Dick Johnson


Mobility March 1, 2007


Throughout civilization, humanity has devised ways to record events for future generations: word-of-mouth, cave paintings, symbols on clay tablets, alphabets on scrolls. Not long after the industrial revolution, it became apparent to manufacturers that recording data was better accomplished through technology.

By Dick Johnson
Mobility February 1, 2007

Enclosures – 2007-02-01

To protect and serve” appears on countless police and public safety vehicles in the United States. Although taken for granted by many, it is a serious motto for those in law enforcement, fire protection, and security fields. This same motto could appear on industrial enclosures as well. Their function is also to protect and serve.

By Dick Johnson
Mechatronics and Motion Control April 1, 2006

Operator Interface Terminals

If "eyes are windows to the soul," as the French poet, Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas rhapsodized back in 1578, then operator interface terminals (OITs) are surely windows to the process—continuous, batch, or discrete. And although it may seem a stretch to equate the soul with a manufacturing process, the fact that manufacturing is still the heart of the world economy it might as well in...

By Dick Johnson
Mechatronics and Motion Control December 1, 2005

PLCs Maximize Machine, Motion Control

Control engineers now have at their disposal a wide variety of logic devices to program processes and machines. Computers and computer technology provide almost unlimited control possibilities no matter what the application. PLCs remain a strong part of the mix—a recent survey finds more than half expect to increase PLC spending in the next 12 months.

By Dick Johnson
Workforce Development October 1, 2005

Vital Links to Process Control

The process variable transmitter (PVT) is a simple device with a big role. The link between process sensors and the control room in nearly every continuous process/batch operation worldwide, these devices must send accurate signals to the control network, ensuring that product quality and flow are not compromised.

By Dick Johnson
Robotics August 1, 2005

Presence Detection Crosses Industry Borders

Advances in sensor technology have been a driving force in factory automation, most would agree. Interfacing the real world and analog/digital input to control processes has never been more applicable to a wider range of automation functions than it is today. Automating discrete manufacturing applications has, arguably, lagged behind process industries.

By Dick Johnson
Wireless April 8, 2005

Pushbuttons, Switches Still Compete in Controls

To read the original print article click here. These days, the term “operator interface” conjures up thoughts of multiple touchscreens, color graphics, an air-conditioned control room, and a sprawling processing plant. Software-enabled control systems represent the latest in HMI technology, and, although they are becoming more common as new plants are built and older systems are updated, they are still far from dominant in factory automation and control. Conventional control panels—the simple original electrical operator interface design (pushbuttons, switches, and pilot lights)— still link the operator to the process in many, if not most, facilities.

By Dick Johnson
Energy, Power December 2, 2004

I/O modules on continuous improvement path

To read the original printed article click here. I/O modules on continuous improvement path Input and output (I/O) module manufacturers are not resting on their laurels. The unsung devices that are tucked away in enclosures and scattered about the plant floor are seeing steady improvement in communications, integration ease, and density, among other areas. Not only do I/O modules provide the necessary connections between sensors or actuation devices and the site of control logic, thereby closing the control loop, they also are adaptable to a wide variety of communication protocols, physical constraints, and physical-layer connections.

By Dick Johnson
Machine Safety November 1, 2004

Safety in the Automated World

The words industrial accident make everyone cringe. It is in the best interests of all workplaces to maintain safe working conditions. To further the cause of safety in the workplace, the U.S. Congress established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1970. Its "prime directive" requires U.

By Dick Johnson
Data Acquisition, DAQ October 1, 2004

Weighing Technology

Weight is an often measured and controlled variable. Checkout stations at supermarkets weigh produce to determine price. Roads and bridges set vehicle weight limits. Industrial feedstock and most raw materials are sold by weight. So are precious metals and gemstones. Body weight has become a serious health issue, spawning many products and services to help control it.

By Dick Johnson
Process Safety September 1, 2004

Regulations, Quality Boost Batch Software

The old family recipe: Sometimes it is carefully copied onto an index card and stashed away in a wooden box; sometimes it is scribbled in the margins of an old cookbook; and sometimes it is just part of someone's culinary experience committed to memory. Special recipes are part of family pride—history, lovingly preserved and passed on.

By Dick Johnson
Machine Safety August 1, 2004

Test, Measurement Device Purchases on the Rise

'Entropy happens! Therefore, follow-on maintenance and calibration is critically needed on a scheduled basis. Belts fray, sensors drift, and performance declines (not unlike our human analog)," explains Bill Southard, president of DST Controls, a system integrator. Keeping a control system in peak condition over the long haul requires users to be ever vigilant in their choices and uses of test...

By Dick Johnson
Energy, Power May 1, 2004

Unsung but Indispensable

Control systems come in all sizes and levels of sophistication. From the simplest relay-logic circuit for a dedicated semiautomatic assembly machine to large DCS-based systems of sprawling process plants, they all have something in common—they cannot simply be plugged into a wall socket to power them up.

By Dick Johnson
Process Safety December 1, 2002

Seeing is Believing!

