John Woznaik is their Network Specialist. Read full article.

Products of Interest from AHR 2010

There were a number of new and interesting products demonstrated at AHR 2010. This is a review of the products that caught my interest. My areas of product interest included energy conservation, alternative energy, and sustainability. Not surprisingly, hundreds of exhibitors were featuring energy-efficient solutions. Read full article.

Review and Highlights from 2010 AHR Exp

The 2010 AHR Expo held on January 25-27, 2010 in Orlando Florida was a busy event. Exhibitors and attendees were upbeat but cautious about the economy. Major areas of interest included energy conservation, government stimulus, alternative energy, and sustainability. Not surprisingly, hundreds of exhibitors were featuring energy-efficient solutions and there were a variety of educational sessions on that topic. Read full article.

State of Industrial Wireless

There a number of standards and technology in existence and proposed for use in industrial wireless. The options can be confusing. The confusion will continue until there is more clarity, but this should not stop engineers from applying wireless now. editor, Bill Lydon, reviews the wireless standards and the current state of industrial wireless. Read full article.

Industrial Wireless - not ready for prime time?

Industrial wireless was a big topic at the ARC conference in Orlando and based on Thursday’s, “Industrial Wireless Standards Session,” the panel members have no plans to widely adopt industrial wireless without a single industry standard that meets their needs. Read full article.

Make or Break with Project Management

Project management is critical to ensuring projects are implemented correctly, on time and within budget. Good project management also communicates to your management or stakeholder that you are a professional. These are thoughts from my experience managing many projects and consulting to clients on projects. The most valuable lessons were learned when taking over projects that were in serious trouble. Read full article.

Success Tactics from High Growth Automation Distributor

Gross Automation is located in Brookfield, Wisconsin, 90 miles north of Chicago; the company sells and installs a number of control and automation products with ABB products being one of their flagship lines. I talked with Bob Gross founder of Gross Automation to learn about the company and his thoughts on the industry. Read full article.

OPC UA - New Secure, Platform-Independent Standard Offers More Value

I recently spoke with Roy Kok of Kepware to gain a better understanding of OPC UA. It is important with new technology to thoroughly understand its advantages so you can gain value and avoid misapplying it. Kepware, founded in 1995, has a great deal of OPC knowledge and knowhow as a leading supplier of OPC software. Read full article.

Industrial Energy Management - Lower Electrical Utility Expenditures

Many industrial plants are under pressure from management to reduce electricity costs. PowerIt Solutions provides software and products designed to lower electrical energy costs in industrial plants while maintaining production operations and quality at planned levels. The system uses sophisticated load shedding algorithms and real-time pricing interface to achieve savings. Read full article.

Sustainability for Profit - Vision & Sound Engineering

At the recent Invensys OpsManage09 Conference, David Haft’s presentation inspired the audience by illustrating the value of sustainability with successful projects at Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo. These projects are examples of management with a vision and sound engineering applied to improve operations, the environment, and company profits. Read full article.

Executive Interview - Sudipta Bhattacharya, President & CEO Invensys Operations Management (IOM)

I recently had the opportunity to have a one on one discussion with Sudipta Bhattacharya, President & CEO of Invensys Operations Management to discuss the new organizational structure and his management philosophies. Bhattacharya is an engaging and personable man that clearly expresses the organization's mission while acknowledging that he continues to seek better answers. Bhattacharya has an interesting combination of experience and knowledge that encompasses process controls, enterprise systems, and supply chain. Read full article.

Growing Problem with Counterfeit Electrical Products

Manufacturers and trade associations are devoting much attention to the effects of counterfeit electrical products. People who work in manufacturing facilities should be mindful of the consequences of using inferior goods marketed deceptively under brand names of reputable companies. Such items known to be counterfeited include control relays, circuit breakers, receptacles, ground fault circuit interrupters and other electrical products. Read full article.

