Measure and improve

We cannot improve what we cannot measure. That's our world. Here are three opportunities to offer your measured expertise to bring about positive changes. One of the largest and most-distant sensors, the Hubble Space Telescope, will need another tune-up and orbital boost within a few years, or it will incinerate in the atmosphere.

By Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief April 1, 2004

We cannot improve what we cannot measure. That’s our world. Here are three opportunities to offer your measured expertise to bring about positive changes. One of the largest and most-distant sensors, the Hubble Space Telescope, will need another tune-up and orbital boost within a few years, or it will incinerate in the atmosphere. I’m sure you’ve heard that Hubble’s been set aside in favor of newer visions in NASA’s budget, creating an outcry among those who realize Hubble’s ongoing value in measuring, data gathering, and improving our understanding of the universe’s processes. E-mail NASA, President Bush and your Washington delegation asking them to save Hubble. NASA may be reconsidering.

Representatives of Profibus organizations have been talking up the measured benefits of Profinet. Rather than an encapsulation of Profibus protocol at the Ethernet level, this protocol offers a new approach, allowing up to 150 axes of control with real-time, highly deterministic performance. A “proxy” can be written for any protocol to Profinet for its Ethernet future. Rather than Interbus developing its own Ethernet approach, for instance, Interbus folks are working to create an Interbus-to-Ethernet path via Profinet. Along with Profibus, that’s more than 16-million installed nodes pointed to one future. I haven’t done a detailed analysis of Profinet, but at first glance, it seems to have some convincing technical advantages.

In separate news, three more network organizations joined IAONA, an “open-source” Ethernet organization of more than 130 vendors and end-users (For more, see News, this issue.) Say…wouldn’t it be something if device and fieldbus network organizations put aside long-standing rivalries and agreed upon the best Ethernet technology to adapt, whatever that might be? Dare I ask if anyone learned anything from fieldbus wars, or are we destined to repeat errors of history at the industrial Ethernet level? E-mail your network organizations and automation vendors and tell them you’d like a unified industrial Ethernet future with the best available technology (whatever that may be).

We’ve been measuring, too, to do a better job. Control Engineering ‘s “must read” percentage among readers was 49% in 2003, according to third-party research. In the next few months, we’re gathering information and trends for 2005 editorial planning to build on that. E-mail me with article ideas for 2005, and let me know why such articles would make your job easier and you more valuable.

MHoske@cfemedia.com