Upswing Underway

When does a new world begin? The moment you start to create it. Control and automation engineers know this only too well, and are keenly aware of the technical innovations required to meet today's mounting economic pressures. To give technical professionals the specific tools needed to compete worldwide, the National Industrial Automation Show (NIAS) at National Manufacturing Week (NMW) 2004 wi...



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Innovations drive recovery at NMW 2004

When does a new world begin? The moment you start to create it. Control and automation engineers know this only too well, and are keenly aware of the technical innovations required to meet today's mounting economic pressures.

To give technical professionals the specific tools needed to compete worldwide, the National Industrial Automation Show (NIAS) at National Manufacturing Week (NMW) 2004 will offer a variety of new features during its four-day run, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 23-26, in the South Hall at McCormick Place in Chicago. The close to 30,000 visitors expected at this year's event will experience:

  • Nearly 1,000 exhibitors in six trade shows;

  • 220 conference sessions in seven tracks;

  • "Play Your Part" rally on behalf of U.S. manufacturing at 9 a.m. on Feb. 23;

  • An opening-day Country & Western concert by Chely Wright;

  • a Feb. 26 appearance by U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans;

  • New Capital Markets pavilion to help executives explore financing alternatives;

  • Siemens Automation & Drives' (A&D) "Exider" automation exhibit in 14 railroad cars; and

  • Thousands of new products and solutions, such as industrial PCs for harsh manufacturing environments; a portable vibration data analyzer; a self-monitoring unit for emergency stop systems and safety switches; and a real-time nip profiling system for revealing inaccurate roll assignment, roll skewing, and crown deficiencies.

Increasing demand = more buyers

"Last year, people were conditioned by their markets, and were nervous, cautious, on tight budgets, and not ready to order. Now, there seems to be a build up to renewal and recovery, and the release of a lot of pent up demand. As a result, purchasing managers appear to be instituting a lot more new orders recently, and their confidence seems to be going up and up over the past four months," says John Stuttard, industry VP for NMW's organizer, Reed Exhibitions. "In our case, we've hit record sales of exhibitors coming into NMW during six of the past eight weeks. Because of this overall increase in demand from purchasers, we're anticipating a lot more buyers at this year's show."

To help visitors and exhibitors capitalize on this overall demand, Stuttard adds that marketing for NMW 2004 has been more "verticalized" and focused on each of the six shows. "Rather than one huge campaign, we're trying to highlight the specific interests of NMW's visitors," says Stuttard.

Attendees also are expected to benefit from a clearer layout and improved traffic flow at NMW 2004 because organizers were able to fit all the exhibits into McCormick Place's South Hall. Visitors will be able to come up to the show floor from below the South Hall more quickly than in past years when they were guided to McCormick Place's main concourse.

Conferences and pavilions

Besides almost doubling in number, NMW 2004's conference sessions will be arranged to match the six shows' coverage areas. NIAS-related sessions will focus on: automation software, motion controls and sensors, using wireless technology to improve manufacturing, tools for process improvement, and supply chain transformation. Many of the sessions will be repeated at different times to allow visitors to attend when it's most convenient.

In addition, Control Engineering (CE, Booth #5408) editors will host two sessions in NIAS' industrial automation track. "The Implications of Real-Time Initiatives for Control Engineers" at 10-11 a.m. on Feb. 25 will be hosted by David Greenfield, CE 's editorial director. "Control Logic: Where Should It Reside?" at 10-11 a.m. on Feb. 26 will be hosted by Mark Hoske, CE 's editor-in-chief.

Embedded within and between the six larger shows at NMW 2004 will be a variety of specialty pavilions and arenas, which will concentrate many technologies by topic for added convenience. For the first time, attendees and exhibitors visiting the new Capital Markets pavilion (Booth #4854) will have direct access to funding advice from capital providers, who specialize in providing financing for the middle market. This pavilion also will feature panel discussions on raising capital for small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Four other new specialty pavilions at NMW 2004 will include:

  • Wireless Technology;

  • Sensors pavilion, which will focus on the latest instrumentation and controls;

  • Reliability pavilion, which will concentrate on how to keep plants operating at peak availability; and

  • Safety/Health/Environment pavilion.

In addition, an expanded Innovation Arena will include dedicated new products displays, as well as ongoing vendor presentations in its theater section.

'Hear that train a' coming...'

Follow its recent visits to Europe and Asia, Siemens A&D's 7,000 ft2Exider automation exhibit in 14 railroad cars will be taken off its rails and moved onto the South Hall's show floor. The company says NMW is Exider's first stop on a 10-city U.S. tour, demonstrating products and solutions chosen specifically for the North American market.

Using 224 plasma screens and monitors, 189 DVD players, four servers, nine miles of cabling and two miles of data lines, Exider simulates specific customer applications, in pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, and commercial power distribution.

Innovations drive recovery at NMW 2004

Thousands of useful and innovative products, technologies, and solutions will be highlighted at NIAS and NMW. Some of the most significant will include:

New PACSystems RX3i controller from GE Fanuc features a patented portable control engine that can help users boost the overall performance of their automation systems, reduce engineering costs, and decrease concerns about short- and long-term migration and platform longevity. PACSystems RX3i offers a high-speed, PCI-based backplane and Pentium 300 mHz CPU for fast throughput without information bottlenecks.

Five low-cost digital input/output (DI/O) and analog output (AO) boards from National Instruments offer an affordable and reliable I/O solution, and reportedly set a new price/performance standard for data acquisition and control. The new boards deliver NI-DAQmx software technology, as well as superior ease-of-use and performance at a low cost for industrial automation and control, test and measurement, and OEM applications.

Power-over-Ethernet is available in QSI's QTerm-G70 graphics terminal, which combines power and data on the same Cat5 Ethernet cable, and lets users replace older proprietary power sources and eliminates the need to run 115 V ac power to devices on a wired LAN. The Ethernet-enabled graphics terminal uses an object-based graphic terminal programming language called Qlarity.

Wago Corp. reports that its cost-effective, compact I/O-IPC 758 Series integrates all standard PC functions, including network and fieldbus interfaces, to tie the industrial/ process automation and IT worlds together.

Westermo Teleindustri AB's GD-01 modem provides a reliable wireless data communication link over public GSM networks. GD-01 is DIN-rail mounted with an RS-232 interface in either a nine-pin or a five-pin screw connector. Configuration is made via AT-commands.

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