Rockwell's Process Industry Strategy - New DCS Architecture

Rockwell's message to DCS users is very direct - the Logix architecture can meet all control and automation requirements from discrete to process control. The Rockwell vision is that the Logix architecture is a unified platform for all automation and control applications process users may have. Based on the Manufacturing Perspective 2009 event, Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meeting, and investor meetings, process control is clearly where Rockwell is focused for the majority of the company's growth. Read full article.

Rockwell Automation Fair 2009 - Smart, Safe & Sustainable Manufacturing

As usual, Rockwell Automation Fair was an impressive event with over 8,000 attendees, 82 Encompass partners, 6 machine builders, 3 alliance partners, 7 solution partners, and 7 universities. Rockwell's continued focus on process control punctuates their very direct message that the Logix architecture can meet all control and automation requirements from discrete to process control. Read full article.

Enterprise Control System Defined - OpsManage 2009

Sudipta Bhattacharya, President & CEO Invensys Operations Management (IOM), opened OpsManage09 with his keynote presentation. Bhattacharya is a chemical engineer by profession and spent the first eight years of his career working as a process engineer in chemical plants. Prior to joining Invensys, Bhattacharya was with SAP. Bhattacharya displayed energy, vision, conviction, and a plan that he openly shared, including the rationale for the company's new organization and business approach. Read full article.

Siemens Industry's New Automation Organization

Interview with Raj Batra President, Industry Automation Division I recently had the opportunity to interview Raj Batra who was appointed President of the Industry Automation Division for Siemens U.S. in October 2009. Batra was formerly vice president, Automation & Motion, for Siemens Energy & Automation. The Industry Automation division, based in Alpharetta, Ga., encompasses automation products including programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and controls for discrete and process automation. Read full article.

13 Winning Qualities

Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of Orlando Magic, discussed the qualities of winners in his keynote address at the recent Emerson Global Users Exchange Conference in Orlando, Florida on September 28 - October 2, 2009. Williams has a number of impressive accomplishments in the world of sports and parenting. Williams related a story of someone asking the great quarterback Johnny Unitas what the best advice he ever received from a coach and his answer, WIN. Read full article.

Invensys Integrates P&F Intrinsically Safe I/O

Invensys has moved from a "build everything attitude" that had been a hallmark of the company to partnering with strong suppliers in areas that are not core competencies. The tight integration with Pepperl+Fuchs for Intrinsically Safe I/O shows the Invensys commitment to best of breed partners. The solution is certified for Zone 1 and Zone 2 hazardous environments. Read full article.

Electronic Marshalling Concept Attacks Installed Costs

Emerson Process Management introduced their new Electronic Marshalling concept as part of the new DeltaV release. This is the result of Emerson’s new process to design products based on Human Centered Design (HCD). The design looks beyond pure technology to really understand the entire process to achieve the end goal most economically. In this case, the entire project cycle was considered using HCD concepts to think about how to streamline the process. Read full article.

Virtual Training & Operations

The most thought-provoking demonstration at the 2009 IPS User Group Conference was the new EYEsim virtual reality system. It puts a user into a virtual plant and allows interactive operation, just as in a real plant. The user wears 3D glasses and uses a joystick to interact with the simulation. It is like playing a video game. Activities include walking through the virtual plant, checking controls, closing valves, reading gauges, and other tasks. The demonstration was complete with a simulated plant fire and the operator was guided to the shutoff valve to suppress the fire. Read full article.

2009 Emerson Global Users Exchange - Engaging Minds. Amazing Results.

Steve Sonnenberg, Executive Vice President of Emerson Process Management, opened the conference by emphasizing the biggest challenge of attendees will be to "translate this knowledge (gained) into amazing results when you bring these ideas back home." Read full article.

2009 IPS North American Client Conference: Chaos, Crisis, Clarity

Steve Blair, President, North America Region, Invensys Operations Management opened the conference with the theme, "Achieving Sustainable Performance" and two other speakers gave real world examples of how training and preparation brought clarity out of chaos and crisis. Read full article.

PTO 2009 General Assembly Web-Meeting, Celebrates 15 years in North America

Since many members are constrained by tight travel budgets, this year's PTO General Assembly Meeting was a Web event conducted by PTO Executive Director, Michael Bryant. The Web event included a 15th year anniversary cake ceremony with the PTO staff blowing out the candles. Read full article.