No special effects here-operator interface terminals (OITs) provide the necessary look into the process. Seeing process variables juxtaposed with the spot in the process where they are occurring makes keeping track of the operation more hands-on and less hands-off. This OIT Product Focus article FEATURES AN EXCLUSIVE EXPANDED ONLINE PRODUCT SECTION.

By Dick Johnson
Manufacturing IT, MES November 1, 2002

RFID tags improve tracking, quality on Ford line in Mexico

The Ford Motor Co.'s facility in Cuautitlan, Mexico, produces 300,000 to 400,000 cars and trucks each year. Ford builds vehicles in Cuautitlan using a method of just-in-time suppliers with vendors supplying parts on an as-needed basis. Because of this method, it's crucial that inventory and tracking in the plant be precise and closely monitored.

By Dick Johnson
Machine Safety November 1, 2002

Minimize the Legwork!

I hate plumbing projects! Actually I really do not hate them. Rather I hate having to make the three or more trips to the hardware or home improvement store that seem to be required to get a project-any project-done. Even with painstaking planning on my part, extra time and legwork creep into the job, adding frustration and taking away from the satisfaction of a job well done. EXPANDED VERSION ON-LINE

By Dick Johnson
DCS, SCADA, Controllers October 1, 2002

Information flows at wastewater facility

Until May 2001, the residents of a small community west of Olympia, WA, used individual septic systems to handle their wastewater needs. Located at the southwestern edge of Puget Sound, houses and farms were spread over a sparsely populated area. With the addition of a 500-unit housing development and a new golf course, however, a switch to a centralized wastewater treatment facility to accommo...

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors October 1, 2002

Ultrasonic Flowmeters: A ‘Sound’ Technology

Ultrasonic flow measurement is not new technology. However, it has recently become something of a hot commodity among other well-represented technologies in the industrial flowmeter market.

By Dick Johnson
PLCs, PACs September 1, 2002

Let it snow! Integrator, GE Fanuc help maintain ski slopes

While Old Man Winter is relatively reliable in delivering snow, businesses like Snowshoe Mountain, a four-season resort in Snowshoe, WV, can't always depend on his timely delivery to sustain the slopes during the skiing season. Boasting the largest snowmaking arsenal in the region, with over 400 snow guns aimed at its Snowshoe and Silver Creek areas, Snowshoe Mountain is equipped with a 100%-co...

By Dick Johnson
Mechatronics and Motion Control August 1, 2002

Nano devices lead assault on traditional PLC applications

Programmable logic controllers, which are most commonly recognized as 15-128 I/O-point micro devices, 128-512 I/O-point medium devices, and over 512 I/O-point large devices, have come under pressure from still other manifestations of these devices over the past few years.

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors May 31, 2002

Control Engineering’s Process Instrumentation Enewsletter — October/November 2000

In this issue: Here we go again! Instrumentation & Control 2001 Truly fine environmental citizen Measuring density Rising gas prices got you down? Increasing use of digital valve positioners Archive Here we go again! Welcome to the sophomore effort of the Instrumentation and Process Sensing newsletter. I have heard from a number of readers and, quite frankly, I welcome all comments. Nothing is tougher on an author than thinking information is being sent into a vacuum.

By Dick Johnson
Motors and Drives May 31, 2002

Control Engineering’s Process Instrumentation Enewsletter –June 2000

In this issue: Introduction Fiber-optic level sensing Sensing more of what goes up the stack Keeping tabs on engine oil levels Monitoring H 2 S Archive Sensors go hypersonic? Looking through a different window Just in case you do not recognize this newsletter from Control Engineering magazine, it is new this month. The editor in charge of this offering is yours truly, Dick Johnson . I am the Senior Editor that handles Instrumentation and Process Sensors for the magazine and I will do my best to treat the same subject-often from a slightly different or expanded perspective- in this new medium.

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors May 30, 2002

Control Engineering’s Process Instrumentation Enews — March 2002

In this issue: Monitoring reciprocating machinery revisited If you don't touch it, you wouldn't wear it out An outpouring of data for the control engineer A step in the right direction Archive Monitoring reciprocating machinery revisited I remember it clearly-the reciprocating compressor experiment my colleagues and I did as part of an experiment in thermodynamics, ME 264 it was called then, at the old Mechanical Engineering Lab at the University of Illinois in Urbana. The four of us struggled with a mechanical indicator that actually traced PV diagrams when the compressor was cycled. The purpose of the experiment was to validate some then obscure (to us) thermodynamic compressor performance theory. Thermodynamic theory has not changed.

By Dick Johnson
Motors and Drives May 30, 2002

Control Engineering’s Process Instrumentation Enews — December 2001

In this issue: Major shift in flow technology usage predicted Safety first, last, and always Back to the drawing board for enclosure manufacturers? GE Industrial Systems acquires TGB On-line quality control for 'hot stuff' What a mess! -preventing the need for soil remediation through leak detection SCLE presentations archived for viewing Archive Major shift in flow technology usage predicted Wakefield, Mass. - According to a new market study from Flow Research and Drucker Worldwide (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), users are moving away from traditional flow technologies towards what the survey calls New Technology flowmeters. New Technology flowmeters include Coriolis, magnetic, ultrasonic, vortex, and multivariable dp meters.

