1999: The web in review
This year was significant for the automation and controls industry on the worldwide web. 1999 saw impressive growth in the web presence of many key companies, and brought with it a surge in e-commerce as an effective means of purchasing components and systems.Highlights of the year include the following: GE Fanuc's site (www.
This year was significant for the automation and controls industry on the worldwide web. 1999 saw impressive growth in the web presence of many key companies, and brought with it a surge in e-commerce as an effective means of purchasing components and systems.
Highlights of the year include the following:
GE Fanuc's site ( www.gefanuc.com ) offers the easy-to-use GE Business Finder, which locates GE companies that best fit the user's needs, based on a short fill-out form. Also available is a product index and product locator, which points out the best places to buy products based on location and need. GE Fanuc also recently launched web-based demos of its Cimplicity software. These downloadable one-minute movies are available at www.cimplicitysoftware.com .
Intellution's web site ( www.intellution.com ) includes special "hubs" for OPC and Y2K information. Software registration can be done online. Plus, its IntelliStore e-commerce site is available to compare and purchase automation products online.
Moore Process Automation recently introduced a new kind of control system, the Internet control system (ICS). Called Procidia, this system allows users to get maximum control system functionality at lower cost by using the Internet as its interface. For more information about Procidia, visit www.procidia.com .
MyPlant.com ( www.myplant.com ), hosted by Honeywell Hi-Spec Solutions, presents a portal-like interface which delivers customizable news and solutions from many providers, neatly categorized by industry. Live web conferencing will soon be added to the site.
Opto 22 takes web demos one step further. By visiting www.opto22.com and clicking on "Live Internet demo," users can witness a live demo of Snap Ethernet I/O. The demo includes a web page served by an I/O module connected to the Internet. Users can change certain values and watch the changes affect the I/O module in real time.
Other useful corporate sites include Adept Technologies ( www.adept.com ), AutomationDirect.com ( www.automationdirect.com ), Fisher-Rosemount ( www.frco.com ), PC Soft International ( www.pcsoftintl.com ), Phoenix Contact ( www.phoenixcontact.com ), Schneider Electric ( www.groupeschneider.com ), Siemens ( www.siemens.com ), Total Control Products ( www.total-control.com ), Wonderware ( www.wonderware.com ), and Zygo ( www.zygo.com ).
In the academic world, emerging technologies have allowed users to access and control real or "virtual" systems via the web in real time. Two examples of this are the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Control Systems Lab online (http://chem.engr.utc.edu, see CE August 1999 Cyberpage for more information), and the University of Western Australia's Telerobot ( telerobot.mech.uwa.edu.au ), a robotic arm that users can control remotely.
Some highlights from nonprofit organizations include: Fieldbus Foundation ( www.fieldbus.org ), a helpful reference for all things fieldbus; the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers ( www.ieee.org ), a good resource for those in the electronics or electrical industries; ISA, the international society for measurement and control ( www.isa.org ); the Industrial Computing Society ( www.ics.org ), which sponsors live online discussions in chat format; the Manufacturing Execution Systems Association International ( www.mesa.org ), dedicated to MES software; the National Association of Manufacturers' "Manufacturing Central" ( www.nam.org ); the National Electrical Manufacturers Association ( www.nema.org ), which includes a comprehensive "Electroindustry" section; the Valve Manufacturers of America's "Valves & Actuators Online" ( www.vma.org ), with extensive information for those in the valve business; and the World Batch Forum ( wbf.org ), promoting understanding of batch process manufacturing.
Laura Zurawski, web editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The new millennium holds much promise for the control & automation industries, especially in connection with the Internet. Look for Rockwell Automation's newest web offering, SourceAlliance.com, which will offer an extensive network of electrical distributors and suppliers in one location. SourceAlliance.com will use over 500 North American distributor locations in its network, allowing customers to retain their local distributor while simplifying the ordering and purchasing process. SourceAlliance.com will open in early 2000.
Also look for new and exciting changes to Control Engineering's own web site at