Digital Prototyping Comes Naturally to 140 Year Old Company

On a recent visit to A.T. Ferrell Company, I learned how they are using digital prototyping, modeling, 3D CAD, finite analysis, stress analysis, and other new tools as a transformational business strategy to improve sales, quality, efficiency, and productivity. Using the Autodesk Inventor software suite, A.T. Ferrell is taking advantage of these advanced methods at a fraction of the cost of other solutions. Access to these lower-cost digital design tools is a game changer that levels the playing field for smaller companies that take advantage of it. Read full article.

IEC 61850 Power Industry Communications Standard

IEC 61850 is the new Ethernet-based international standard for communication in power generation facilities and substations. The goal of this standard is to integrate all of the protection, control, measurement, and monitoring functions within a substation, and to provide the means for high-speed substation protection applications, interlocking and intertripping. These devices are generally referred to as Intelligent Electronic Devices (IED). Read full article.

OPC UA Redefines Automation Architectures

The new OPC UA technology provides an efficient and secure infrastructure for communications - from sensor to business enterprise computing for all automation systems in manufacturing and process control. OPC UA leverages web services to provide a single programming paradigm in a scalable architecture that can be implemented is a range of devices - from embedded to enterprise. Read full article.

Honeywell Process Solutions Embraces System Integrators

Honeywell Process Solutions is pursuing relationships with independent system integrators (SI) for the "Honeywell Experion Implementers" program. I spoke with Bill Stevens, Honeywell Channel Manager, to learn more about this program. Stevens explained that the goal of the program is to "capture incremental business" for smaller systems in applications including specialty chemicals, food & beverage, and pharmaceutical. "We want to partner with system integrators that have application expertise, are local to customers, and are cost effective in servicing those industries," says Stevens. Read full article.

Technology & Engineers Celebrated at NIWeek 2009

Dr. James Truchard opened the conference by describing National Instruments' technical directions and thanking attendees for taking on new challenges by innovating and solving problems. NIWeek 2009 attendance was up over last year and that alone is a significant statement compared with other conferences this year. It was billed as the Worldwide Graphical System Design conference providing three days of over 200 interactive technical sessions, exhibitions, and hands-on workshops on the technologies for control, design, measurement, automation, manufacturing, and test. Read full article.

NPE 2009 International Plastics Exposition Show Review

Attendance was down, but the show floor activity indicated that attendees are cautiously optimistic about business improving. The trade show had 1,851 exhibiting companies occupying 977,660 sq.ft. (88,000 sq.m.) and an estimated attendance of 44,000 visitors. The show represented the entire plastics industry supply chain, including processors, machinery and equipment manufacturers, and raw materials suppliers. This review highlights a few of the interesting automation products tailored for the plastics industry. Read full article.

Return on Imagination - Honeywell User Group (HUG) 2009

Honeywell Process Solutions continues to grow in a number of dimensions including: additional products, wireless, energy, PLCs, independent system integrator initiatives, and Integrated Master Automation Contractor (IMAC) focus. This year’s attendance was lower than previous years, but David Wade, Honeywell Users Group Americas Chairman, officially opened the HUG 2009 conference commenting that there were more than 50% new attendees. Read full article.

2009 International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show

The combination of more agile robots, vision systems, and the integration of robot and vision recognition software is creating some very "intelligent" robots. These capabilities are expanding the type and number of applications possible. After talking with various vendors, I believe the economic downturn, particularly in the automotive industry, forced them to think "out of the box," about other applications. Read full article.

Sensors Expo 2009 - A World of Interconnected Sensors

The Sensors Expo was well attended this year - a pleasant surprise for exhibitors and hopefully provides some indication of an improving economy. A wide array of sensors and related technology were on display by over 150 exhibitors. The scope of the Sensor Expo and Conference has been expanding from sensors and sensor-integrated systems to include wireless communications and energy harvesting to support smart sensors. Read full article.

