Control Engineering Newsletter for Software -- April 2002

06/04/2002


In this issue:


 

Software trends

It's no surprise that software suppliers are using web technologies and interfaces to an ever greater degree. I wrote about Wonderware's SuiteVoyager in July 2000. It uses a 'portal' experience to help managers and others who need information in a customizable, easy-to-read way. Read more about Suite Voyager at /archives/2000/ctl0701.00/000703.htm .

In last February's issue of Control Engineering , Intellution's InfoAgent (see /archives/2002/ctl0202.01/020200.htm ) was introduced to readers. This is a customizable user experience designed to give people required information in a format that each can readily understand. The company was demonstrating InfoAgent at the recent National Manufacturing Week in Chicago.

Along with web technologies as both a user experience and communication model for current software, collaboration is another keyword. GE Fanuc introduced its latest version of Cimplicity software touting it as a collaboration vehicle. Supplier companies say that many customers are demanding manufacturing software that communicates readily with enterprise databases, provides good visualization tools both for operators and others with a need to know, and provides a platform enabling close collaboration of supplier plants, whether owned by the same company or not.

Another company providing web-based integrated plant software solutions is Datasweep. Check out the Advantage product suite at www.datasweep.com .

The cool thing about competition is that each announcement ups the ante a little by providing a little more integration. In the end, you, the engineers making all this stuff work, should benefit. Maybe you could even be a hero (or at least get one AttaBoy) by implementing a collaborative manufacturing platform plus giving the plant manager enough information on a browser to keep that person off your back for a while.

The question I have for the month is, how many of you are facing requests for more information integration? Do you have to plan for multiple plants and tie their systems together? How are you doing all this? Hiring services, or 'rolling your own?'

Let me know by emailing me at gmintchell@cahners.com

 

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Programming in Java

I've been upgrading my skills and learning Java 2 (which is actually Java 1.3, go figure). I learned, and used a little, original Java several years ago and haven't looked at it for at least five years. I'd forgotten how 'C' like it is. There is a lot of power in the language. I'm using Java 2 Bible by Walsh, Couch, and Steinberg published by IDG Books. It is a good, logical guide through the language. For more, visit java.sun.com/java2/

I've been using it with the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE). I'll never use the power of this tool, but for all you programmers out there, it is well worth checking out at www.eclipse.org

One of the powers of Java 2 lies in its ability to develop 'web services.' This is the power word of the year. Microsoft has an answer that is my next project, C# (that's C-sharp as in music, not C-pound sign like I first thought). Using Visual C# with Visual Studio.Net, developers can program web services on a Microsoft Windows platform.

In the mea culpa department, I wrote last month about an excellent book on Petri Nets and Grafcet. A public relations consultant sent the book, it looked interesting, so I read it. It was good, so I wrote about it. Turns out, it is hard to find. A search on Amazon.com turns up one used copy. A search on BarnesandNoble.com didn't show much more, but that site did have bunches of alternative books on the subject. The publisher, Prentice Hall, took a couple of weeks to respond to my inquiries with a question. A week later, I'm still waiting for information. That's the first time a PR person sent me something they weren't selling.

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Arcom Control Systems supports IBM WebSphere MQ

Integration of plant information into enterprise computer systems is a well-established trend. In this vein, Arcom Control Systems has introduced an architecture that offers an information bridge between front end business operations and IT based enterprise applications. Arcom people have teamed up with IBM to offer an end-to-end telemetry integration solution for IBM WebSphere MQ Integrator (WMQI).

Arcom and IBM's Research Laboratories in Hursley, England, developed the lightweight TCP/IP based protocol to deliver data directly from remote devices and data producers into the WMQI publish and subscribe `integration broker.' From the broker, information can be accessed on a 'one-to-many' basis and delivered directly to multiple applications using the MQSeries messaging `middleware.' This solution supplies event-driven, real-time data to any application within the enterprise, such as SAP-based ERP, billing, scheduling, or even the trading floors.

For more, visit Arcom and IBM .

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SCADA in Java

Verano Inc. announced that its flagship Real-time Application Platform (RTAP) is re-engineered for the web with Java technology. This web-based version, RTAP/I, monitors, analyzes, and displays real-time data collected from equipment used by utilities, transportation, energy, and manufacturing.

Now more than ever industrial companies need to monitor operations remotely and distribute the information across the enterprise in real-time for market responsiveness, cost efficiency, safety and quality control. RTAP/i enables responsive control of operations, management, and integration of data using a object-oriented, real-time supervisory platform, combined with today's web technologies, ensuring that everyone who needs access to plant information gets it.

Because the new software is Java-based and web-based, it is easier for industrial companies to:

  • Use a browser to extend process information from business managers to engineers;

  • Monitor and manage operations remotely;

  • Manage inventories and production worldwide, in real time; and

  • Improve visibility of key performance indicators.

Because it is based on open platform that leverages Java-based components and the Internet it allows developers to:

  • Develop applications built on Java;

  • Extend remote access through web services; and

  • Extend interactive viewing across the network to many users.

For more, visit Verano .

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Schneider Electric launches new product road trip

Schneider Electric is introducing a broad range of automation and industrial control products during 2002. Customers and distributors will get a hands-on look at the new products in a 10-city tour that kicks off April 8 and runs through July.

The new products, which carry Schneider Electric's Square D, Telemecanique, Modicon, or Merlin Gerin brands, include a new business-card-sized PLC (coming in June Control Engineering), OSI (Offering Simplicity thru Innovation) sensor line detailed in April Control Engineering, an entry-level SCADA software, Twin Line servo drives, controllers and motors, TeSys U-Line motor starter that combines starter and circuit breaker, and ATS 48 digital soft start with TCS (Torque Control System).

Express 2002 Stops

Date

City

April 8-12

San Francisco, CA

April 15-19

Charlotte, NC

May 6-10

Los Angeles, CA

May 7-8

New Orleans, LA

May 13-17

Boston, MA

May 20-24

New Jersey

June 3-7

Minneapolis, MN

June 10-14

Detroit, MI

June 17-21

Chicago, IL

June 24-28

Cincinnati, OH

July 15-19


Philadelphia, PA

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Control Engineering website resources

Control Engineering's website includes registration for and archives of eight other topical e-mailed newsletters, daily news, products, access to exclusive coverage from Control Engineering Europe , site search, Online Control Engineering Buyer's Guide , and Automation Integrator Guide Online , with advanced search functions.

Access these and other Control Engineering Online offerings at /

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