Catching up on newsFormatting, Opto, Omron, interesting links, digital pen, and more.
I’ve just been swamped lately. Lots of news plus new year planning and recovering from trips. Although Saturday, I’m leaving for Nuremberg and the SPS/Drives trade fair. Looks like lots of announcements from the European-based automation companies coming. Just in time to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey.


Sorry about the formatting lately. I’ve been using Dave Winer’s OPML outliner/editor to compose with for quite a while. But you can’t copy from Microsoft Word and paste into it. You have to save as .txt then copy and paste. So I thought I’d go back to OmniOutliner. It’s friendly with Microsoft, but it can’t handle text (at least I’ve tried various settings and nothing works). I haven’t figured out the magic formula.

Opto 22 has released a new product that it calls a sensor–but it’s a sensor and more. It is designed for energy management and the smart grid with built-in sensing capabilities, connections for additional sensor input and on-board intelligence. Opto has always been at the confluence of IT and control, and this is no different as it includes IT friendly networking and industrial-grade networking. It’s designed to help get energy information to the people who actually control how energy is used in near-real-time. See the product write up here

Had a meeting with some of Omron’s new management team. Most have been in place for about three years, but I have not had an opportunity to meet them. I’ve always found the North American operation to be an enigma. And too many heads of marketing with too many changes of direction. Sounds as if the new team headed by Gregg Holst has been concentrating on the basics and getting the ship up and running with the wind rather than against it. They say that revenues are very good, and they are optimistic. Not everyone in the discrete automation space can say the same thing. Here’s a company to watch.

Check out this Web site. HylaSoft is working with a digital pen and some software they’ve written to capture writing as operators and clerks fill out forms and ship the digital image or ASCII text to a computer. This holds promise of making data entry easy and painless. Just fill out the paper form once and eliminate the next process of entering into the computer. Great for Hazop and LIMS reports, digital signatures and the like.

Interesting news on the Stuxnet front. The target keeps pointing at Iran. Seems researchers have found code that points to a couple of specific variable frequency drives that control centrifuges essential to enriching uranium into weapons grade at an Iranian site. Hmmm.

Blevins and Mark Nixon have updated the worksheet Website for their Control Loop Foundation book. I’ve found the book to be an interesting read, and have passed it along to my new boss to get him up to speed on the other part of automation. He’s been dealing with packaging machine automation for several years. This is a whole nuther world.    

Interesting podcasts

 Talk on an experimental site at the US State Department–Opinion Space–with a very interesting technology for handling thousands of comments so that someone can make sense of them. Love to see this on the Automation World Website.

 Great talk on customer service “Everything fails all the time.”

Neal Ford at the Rails Conference on constraints–one of the best presentations you’ll hear this year.

Interesting discussion on reconfigurable robots, Kasper Stoy.

Finally, Emerson has joined the FDT Group. Are DTMs in its future?

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