Professional Services Leverage Technology

David Johnson, President and CEO Yokogawa Corporation of America, noted in his opening remarks at the Yokogawa 2009 User Group Meeting that more customers are taking advantage of the company's professional services. In this one-on-one interview, Bill Lydon asks Gary Hodgson, Yokogawa's Business Development Manager of Professional Services, to discuss how their service offerings utilize technology to improve productivity. Read full article.

Interesting Products from WindPower 2009

These are products that caught my interest at the recent WindPower show in Chicago on May 4-7, 2009. WindPower 2009 proclaimed itself as the world’s largest wind conference with 1,280 exhibitors companies, over 290,000 square feet, and more than 23,000 attendees. Exhibitors from 48 states and representatives from all 50 states and 70 countries were present at WindPower, demonstrating the industry’s national and international scope. Read full article.

Capitalize on Crisis! - Review of Yokogawa 2009 User Group Conference

The Yokogawa User Group Conference had an enthusiastic group of automation professionals in attendance. In his opening remarks, Con Lau, GM Marketing of Yokogawa of America, discussed the Asian representation of crisis that is made up of two letters - danger and opportunity. “Where there is danger, there is opportunity.” People attending were looking for opportunities to improve operations and efficiency. Read full article.

WindPower 2009 Gusts into Windy City

WindPower 2009 proclaimed itself as the world's largest wind conference with 1,280 exhibitors companies, over 290,000 square feet, and more than 23,000 attendees. Exhibitors from 48 states and politicians and representatives from all 50 states and from 70 countries were present at WindPower, demonstrating the industry's national and international scope. Read full article.

Product Briefs From Hannover Messe

Over 6,000 companies showed products at Hannover Messe and there are important trends that are worth noting. Here's a highlight of some products that caught my interest - some due to functional sophistication and others because of their elegant simplicity. Read full article.

Where engineering is serious business...with Glimielikiet!

Hannover Messe (Fair) is an impressive experience for anyone, particularly engineers. In addition to being the world's largest industrial trade fair, it is a celebration of engineering and manufacturing excellence in a spirit of cooperation. The word 'Glimielikiet" helps to describe the Hannover Messe atmosphere, which connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time. Read full article.

Honeywell Momentum 2009 Conference Empowers Contractors

Honeywell is proliferating building automation systems though distributors and contractors while increasing the sophistication of its product offering. Over 300 contractors and distributors attending the Dallas conference were introduced to a range of new products that enable them to deliver more functions and features to a broader group of customers. Here’s our report on the conference. Read full article.

Update: Government Spending leads to Automation Opportunities

This update provides additional information since the first article was published, and since the government stimulus is so large and is a moving target. It is important to be on the lookout for automation opportunities from these investments. In addition, the stimulus in other countries may well create business opportunities for companies that are in your area. Read full article.

Tomorrow has not been canceled! Report from ABB Automation & Power World 2009

Mark Taft, Group Vice President, Process Automation, Global control System Business opened with, " is important for us to remember that tomorrow has not been canceled." Mark’s point was the conference was designed to provide a great deal of useful and actionable information that will help attendees survive and thrive in the current economy, and be prepared to take advantage of the future. Mark further noted that having a combined event encompassing automation and power is timely. Read full article.

PLM, a Silver Bullet for Manufacturing? Autodesk has another take on it!

PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) is being promoted as the next investment manufacturing companies should make to improve quality, efficiency, and productivity. Autodesk is promoting Digital Prototyping as a better approach for the majority of users with significantly lower complexity and cost. Read full article.

Calling the wireless race results too early?

Is Zigbee the best wireless standard? Maybe not. Editor Bill Lydon interviews Graham Martin, Chairman & CEO of the EnOcean Alliance, who thinks differently, pointing out that EnOcean radio technology is the only low-power wireless technology that can be powered by energy harvesting, removing the need for tedious, expensive and environmentally unfriendly battery maintenance. Read full article.

