Stepping up

Baseball season's in full swing, and we watch in anticipation as many step up to the plate. Business is throwing us more curves, and many are stepping up to the challenge. Motor technologies offer more diverse choices, and—instead of one technology going away—users have additional adaptations from which to choose.

By Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief June 1, 2000

Baseball season’s in full swing, and we watch in anticipation as many step up to the plate.

Business is throwing us more curves, and many are stepping up to the challenge.

Motor technologies offer more diverse choices, and—instead of one technology going away—users have additional adaptations from which to choose. Servo technologies haven’t replaced steppers systems, as some predicted; instead stepper technologies have progressed, adapted, and even blended with servo systems in hybrid combinations.

For more on how stepper systems integrate mechanical, electronic, and communications components, see this issue’s cover article. What are your views on steppers and servos? Take our 10-second survey at Control Engineering Online at www.controleng.com , and then check back to see what other readers think.

Several vendors have stepped beyond the norm recently for product delivery and configuration.

  • A vendor for manufacturing execution system (MES) software, USDATA, has remade itself within its “eMake” division. Its software is available by subscription via the web—think of it as a monthly lease. eMake also makes its software available in more traditional ways as well. And, to ensure that customers implement solutions in ways designed to keep them coming back, plenty of assistance is available, increasingly useful as business needs change more rapidly.

Michael Weiner, eMake’s vp of services, acknowledges there might be some “emotional barriers to new technologies,” but emphasizes the advantages, training, and flexibility will win out. Kerry Walbridge, eMake’s president and ceo, adds the new model “delivers on the promise of the Internet to make things happen.”

  • Honeywell has streamlined specification process by allowing customers to configure, purchase, and deliver control system software via the web. Control Engineering Online “Daily News” on May 10 outlined the “Build Order Buy” (e.BOB) system for customizing a Honeywell PlantScape hybrid distributed control system. Using the browser interface, customers can configure a system and expect shipment in 12 days; the system “ensures precise, error-proof control system configuration,” Honeywell says.

  • Ernie Maddox, product manager at “ifm efector,” told Control Engineering recently about how efector’s Position Sensor Team has made separate designs for extended range proximity sensors. “We’ve created a new family of sensors to mass customize solutions for certain market segments,”Mr. Maddox says. The new efector “m” line of prox sensors initially targets machine tools, food and beverage/pharmaceuticals, and general industrial markets. (See the Product Exclusive in this issue and at Control Engineering Online , “Daily News,” on May 22.)

Step into an unusual application article in this issue that shows how to expand clean-in-place requirements and meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements—including more than you probably want to know about what cows and certain lips have in common. Rounding out the mix of features, there’s a new look at a tutorial favorite, PID tuning, showing how and why proportional-integral-derivative controllers behave as they do; an article on how trends in power supplies have helped control; and “Product Focus” research on vendors and users of data acquisition hardware.

Step out of your routine this summer to relax, think, dream of what could be, then step up with Control Engineering and Control Engineering Online to help make some of those dreams happen.

Author Information
Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief, mhoske@cahners.com