Control Engineering Newsletter for Software -- March 2002

06/04/2002


In this issue:


 

National Manufacturing Week

Next week is National Manufacturing Week, four trade shows in one venue. The trade shows are Industrial Automation, Plant Engineering, Design Engineering, and Industrial IT. Also included is a Motion Control pavilion. I've been attending trade shows for about 20 years. I even went when I had to pay my own way just so I could meet acquaintances and look at products and companies in the industry. Attendance at some trade shows and conferences has declined over the past couple of years. This week I'm at the Embedded Systems Conference, where people go for the conference.

Check out who will be exhibiting at NMW at / and clicking on the NMW button. We'll be posting related developments daily and connecting to related coverage under NMW 2002.

Will you be attending one of these shows? Does your employer discourage taking time off for conferences? Where do you go for additional training and information? What do you think is the future for trade shows and conferences? Let me know at gmintchell@cahners.com .

 

Back to top


 

Web Services

Web services are the 'Next Big Thing' in software. This is essentially application talking to application automatically and seamlessly. For example, an embedded controller on a machining line or out in a remote process sends data automatically to an HMI/SCADA application, which, in turn, sends requested information in the appropriate format to a customer relationship or order tracking application in the corporate suite of applications.

For this to happen, there must be a common 'language' and interoperability among different applications from different suppliers. Do I hear a little skepticism from control engineers who have been promised interoperability among control applications and hardware for almost 10 years with only a little progress? Well, some companies are working for neutral standards to promote this interoperability.

First, there is general agreement that XML (eXtensible Markup Language) will be the language of web services. Both Microsoft's .Net and Sun's Java One initiatives use this World Wide Web Consortium standard. (Visit W3C at www.w3c.org for more.) SOAP (simple object access protocol) will be the transport mechanism typically working over HTTP. WSDL (web services description language) is the standard for describing what services are available, while UDDI (universal description, discovery, and integration) is the standard for discovering what services exist out on the network.

Notice that both Sun and Microsoft are working on products and services. Each will, of course, pursue its own best interests, which sometimes means trying to capture the customer's entire experience while inhibiting access to the competitor's products. Customers quite naturally want flexibility to use the best of both or switch when in the best interest of the company.

Enter Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I). Founded by BEA Systems, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Intel corp., and SAP, the organization is an industry initiative focused on promoting web service interoperability across platforms, applications, and programming languages and promoting customer adoption and deployment.

Check out more at www.ws-i.org

Another situation involves identifying users on the Internet. Most famous in Microsoft's Passport. Users register information with Passsport which manages passwords, credit card numbers, and authentication so that other sites visited can be assured that 'you are you.' Many people are uneasy that information would be maintained by a private company, despite Microsoft's assurances that it will respect privacy and not exploit that large database of user information for marketing purposes. Therefore, the Liberty Alliance Project, formed by many supplier companies, strives to enable a decentralized approach to garnering personal or proprietary information and promote interoperability providing a universal, open standard for 'single sign-on.'

Check out more at www.projectliberty.org

See related Control Engineering articles at /archives/2002/ctl0202.01/020200.htm

Back to top


 

Linux

I've heard from a few readers who are interested in Linux. There's not a lot of news every month, but I'll keep an eye on what's happening for manufacturing and control. When you receive this newsletter, I'll be in San Francisco at the Embedded Systems Conference. I'm expecting a few Linux announcements, so watch the CE web site and future newsletters for more.

WebDock DataPort, introduced last year for Windows is now available for the Linux operating system. DataPort for Linux allows logging of data from Rockwell's Allen-Bradley programmable controllers to a flat file or MySQL database. The software is available now through a Beta program detailed on the WebDock website. The list price of the software is (US)$2,000.

DataPort for Linux offers direct connectivity to Rockwell's Allen-Bradley PLC-5, SLC-500, and ControlLogix controllers with Ethernet communications capability. The product contains a configuration wizard and includes capabilities for polled or triggered data logging, built-in mathematical functions, a graphical interface, and live and historical monitors for viewing data. The software works with Linux 2.2 or higher kernel or Solaris, GTK libraries.

For more, visit www.webdock.net

Meanwhile, MontaVista Software, a company formed to bring Linux to the embedded control space, announced the one hundredth member of its Partnering Program. PointBase, Inc., developer of Java database technology for managing and synchronizing enterprise data among servers, mobile and pervasive computing devices, has joined up.

Besides PointBase, the program includes hardware manufacturers like Alchemy Semiconductor, Force Computers, IBM, Intel, MIPS Technologies, Motorola, and RadiSys, and software companies like GoAhead Software, IONA, Solid Information Technology, and TimesTen Performance Software.

Check it out at www.mvista.com/partnering/partners.html and at www.mvista.com

Back to top


 

USDATA seminars

USDATA has launched a series of technical seminars in over 20 cities throughout North America and Europe. TechTour 2002 is intended for technical audiences including USDATA Certified Integration Professionals, OEM staff, and end-user organizations. Scheduled events include discussions regarding the latest technologies and their impact on the future of SCADA/HMI, interaction with technology experts, and observations on the power of the company's products and technologies.

For more information on TechTour 2002 go to www.usdata.com/techtour

Back to top



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.