Silence of the Drives

Variable Frequency Drive suppliers at the 2009 AHR Expo demonstrated quieter drives, network interfaces, and other improvements. Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) are now widely used in HVAC systems as an accepted method to improve efficiency and comfort by modulating air and fluid flow to save energy. Products demonstrated focused on reducing physical size, increasing efficiency, network interfaces, and lowering electrical noise. Read full article.

Government Spending Leads to Automation Opportunities

Government spending should have a positive impact on the automation and controls business. This is potentially great news for automation and controls professionals, system integrators and vendors. The challenge is to research how this spending can be tapped to benefit your facility or customers. This article summarizes money being allocated based on the latest figures available. The intent is to stimulate some thinking that will help you identify opportunities. Read full article.

Winning Strategies and Best Practices for Sustainable Manufacturing

The initial focus of the ARC Forum in Orlando was sustainable manufacturing strategies as they relate to environmental performance and resource management. Based on the recent economic downturn, the conference was expanded to address strategies for bottom line business sustainability of process and discrete manufacturing companies. Read full article.

Cisco Pushes Beyond the Edge

Cisco's non-residential building strategy continues to unfold pushing beyond the edge of the network infrastructure into building systems. "By converging disparate systems over a single building information network, the Cisco Connected Real Estate solution offers stakeholders proven benefits that will help transform their organization, improve business processes, and enhance real estate value." Read full article.

AHR EXPO Still Strong

The 61st AHR EXPO was among its biggest and best events of all-time with approximately 35,000 attendees and more than 19,000 exhibitor personnel for a total of more than 54,000. Bill Lydon reviews the building automation show with overall impressions and products of interest. Read full article.

HVAC Mobile Green Classroom

The Partnership for Environmental Leadership, a collaboration of six Green-minded Industry associations displayed its popular HVAC Mobile Green Classroom on the Show floor at the 2009 AHR EXPO. Visitors had free access to hands-on learning opportunities. Read full article.

Visual Robots - Peek into the Future of Material Handling

At ProMat 2009, Seegrid Corporation provided a peek into the future capabilities that advanced technology will deliver to material handling with its GP8 robotic pallet truck. Seegrid robots use no lasers, tape or wires and Seegrid terms the learning process, WalkThroughThenWork™, set up is one walk through your facility and the machines are ready to work in minutes. Read full article.

ProMat 2009 Focuses on Speed, Automation, & Efficiency for Success

Vendors displaying at the ProMat 2009 show focused on speed, automation, and efficiency to be successful in a tough economic environment. ProMat 2009 was physically smaller than 2007 but relatively busy considering the state of the economy. Bill Lydon reviews the show and highlights a number of new product designed for automated material handling and warehouse automation. The conference also featured over 100 educational sessions. Read full article.

Rockwell Automation Fair 2008 Review

As usual, the Rockwell Automation Fair was an impressive event with over 11,000 attendees and over 90 Encompass partners. This is a very successful show that creates enormous goodwill and is the most successful control show in North America. Training is becoming a big part of the event and allows users to justify the time and money to attend. Distributor travel packages also make it much easier for users to attend the event. Read full article.

Wireless & Networking Dominate ISA EXPO 2008, Product Highlights

The emphasis on networked communications whether wired or wireless was visible at the event. We review the ISA Wireless Industrial Automation Standard (SP100) Committee meeting in Houston, which drew a standing-room-only crowd. Other product highlights include: PLC/Programming Learning Package, EtherNet/IP Controller, Single Board Industrial Controller, Remote Eyeballs for Wireless Reading Gauges, Quad Process Safety System, Universal Gas Transmitter and HMI Enhancements. Read full article.

Optimize Asset Lifecycle Performance through Better Asset Information Management

ARC's Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) Forum began with a keynote presentation from ARC Vice President Sid Snitkin who discussed Asset Information Management (AIM). Tom Fiske, ARC Advisory Group Senior Analyst discussed the value of modeling and simulation of manufacturing processes to improve actual results. Greg Toomey, VP Traditional Power Segment, SKF presented a case study describing an effective lifecycle maintenance program. Read full article.

Do PLCs Eliminate Need for a DCS?

