ISA TECH/97 Highlights From Anaheim, Calif., Day One

By Control Engineering Staff October 7, 1997

Keynote Speaker Caspar Weinberger Stresses Security for Global Growth

In his keynote address to the ISA TECH/97 crowd, former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger stressed security issues as a key in the growth of the global economy. Using the example of how the recent examples of the devaluation of Mexico’s currency and the recession in Japan and it’s effects on other countries, he stressed that events in one country ‘ripples through the world quickly.’ He also emphasized that the US’ role in global security is vital to fostering global growth. Mr. Weinberger identified three issues facing that are critical to the global economy:

  • The renewal of presidential fast-track negotiation of trade agreements to keep approvals from being bogged down by special interests

  • The expansion NATO as a means of ensuring a smooth transition of former communist countries to free-market economies

  • How Communist China runs capitalist Hong Kong

Enterprise Integration–Challenges and Opportunities of the Future

What is the future of the Internet in business integration? In their technical session ‘Enterprise Integration–Challenges and Opportunities of the Future,’ John Puckett, assistant vice president of GTE Internetworking, and John Curran, chief technology officer of GTE Internetworking, presented views on the future of the Internet’s growing role as a tool for communicating business information.

Mr. Puckett opened the session, explaining that some of the main motivations companies mention for moving to the Internet are the removal of inefficiencies in a company and to obtain information and disseminate it across a company. He also explained that a big factor in the Internet’s growth in business is that CEOs are concerned that they are missing out on a powerful tool to communicate with internal employees as well as with external customers and collaborators.

Addressing process control specifically, Mr. Puckett said that companies are moving slowly. While data acquisition has moved to web browsers, he explained that more integration is possible by breaking down the walls between information technology and process control.

John Curran explained coming changes that will make Internet technology a better business tool. Designed originally as a research tool, Mr. Curran explained that the Internet as designed has certain drawbacks. The Internet did not have built-in security protocols, so that any user on the Internet looked like every other user. Firewalls were devised to limit access to servers from outsiders. New browser-based specifications such as the secure exchange protocol were devised to for secure business transactions. Internet protocol (IP) version 4 now includes data encryption between devices that is authenticated to add integrity.

The second problem Mr. Curran addressed was that there are a limited number of IP addresses available. Based on its 32-bit addressing scheme, a 1992 forecast said that there would be no more addresses by the year of 2007. Changes in the allocation of have slowed down the rapid assignment of addresses, but IP version 6, available in 1999 or 2000 will have a 128-bit address scheme with automatic assignment capabilities.

As a final problem, Mr. Curran addressed performance issues. The Internet was never designed to meet certain performance levels such as guaranteed transmission rates and down time. Rather than rely on government uniform reliability councils like those in the telecommunications industry, individual industry specifications are in development. The Automotive Industry Action Group recently investigated how automotive companies and their suppliers could dismantle their private networks and communicate all information over the Internet. They developed the Automotive Network Exchange specification as a benchmark for certifying Internet service providers. Mr. Curran explained this as a trend in other businesses as well.

New Products at the Show Single-Board Computer Combines Processor, PCI on Small STD Format

Ziatech’s new PC-compatible ZT 8907 single-board 486/PCI computer can operate as a single CPU or as one of several CPUs in Ziatech’s STD 32 Star System. The ZT 8907 includes up to 4 Mbytes of flash memory, up to 32 Mbytes of DRAM, two serial ports, a printer port, 24 points of digital I/O, counter/timers, and a real-time clock. The ZT 8907 will be available in November at $1270.
Ziatech Corp.

Software Development Tool Brings Data to the Web DataViews 9.8 includes a Web-enabled version of its dynamic data visualization development tool. Using WebDataViews, applications developed in DataViews DV-Draw can be viewed in Internet Explorer with Active X control or in Netscape Navigator with the DataViews plug-in. DataViews 9.8 includes ODBC Query Builder which provides an interface for browsing databases with ODBC-compliant drivers.
DataViews Corporation

Temperature Control Module Controls Complex Heating, Cooling Applications Allen-Bradley’s new 1746-GTC general temperature control module provides multi-loop control across a range of tank and vessel applications. The module can be used with either a SLC programmable controller or the new Allen-Bradley ProcessLOGIX 47 process control system. Features include four inputs configurable as thermocouple or RTD, four TOP 4-20 analog outputs, and four TPO TTL outputs. The 1746-GRC Module will be available in January, 1998.
Rockwell Automation Response Center