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors May 30, 2002

Control Engineering’s Process Instrumentation Enews — April 2001

In this issue: Welcome to the new millennium! A compelling reason for improving sensor technology Shades of the 'tricorder' Do not overlook the impact of emissivity on temperature readings Measuring radiant flux Mini-robots to the rescue Fiber optics-not just for networks anymore! Archive April in Control Engineering Welcome to the new millennium! If the last century saw the rise of process control as we know it now; what does the 21stcentury have in store for the process engineer? Is 'smaller, smarter, faster, and cheaper' going to be the mantra of the next 100 years? Probably not! How about 'Internet-enabled' and wireless technologies that apply to process control? Even though we have heard enough about that over the past 15 years, I feel sure that there is more to come. As long as companies 'have it their way' process-wise, process-specific control will never die. Total flexibility in system connectivity may be what the process engineer of the future is looking for. What do you think? I welcome all comments: djohnson@cahners.com . Back to top A compelling reason for improving sensor technology According to the sponsors of upcoming MessComp 2001, 'measurement technology is the key to a more conscious use of natural resources, which are running short.' That being said, it may be worthwhile to plan a visit to MessComp 2001, the 15thExhibition and Congress for Industrial Measurement Technology.

By Dick Johnson
HMI, OI May 30, 2002

Control Engineering’s Process Instrumentation Enews – January 2002

In this issue: Three new programs help with Control Systems Technician certification New alliance seeks educational consensus Understand industrial processes, measurement, control Infrared sensor market poised for growth Size does matter! So does accuracy in setting food processing records Specialty instrument department: porometer Archive Control Engineering News: survey, webcast, expo, online Three new programs help with Control Systems Technician certification Virginia Beach, Va. - Coastal Skills Training (Virginia Beach, Va.) and ISA, the Instrumentation Systems and Automation Society (Research Triangle Park, N.C.), have developed three new training programs, which will help technicians prepare for ISA's Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) Program. The training programs, available in both web-based and CD-ROM formats, include the following: The Basic Process Control Series -- This 9-part series teaches the principles and concepts of process control, covering many aspects of instrumentation with special emphasis on maintenance skills; Process Measurement -- This 8-part program details the principles of temperature, pressure, level, and flow; and The Calibration and Test Equipment Series -- This 6-part series covers calibration and the use of process control test equipment.

By Dick Johnson
Process Safety May 30, 2002

Control Engineering’s E-News for Process Instrumentation – February 2002

In this issue: 'Smart' sensors pack a punch Keep those instruments in tip-top condition! Industrial sensor market, stunned by 9-11, should rebound quickly Is there a Coriolis flowmeter in your future? Help with flowmeter selection Specialty instrument department Archive 'Smart' sensors pack a punch Chicago - Dr. James Truchard, president, ceo, and co-founder of National Instruments ( https://www.ni.com ) will be the keynote speaker at National Manufacturing Week, which includes the Industrial Automation Show. Dr.

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors February 1, 2002

Old and in the Way?

The process variable temperature is often touted as the most measured variable in process control applications. If this is true (and it most likely is; see accompanying sidebar), it stands to reason that temperature measurement could easily be taken for granted. However, locating a thermocouple or RTD at the right spot, hooking up the required electronics to send a signal to controller, a...

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors December 5, 2001

Control Engineering’s newsletter for process instrumentation – October 2001

In this issue: Can systems be too open? Keeping a favorite ISA destination safe in a storm Are pressure transmitters headed to the trash heap? Where was this technology when I needed it? Heartening news -expansion in a shrinking economy Spring House, Alpharetta, Phoenix Archive Can systems be too open? The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon can be attributed to many factors. To my way of thinking, the determination of the perpetrators to carry out these outrageous acts was helped by their ability to leverage the 'openness' of the United States' telecommunication infrastructure and industry's wholehearted participation in Internet-based commerce. As we have seen, allowing the wrong parties easy access to a wide range of information, including security information and availability of flight training manuals, along with wireless communication can have disastrous results. Control Engineering has written a bit about security lately, before and after Sept.

By Dick Johnson
DCS, SCADA, Controllers September 1, 2001

Enclosures: Not Just a Metal Box with a Door Anymore!

Once control engineers or system integrators have designed a control system and decided what instruments, controllers, PLCs, and associated electronics/communication paraphernalia will be required to make it function, the search for "real estate" in which to house the more delicate components begins.

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors August 15, 2001

Control Engineering’s E-News for Process Instrumentation – June 2001

In this issue: How far will you go with e-commerce? The Internet doing what it does best Rising gas prices got you down, bunky, revisited Something new has been added Chew on this one Preserving a national treasure Final control elements have a conscience too! Archive June in Control Engineering How far will you go with e-commerce? I regularly use a couple of commercial e-commerce sites to buy books, hobby supplies, and recorded music. I love the convenience, selection, and--surprising as this may seem--the service/follow-up. Admittedly, the items that I buy on line are simple to specify.

By Dick Johnson
Process Instrumentation and Sensors September 1, 1997

Getting the Message Across

Conveying understandable process information to an operator requires more than dazzling HMI graphics in real time.

By Dick Johnson