National Industrial Automation Show and National Manufacturing Week highlights


Chicago, Ill. -- National Industrial Automation Show (NIAS), part of National Manufacturing Week (NMW), March 15-18, included the following announcements:

Industrial Ethernet association forms

In an effort to clear confusion surrounding use of Ethernet in industrial applications, Mike Justice, president of Synergetic Micro Systems (Downers Grove, Ill.) has formed the Industrial Ethernet Association. To start, the user and vendor trade group will use as a clearinghouse for technical information, including an Ethernet terminology white paper; online discussion forums and published standards also are planned on the website. Founding members include Synergetic, Grayhill, HMS, Hilscher, Contemporary Controls, and Hirschmann-USA. Another user group, the Industrial Automation Open Networking Alliance (IAONA,, formed in fall 1998 as an open forum to exchange ideas and information on Internet and Ethernet networking.

Schneider Automation-Hirschmann ally on Ethernet products

Schneider Automation (North Andover, Mass.) and Richard Hirschmann GmbH & Co. (Neckartenzlingen, Germany) told Control Engineering of a long-term partnership they signed at National Manufacturing Week in Chicago. Schneider will brand-label Hirschmann switches, hubs, and redundant systems for high performance 100 Mbps Ethernet starting fall 1999. The companies will jointly develop high performance Ethernet solutions with real-time I/O and field devices; fast redundant systems; and embedded web servers and web-based management tools. Mark Fondl, Schneider Automation vp Marketing, calls the partnership an 'important milestone for implementation of our Transparent Factory strategy on the shop floor.' Rainer Schenkyr, Hirschmann vp Network system division, expects present and future collaboration 'will produce powerful solutions for users around the world.'

Software advances at NMW

Automation Control Products, GE Fanuc Automation, Intellution, Microsoft, ObjectAutomation, Rockwell Software, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Steeplechase, and Think & Do were among many NMW exhibitors showing software.
Automation Control Products (Alpharetta, Ga.) showed a product using a Linux operating system for thin clients on a Microsoft Windows NT server running Wonderware's Factory Suite for HMI applications.

GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, Va.) joined the Windows CE tide with PocketView, a Cimplicity HMI client on a Hewlett-Packard Windows CE device with a wireless LAN card permitting maintenance personnel to view machine status from across the plant floor as soon as notified of a problem.

Intellution (Norwood, Mass.) exhibited Fix Dynamics 7.0 Automation software with OPC server capability, support for Microsoft SQL Server 7.0, and support for Microsoft Windows NT Service Pack 4 and Windows 98, both Y2K compliant. The software also features synchronized redundancy and integrates Windows NT security. Microsoft says 34 manufacturing and supply chain applications will use SQL Server 7.0 by end of April 1999.

Microsoft (Redmond, Wa.) is preparing a beta version of realtime Windows CE and aiming for year-end commercial release. More than 10 Windows CE 2.11 products are in commercial release.

ObjectAutomation (Santa Ana, Calif.) and TAVA Technologies (Englewood, Colo.) will jointly develop and certify automation software components for recently released OAenterprise 99 software. They're also inviting others to create libraries of tools and distribute the solutions via the Internet.

Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis.) introduced Rockwell Software RSPocketLogix, its Microsoft Windows CE-based programmable controller maintenance and troubleshooting software that can run on a handheld PC and support programmable controllers.

Schneider Electric (North Andover, Mass.) exhibited its Momentum product, which now runs on Windows CE.

The Industrial Software Business Unit of Siemens Energy and Automation (Alpharetta, Ga.) released version 5.0 of Simatic Step 7, which is a suite of integrated software tools to configure, manage, and maintain an plant-wide automation system. It's the first common engineering and configuration environment for dedicated hardware (PLCs), PC-based, or Windows CE control solutions, the company says.

Steeplechase (Ann Arbor, Mich.) released Version 4.0 of Visual Logic Controller software for flow-chart programming to 'decrease customer design and installation cycles and lower machine downtime,' says Mike Klein, ceo. The flow chart editor has Microsoft Windows 98 look and feel, built-in diagnostics, and a grid system that 'rubberbands' connections when elements are moved.

Think & Do Software's (Ann Arbor, Mich.) Release 5.0 and PLCDirect's (Alpharetta, Ga.) DL205 WinPLC embedded PC control hardware platform with Microsoft Windows CE operating system were bundled in a Windows CE-based starter kit for $2,195.

Xycom Automation (Saline, Mich.) revealed the fruits of its merger with ASAP in a series of products bundling ASIC software for control in industrial computers operating on both Microsoft Windows NT and CE. The integration of hardware and software components will alleviate users' integration woes.

Cutler-Hammer buys Aeroquip-Vickers, strengthens hydraulics expertise

Eaton Corp. (Cleveland, O.) discussed its acquisition of Aeroquip-Vickers (Maumee, O.) for $58/share, or $1.7 billion. The union creates aerospace hydraulics business with sales of $700 million and 'unparalleled systems capability across all hydraulics applications,' stated Stephen Hardis, Eaton's chairman and ceo. Aeroquip-Vickers employs 15,000; 1998 sales were $2.15 billion. Eaton employs 49,500; 1998 sales were $6.6 billion.

DVT wins with Series 600 machine vision

DVT's (Norcross, Ga.) new Series 600 SmartImage sensor is twice as fast; has higher resolution (640x480 pixels), new software, and networking; fits in a smaller space (1.6x2.2x4-in.); and is $1,000 less than the company's 700 series vision system.
Series 600 was recognized as the Best New Automation Product at National Manufacturing Week by Reed Exhibition Co., the show's management group. 'The Series 600 has led to what we expect will be a 90% increase in first-quarter sales,' says Michael Valdverde, DVT's communication director. It can help provide quality control inspection results, coordinate information for motor controllers, statistical process control data, and two-dimensional code verification.

95% U.S. manufacturing will be Y2K ready by Sept. 30

More than 99% of U.S. manufacturers expect to complete shop-floor systems' testing and remediation for Y2K by Jan. 1, 2000, according to a National Association of Manufacturers (Washington, D.C.) survey released March 15. The survey of 2,500 manufacturers showed 41.4% expected completion by March 31, 34.4% more by June 30, 14.6% more by Sept. 30, and 4.5% more by Dec. 31, 1999. Just 0.6% expect to be incomplete.

Automation hardware makes the connection

In the terminal block and connector arena:
Weidmueller (Richmond, Va.) introduced an expanded line of small signal conditioners and power supplies. The recently expanded 'Railworks' design software allows users to design terminal block layouts and choose components. A line of insulation displacement terminal blocks was shown.

Wago (Brown Deer, Wis.) introduced programmable field control to the I/O module line which allows local loop control even if the controller network goes down. A new compact I/O family gives users more installation flexibility.

Wieland (Burgaw, N.C.) revealed a series of DIN-rail power supplies and a unique junction for DeviceNet wiring. It showed a line of insulation displacement terminal blocks.

Phoenix Contact's (Harrisburg, Pa.) spring clip terminal block requires no tools for installation. The slim relay terminal block family welcomes a DPDT addition in a small 14 mm package. A current transducer block provides a linearized analog output with a setpoint relay.

Automation Systems Interconnect (Carlisle, Pa.) is a new company introducing an insulation displacement connection terminal block that requires no tools.

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