Control Engineering's monthly newsletter for Human-Machine Interface -- June 2002


In this issue:



Check out the new

You may have noticed a redesigned Control Engineering Online at / . Some new or enhanced features include a more organized search function, better navigation, integrated site/e-newsletter registration, and the Control Engineering bookstore.

Like what you see? Something you would like to see added? How are the searches? Let me know at .

One of our sister magazines, MSi, did a sponsored webcast on distributed control system migration. If you want to take a look, the June 12 webcast is archived at

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Memo to chief executive officers

Last month I wrote about business ethics and heard from a large number of you about your concerns with the direction of many of our business leaders. Then I received my weekly news from Fast Company online. Three prominent business thinkiers, Robert Simons, Henry Mintzberg, and Kunal Basu, wrote a response to this crisis. Following are some brief comments from the article. The entire piece is available online at

These are five 'half-truths' that the economy has worshiped the past several years:

1. We're only in it for ourselves. To some extent, we are all self-interested. But not everyone is self-interested all of the time, out for all that they can get. There are still people for whom integrity and self-respect are basic values-absolute needs-that are not open to negotiation.

2. Corporations exist to maximize shareholder value. The way that the economy works today, with instantaneous information, global capital flows, and Internet-based stock trading, fewer and fewer shareholders are genuinely committed in any way to the companies that they 'own.' Of course, shareholders' interests are significant. But maximizing shareholder value at the expense of all of the other stakeholders is bad for business and bad for capitalism. It drives a wedge between those who create the economic value-the employees-and those who harvest its benefits.

3. Companies need chief executive officers who are heroic leaders. The notion of heroic leadership is corrosive to the connection that needs to exist between a real leader and the people who make the company work. Real leadership is connected, involved, and engaged. It's often more quiet than heroic. Real leadership is about teamwork, about taking a long-term view, about building an organization slowly, carefully, and collectively.

4. Companies need to be lean and mean. Embrace it, and you'll get lower costs, higher productivity, flatter structures, empowered workers, and delighted customers! You'll get 'more for less' and a 'win-win' situation. Or maybe you'll get burned-out managers, angry workers, quality losses under the guise of productivity gains, and bad service that alienates customers. In other words, you'll get 'less for less' and a 'lose-lose' situation.

5. A rising tide lifts all boats. This last half-truth helps knit together the first four.

Look at the facts of business and economics. A recent UN survey of the world's wealthiest countries ranked the United States highest both in gross domestic product and in poverty rates. In 1999, at the height of a decade-long economic boom, one in six American children was officially poor, and 26% of the workforce was subsisting on poverty-level wages.

Business and capitalism are at a crossroads. It's time for CEOs to rally around a new set of business truths. It's time for an agenda that restores faith in business, trust in business leaders, and hope in the future.

What is your reaction? What have you seen at your business? Let me know at .

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Pilz introduces compact computer

PiTop, an industrial computer from Pilz, offers the thin depth of an operator-interface terminal, touch screen, IP 65 rating, and XGA screen resolution (1,024 x 768 pixels) with 64,000 colors. For data storage, the hard drive is shock and vibration protected and can be changed without opening the housing, a floppy drive is integrated into the rear of the system, and an optional CD drive is available. Included are a parallel port, two serial ports, one Ethernet, two USB, and a keyboard interface. PC/104 expansion is available.

For more, visit

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Rockwell introduces rugged peripherals

Rockwell Automation has introduced three new industrial keyboards and two new pointing devices to its Allen-Bradley RAC6189 industrial peripherals series. These peripherals are impervious to liquids, gases, dust, and other contaminants and are designed to withstand environmental hazards such as high temperatures, shock, and vibration. With NEMA ratings of up to 4/4X/12, the keyboards and pointing devices are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and are washdown-resistant. Available with stainless steel or plastic cases, the industrial keyboards feature EMI/RFI shielding and a one-piece silicone rubber surface that prevents contaminants from entering the device. Keyboard models are available for mounting in a panel, on a desktop, or rack drawer. The new pointing devices are constructed of stainless steel and heavy industrial rubber, and are sealed for addition environmental protection.

Find Rockwell Automation on the Web at

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Dolch Safe-T-Touch

Dolch has introduced Safe-T-Touch 4X, a sealed, stainless steel touchscreen workstation designed to repel bacteria and withstand harsh caustic cleaning procedures. Included is Dolch's proprietary 'EnhancedInfrared' touchscreen technology developed specifically for use in harsh or demanding environments. The touchscreen faceplate is scratch-resistant and shatterproof, and surface cuts or gouges do not affect performance. It will perform in IP 66 high-pressure hose-down environments. The product is available in 15.1- and 18.1-in. LCD displays. Mounting options includes pedestal and panel-mount configurations.

Find Dolch on the Web at

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Vibration and acoustic analysis

IOtech has introduced 'eZ-Analyst' software for its WaveBook data acquisition products. The product enables users to record, playback, analyze, and archive vibration or acoustic data in time and frequency domain. Waveforms can be analyzed in real-time or after storage on the PC's hard drive.

You can find IOtech at

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Predicting machine performance

An application that I've long had an interest is predictive maintenance. I had some products to show clients 10 years ago that could monitor and analyze motor data and perform some rudimentary predictions to help maintenance technicians make adjustments before a failure. Companies are continually upgrading software and hardware performance to provide even better services for industry. Here are two, one from GE Industrial Systems, and one from Rockwell Automation.

GE Industrial Systems has launched Predictor Services, designed to improve equipment reliability and reduce maintenance costs with the use of predictive technology. This technology enables a customer to go from a reactive or preventive-maintenance strategy to a predictive one using current and historical equipment data as part of the overall service fulfillment. GE then models the performance of equipment to predict and prevent failures. The service blends technology with field service capabilities. It builds on technology used in GE Medical Systems and GE Aircraft Engines.

For more, visit

Rockwell Automation has expanded the power of the Entek Enwatch Online Surveillance System by adding two-channel simultaneous data acquisition in the Enwatch PX. It allows buffered eddy current probe data acquisition without a signal-conditioning device and simultaneously samples paired channels. Acquired data can be displayed in orbit and shaft centerline analysis plots, as well as typical plots like spectra, time waveforms and order vectors, via a plant asset management software package over an existing Ethernet local area network (LAN). A total of eight pairs of two channels can be multiplexed from a single Enwatch PX unit or inputs can be configured for up to 16 individual proximity probe inputs from a single machine. This data can be used in a predictive capacity to improve equipment downtime planning.

For more, visit

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Trenton single-board computer

Trenton Technology announced XPI single-board computer (SBC) incorporating Intel Xeon processor and E7500 chipset. It combines the Xeon processor's NetBurst micro-architecture and Hyper-Threading features with DDR memory, a 400MHz system bus, and dual 10/100/1,000 Mbps Ethernet LAN ports. Plug-in I/O module expansion via an optional mezzanine card is provided, and the product supports a 64-bit/66MHz PCI Local Bus and a local ISA bus. A variety of video resolutions are supported, with 4 MB of video memory that can accommodate SXGA (1280 x 1024) pixel resolution up to a color depth setting of 24-bit True Color, 16-million colors.

For more, visit

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