In the past it was fairly easy to determine whether a PLC or a DCS was right for an application but in recent years this has become more difficult. It is argued that more powerful PLC products coupled with new software tools provide an integrated process control system rivaling a distributed control system (DCS) for process control applications. Read full article.

Invensys...Extreme Makeover - Review from IPS User Conference

After attending the IPS North American Client Conference it is apparent that the company is reinventing itself with a clearly defined strategy. IPS's (Invensys Process Systems) view of the major challenge facing industry was summarized by Paulett Eberhart, president and CEO - "Industrial business is now a real-time business, and the only way to effectively perform in a real-time business is in REAL TIME." Read full article.

PROFIBUS hits new highs, PROFINET to follow?

This year's PTO General Assembly Meeting again was attended by an enthusiastic group of users, suppliers, and distributors that apply PROFIBUS and PROFINET technology. Michael Bryant, Executive Director, was master of ceremonies and forecasted PROFINET will be the leading Ethernet Technology for automation applications. Read full article.

Product Spotlight: Micro DCS - Small to Midrange Process Control

Our contributing editor, Bill Lydon, recently reviewed the newest hardware and features of the ABB Freelance control system. ABB describes Freelance as a small footprint DCS for small to medium sized plants in the process industry and for applications requiring DCS functionality in a compact system with intuitive and efficient engineering tools. Read full article.

Get Physical with Security

While there is a great deal of legitimate concern about cyber security, many industrial facilities may be at high risk due to poor physical security. There is a need for a comprehensive security strategy for these facilities and other critical infrastructure. Honeywell Process Solutions' industrial security initiatives go beyond cyber security to address physical plant security. Read full article.

Honeywell 2008 Users Group - Heroes Gather in Phoenix

The 33rd annual Honeywell Users Group Conference was held June 15 - 19, 2008 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ with over 700 customers in attendance. According to Honeywell Vice President/General Manager, "The conferences super hero theme, Power to Perform, highlights the heroic efforts of process industry professionals to perform well despite rising costs and resource constraints." Read full article.

Tridium Niagara Summit Attendance Increases 52%!

The Tridium 2008 Tridium Niagara Summit titled, "Carry the Vision Forward", was held at the Saddlebrook Resort, Wesley Chapel, Florida May 4-6, 2008 with a record number of attendees and sponsors with 667 in attendance and 50 sponsors participating in the event. Read full article.

ABB is powered up and running at high efficiency!

The products and services shown at ABB Automation World in Houston, Texas, along with the enthusiasm of the ABB employees and users would seem to explain why the company’s 1st quarter 2008 earnings beat investment analysts’ consensus by over 40%. The three-day trade show and conference ran from April 29 through May 1 in Houston, Texas. There was a great deal of energy and enthusiasm at the event which showcased ABB products, ABB services, partner products, and over 300 workshops/training sessions. Read full article.

Yokogawa Technology Fair & User Conference 2008 Review

Our own Bill Lydon reviews the recent Yokogawa conference and includes highlights for those readers who were not able to attend. David Johnson, President & CEO, Yokogawa Corporation of America gave an impressive report on progress towards their goal. This includes a summary of a number of Yokogawa product announcements, as well as a couple other industry control product offered by Yokogawa partners. Impressive keynotes were given by Gordon Bethune, former Chairman & CEO of Continental Airlines; Mike Brooks of Chevron and Rob Hoffman of the Idaho National Laboratory. Read full article.

OPC Interview: OPC Test Lab Certifications

By Bill Lydon,
The OPC Foundation is launching certification labs to ensure a high level of quality and reliability of OPC products.'s Contributing Editor, Bill Lydon, interviewed Tom Burke, OPC Foundation President & Executive Director and Paul Hunkar, Director of Compliance for the OPC Foundation and Consultant engineer for ABB, to learn more about the certification. Read full article.

AHR Expo towers above the rest

By Bill Lydon,
The 2008 AHR Expo, held in New York City, January 22-24, shattered attendance records with over 39,000 attendees. The latest in “green” products, trends, technologies and solutions were featured with an array of new, energy-efficient, products on display from more than 1,800 companies around the world. Read full article.