There are a couple of interesting notes I’ve picked up recently.

Before I get to the first one, I took a long weekend and attended a conference on developing small businesses in developing nations. I met some successful business people who have a passion for helping others survive and thrive in difficult places.

We have learned (or should have) that sending huge chunks of aid money to developing countries has had little effect on changing people’s lives. A significant number of people engage in going to these areas and starting businesses, employing local people, treating all of them ethically, and making a profit for all involved.

If you wish to use your business and/or engineering talents to directly impact people, send me a note. I will get you in touch with the right people.

Are Democrats Throwing In the Towel On Manufacturing

Bill Waddell writes about Lean manufacturing. He is a practitioner and an evangelist. About the only place where he and I part ways relates to accounting. He is a Lean accounting follower. I follow Resource Consumption accounting.

At any rate, Industry Week ran an article authored by the Alliance of American Manufacturing asking if the Democratic Party had thrown in the towel regarding the importance of manufacturing in America.

Waddell responded with his typical acerbic wit by taking political leaders in America (both parties) to task for misunderstanding economics and manufacturing’s place at the table.

If you are a manufacturing professional, I dare you to put aside your party preference blinders for a second and just look at what politicians have to say about manufacturing. Comments are by-and-large ignorant (in the sense of not knowing something).

Where do they get it? Try reading articles about manufacturing in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. They also have trouble really understanding what’s going on in manufacturing. Those are two sources of information for politicians.

Drones And Internet of Things

Interesting article in Uptime magazine poses the idea of drones as a part of the infrastructure for the Internet of Things. At the time I write this, the article has not made it from print to Web, so I cannot link to it. Hey Terry, try “Web first” journalism 😉

Expanding our thinking about what constitutes “sensing” and how we get the information is a great service to the industry. As we move past the buzz of IoT and start to look for innovative ways to get the information we need, these ideas are needed.

Modbus as Fieldbus?

John Rezebek, a Foundation Fieldbus evangelist and process control engineer writing in Control magazine takes Grant Le Sueur of Schneider Electric (Foxboro) to task for making a comment about Modbus as a fieldbus.

Schneider Electric became the owner (or leader) of Modbus when it acquired Modicon almost 20 years ago. And Modbus was long in the tooth then. So it was an interesting comment.

However, Foundation is difficult to use. It perhaps tried to solve too many problems in one package. Modbus is too slow and lacking bandwidth for much of what we do in process control and in the Internet of Things for industrial/manufacturing use.

One thing I find surprising about trying to reinvigorate Modbus is that Schneider (again from absorbing Modicon an early Ethernet supporter) became an ODVA member supposedly to support the CIP protocol and EtherNet/IP. Wonder what’s going on there? I’m writing a post for next week about that protocol’s growth in process.

Check out John’s comments and let us know what you think. Is there a third way? Are we still lacking an adequate fieldbus? (OK, Carl, open mic night 😉 ).

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