Articles by Rick Zabel
About Rick Zabel
Rick Zabel is Vice President and Publisher of Automation.com, the leading online resource site for automation and controls professionals. In addition to the site, Automation.com publishes the popular Automation Weekly e-newsletter, along with a number of topical e-newsletters relating to all aspects of industrial automation. More Info...
Who do you know?
We’ve all heard that old saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” As each year goes by, this old saying seems to become more true. But in reality, it’s the combination of the “what” and the “who” that makes us most successful. So, we must find people we can trust and we must collaborate. Read entire article by Rick Zabel
The Lord of the Industrial Ethernet Ring
Ethernet has become nearly as common on the factory floor as PLCs. In many cases, along with this need for Ethernet connectivity is the need for fault-tolerant network redundancy. Automation and control engineers have been forced into this IT domain and really don’t want to get too involved with the idiosyncrasies and maintenance of Ethernet networks, especially redundant networks…they just want to plug them in and they work. Along comes the Real-Time Ring™ Ethernet Switch. Read entire article by Rick Zabel
New Online Motion Components Selector Saves Time
MotionInfo.com (www.motioninfo.com) is a new online motion control resource that offers a series of valuable new tools for selecting and sizing (coming soon) various types of electric motor-based products including motors, linear actuators, gear-motors, motors with matching drives, integrated motor drives, and motors with many different integral components. The site was launched by Motion Tech Trends, a leading electric motor and motion control marketing and technology consulting firm, who claims to offer users an unparalleled search experience. Read full article by Rick Zabel
318 Patent Update: The Latest on the PLC Communications Patent Infringement Case
Recently, Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief of CONTROL Magazine, brought my attention to an article written by Managing Editor, Steve Kuehn. In the article titled "Are you paying taxes on your data yet?", Steve did a great job of researching the state of Solaia and the "318 Patent". I wanted to bring this story to your attention because it really hits home for just about any company using the related communication technology. Read full article by Rick Zabel.
As many of you know, Hannover Messe is taking place this week in Hannover, Germany. As one of their US-based media partners, three of us from Automation.com had plans to be there to cover the show. Unfortunately, the Iceland volcano had other plans.
There is no doubt that the global competitive landscape has changed over the past few years. As emerging economies continue to grow and their demand for consumer products increases, new suppliers will sprout up within those economies to help local manufacturers meet those demands. Those suppliers and manufacturers could, and likely will, be your next competitors. Of course, there are challenges to being global, including geography, language and finances. Hannover Messe help you navigate the unknown waters.
By Rick Zabel, Publisher
Have you ever wished you could look back at what your operator was seeing at some point in history? Now you can. The Console Recorder from Longwatch is a virtual time machine - a software package that lets companies see what the operator was watching on the HMI when an event occurred.
There's an old saying, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." A number of experts have said that the United States has lost its edge its ability to innovate. Kamen believes that inventions in the U.S. have not slowed down. However, Kamen says, "Our society has become more cautious and we don't accept new innovations as quickly."
As I travel from one user conference to another, there is one clear and consistent theme coming from the major automation suppliers. Services, which include systems integration, optimization, life cycle management, asset management, and maintenance, have become a major focus for many of them. Even in this challenging economy, the services groups within these organizations continue to grow sometimes significantly.
As an engineer, you may not think you could learn anything about innovation from a former travel agent. But this former travel agent was the founder of Travelocity.com, one of the few profitable dotcoms during the dotcom bust. Jones referred to Wikipedia's definition of the word innovation - a new way of doing something that ultimately creates value to a producer or customer.
After traveling to Germany last week for Hannover Messe (Fair), the world's largest industrial trade show, I was struck again by the difference in how engineers are perceived in Germany versus the U.S. German Engineering is often revered as a high quality engineering standard. I'm convinced that this reverence has everything to do with the deep-rooted culture surrounding engineering in Germany.
By Rick Zabel, Publisher
There is nothing better than face to face meetings. Unfortunately, face to face meetings are not always possible, especially if the participants live in different parts of the country or world. Social networking tools have become a defacto standard of communication for many people and the trend is spreading from younger generations to older generations.