Shows within Shows

Knowing everything won't accomplish anything without organization and judgment. Consequently, the universe of data available at the 1999 National Industrial Automation Show (NIAS) is also being synthesized into an innovation-inspiring, competition-crushing, company-saving format that visitors will need in their hyperactive, post-millennial markets.

By Jim Montague, CONTROL ENGINEERING February 1, 1999


Industrial control

Open architecture


Process control systems

PC-based control

Human-machine interface


Motor controllers

Sidebars: Resources abound for NIAS information Exhibitor, product highlights

Knowing everything won’t accomplish anything without organization and judgment. Consequently, the universe of data available at the 1999 National Industrial Automation Show (NIAS) is also being synthesized into an innovation-inspiring, competition-crushing, company-saving format that visitors will need in their hyperactive, post-millennial markets.

NIAS and National Manufacturing Week (NMW) 1999’s three other shows are expected to draw about 60,000 visitors to more than 2,200 exhibitors, 125 conference sessions in eight tracks, and 16 pavilions including a new Motion Hall. NMW is sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers (Washington, D.C.) and 38 other associations, organizations and business and technology publications, including Control Engineering .

NIAS’s share of the week is expected to include 300 exhibitors and 20,734 visitors representing 21 process and discrete industries in the $150-billion automation market. For most process and OEM users, NIAS is a primary source of automation products, such as PLCs, PC-based systems, MES software, open architecture solutions, robotics, device intelligence, operator interfaces, and plug-in electronics for I/O devices.

Tracks, pavilions, events

To help engineers and other technical professionals cope with increasingly cross-functional jobs, NMW Conference 1999’s 125 technical sessions were sharpened into eight tracks from 15 last year. Starting at 8 a.m. daily during NMW’s four days, the presentations will consist of 60-min. fast-track sessions, 90-min. seminars, 3-hr. symposiums, and half- and full-day courses. The eight conference tracks include: Asset Utilization/Management; Automation and Control—Trends and Issues; Design for Manufacturability and Other Issues in Design; IT in Manufacturing; Management Issues/Performance; Materials and Processes; Supply Chain Management; and Utility Management/Energy.

To make visitors’ time use even more effective, NMW has three new entries in its 1999 Special-Focus Product Pavilions. The new pavilions are: Motion Hall, Material Handling and Logistics, and Buildings and Grounds. Motion Hall features 150 suppliers of mechatronics, power transmission, fluid power, motion control, and motors and drives. It’s expected to give engineers and designers all the mechanical, electrical, fluid, hydraulic, and pneumatic control systems and components needed to solve motion or movement design problems.

The two main NIAS pavilions are: Open Control Architecture (OCA) pavilion, which unites all the fieldbus supplier technologies for networking control components that conform to an open standard, teaching users how to reduce costs by using open buses; and Robotics, which features machine vision, open controllers, flexible architectures, work cells, and factory floor communications, as well as integration strategies, human-machine interface solutions, and equipment upgrades. Sponsored by Lutze Inc. (Charlotte, N.C.) and co-sponsored by 10 fieldbus organizations, the OCA pavilion will feature 100 exhibiting companies.

NMW’s other pavilions include: Ceramics, Contract Manufacturing, Energy Management and Power, Expansion/Relocation, Fluid Handling, Lighting, Maintenance Software, Rapid Prototyping, Safety/Health/Environmental, and Tools.

Special events at NMW will include: ultra-precision manipulators from Argonne National Laboratory, microgravity product development from the NASA Solutions Center plus two NASA-based keynotes, and a U.S. Department of Commerce seminar on using the Internet to boost exports. Other highlights include a panel discussion, “Fieldbus Networking—Is the Pain Worth the Gain?,” with OCA members moderated by Jane Gerold, Control Engineering editorial director, and an Industrial Computing Society debate, “Windows CE and Chaos—Killing Traditional Control Systems.” This discussion will feature Dick Morley, trailblazing technologist and “Father of the PLC,” versus Microsoft’s technical evangelist, Don Richardson, and business development manager, Ty Moore.

Also, just prior to NMW’s opening, winners of Control Engineering ‘s 1998 Editors’ Choice Awards will be announced at an evening reception on March 14 at Chicago’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The winners will also be highlighted in a cover article in Control Engineering ‘s March 1998 edition.

Resources abound for NIAS information

For visitors attending the National Industrial Automation Show and National Manufacturing Week, dozens of information sources are available. Some of the most useful include:

This issue’s “Cyberpage” column (see p. 56) that explores NMW’s official web site in detail;

NIAS and NMW’s main web sites at

Control Engineering ‘s web site at

the 1999 National Manufacturing Week Show Daily newspaper, which will be published and distributed free at the show.

Exhibitor, product highlights

Thousands of innovative products will be featured at NIAS, including the following. (See booth and circle numbers at the end of this article.)

L-Gage laser gauging sensors from Banner (Minneapolis, Minn.) are self-contained, don’t need a separate controller, use less space, and have maximum resolution of 10 microns (0.01 mm).

PanelMate PC from Cutler-Hammer (Columbus, O.) is a native Microsoft Windows NT runtime version of its PanelMate Power Series executive software and communications drivers.

New VersaPro PLC programming software for Microsoft Windows-based PCs is GE Fanuc Automation ‘s (Charlottesville, Va.) new programmer of choice for its VersaMax and Series 90-30 PLCs.

Intellution (Norwood, Mass.) recently released Fix Dynamics HMI/SCADA component version 2.0, based on component object technology that helps users address new problems and cut costs.

With 10 or 100 Mb/sec communications rates, National Instruments ‘ (Austin, Tex.) new FP-1600 Ethernet network interface module links Fieldpoint I/O modules directly to open, standard Ethernet and Fast Ethernet networks.

Incorporating basic machine vision capabilities in a sensor-style package, Omron ‘s (Schaumburg, Ill.) F10 gray-scale pattern matching machine vision sensor offers rapid inspections for the price of a high-end photoelectric sensor.

Interbus Inline, Phoenix Contact ‘s (Harrisburg, Pa.) new family of 60 digital, analog, and special function modules come in a low-density “slice” format that users can snap together to form “function blocks ,” reducing terminal connections by 80% and saving space by 50%.

Available in April, Allen-Bradley CompactBlock I/O solution from Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis.) offers a base module with 16 I/O points and terminations, a communications adaptor, and an expansion module with 16 more I/O points and terminations.

Rockwell Software ‘s (West Allis, Wis.) RSPocketLogix is a Microsoft Windows CE-based software package and RSView is an HMI product family with add-on modules for specific applications.

Sikostart 3RW34 soft-start controllers from the Siemens-Furnas Business Unit of Siemens Energy & Automation (Alpharetta, Ga.) include an AS-Interface option, permitting a digital bus connection in a distributed control system.

A new version of VMIC ‘s (Huntsville, Ala.) single-slot VMIVME-7591 CPU board brings Intel Pentium (200 MHz MMX) or AMD-K6 (333 MHz) processors to the VMEbus platform.

Yokogawa Corp. ‘s (Newnan, Ga.) new Green Series of UT/UP loop controllers includes three model ranges with oversized displays, a logical operator interface, a NEMA 4 rating, and worldwide agency approvals.