Gary A. Mintchell


Wireless January 1, 2003

Exclusive: Industrial Ethernet software aims for ”revolution”

Ethernet continues to make inroads on the factory floor with additional momentum from major automation suppliers' solutions such as EtherNet/IP (implicit messaging) and ProfiNet (version 2). To support time-critical applications, network engineers have implemented advanced functional technologies, such as multicast and UDP (user datagram protocol), rather than simple transactional activities of...

By Gary A. Mintchell
Mechatronics and Motion Control December 1, 2002

HMI/SCADA Software-More than Pretty Pictures

Information and integration. These two "i" words sum up what is happening in the realm of software for human-machine interface (HMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) applications. Customers have said to their suppliers, "Now that we have accumulated all this factory floor and process data, we want methods to present these pieces of information in a way that assists my decisi...

By Gary A. Mintchell
Mechatronics and Motion Control November 1, 2002

Industrial Robots Fast, Nimble at 30

Mention robots and even engineers may have pictures of Sony's Aibo pet dog or the Jetson's household helpers. Robots have also made news recently with products from iRobot Corp. (Somerville, MA) helping troops scour caves in Afghanistan and helping archaeologists search tombs in the Egyptian desert. Perhaps some are even considering uses for the "Roomba" vacuum cleaning robot.

By Gary A. Mintchell
PLCs, PACs October 1, 2002

SFCs aid program development and maintenance

A graphic outline often helps a programmer organize thoughts; maintain an internal logic to program development; and troubleshoot problems during debug, run-off, and validation. Sequential function charts (SFCs) are defined in IEC 61131 as a program organizing method writing programs for logic controllers.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Mechatronics and Motion Control September 1, 2002

Component Automation Enables Modeling and Control

Component automation uses object-oriented programming philosophy and techniques. Although "object oriented" may have gotten an undeserved negative reputation in the automation industry through some software company start-ups that were perhaps a little ahead of their time, it is an important tool for the future of control programming.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Machine Safety August 1, 2002

Vision systems eyes in the factory

Machine vision has been one of the most innovative areas of automation over the past few years. Bulky, hard-to-program vision systems are a relic for museums of ancient automation civilizations. PC-based systems have become stable, while software advances that include graphical interfaces and software components make them easier to use for more control engineers.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Edge and Cloud Computing July 1, 2002

Embedded Control: Heart of the System

Embedded can mean almost whatever each definer states. Most people would equate embedded with small, but a Eurocard 6U size CompactPCI or VME computer platform often classifies as embedded. The term can also imply dedicated purpose, that is, a control system specifically designed for one application.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Control Systems July 1, 2002

Remote I/O expands Pepsi bottling operation

The Pepsi/Lipton bottling plant (Ayer, Mass.) recently decided to aim for a 100% increase in throughput. That goal was contingent on how well the control network of its newly installed conveyor system could be integrated with Pepsi/Lipton's existing systems. The plant needed a cost-effective method for interfacing a high-speed palletizer with Pepsi's existing case packing operation.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Mechatronics and Motion Control June 1, 2002

I/O Devices Increasingly Distributed

Trends in I/O Devices I/O devices are more distributed Industrial networks increasingly popular Ethernet use growing for I/O communication Special function modules flourish Sidebars: Extra Products Online 'Give me enough time and enough money, and I can build a machine to solve any automation problem,' once said application engineers in the automation special machine industry. Well, they were probably overly optimistic, but automation suppliers are responding to the pain felt by control engineers needing to do more in less time while reducing cost. One response is development of increasingly distributed I/O devices. Many factors had to converge to provide distributed I/O devices.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Energy, Power May 1, 2002

Micro PLC offers expansion card slots, low price

The newest member of the DirectLogic line of programmable logic controllers, the DL06, is an expandable micro PLC that combines 20 inputs and 16 outputs of fixed I/O points, with up to four option card slots for discrete, analog, and communication modules, providing up to 100 total I/O points. This new PLC family builds on a 20-year history of PLCs designed and manufactured by Koyo (Tokyo, Jap...

By Gary A. Mintchell
Mechatronics and Motion Control April 1, 2002

Non-contact Sensors Advance for Discrete Manufacturing

There really is a lot to talk about in the area of discrete sensors. Some may wonder what can be done to proximity or photoelectric switches. Surely there can be no more advances with limit switches. Well, that attitude is just plain wrong. Microcontroller circuits are now small enough to fit within a cylindrical proximity sensor.

By Gary A. Mintchell
HMI, OI September 1, 2001

Project management skills enhance career advancement

"Today, more manufacturing engineers are finding themselves leading or participating in multidisciplinary project teams," says Stan Portny, president of Stanley E. Portny and Associates LLC and author of Project Management for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide, Foster City, Calif.)."These teams often include people with diverse educational backgrounds, operating styles, organizational responsi...

By Gary A. Mintchell
PID, APC October 1, 2000

Think & Do Studio arrives

Think & Do Studio, first announced in February (see Control Engineering March 2000 news or Control Engineering Online at, has arrived. The automation software combines control and information technology with Microsoft Visio 2000, and delivers built-in enterprise connectivity and productivity analysis capabilities.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Data Acquisition, DAQ August 1, 2000

Failsafe SCADA monitors natural gas, water distribution

Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD, Omaha, Neb.) can't tolerate a failure in its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system because it provides water and natural gas throughout Omaha. Not only could a failure threaten the water supply of more than 400,000 residents, it might cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars in natural gas pipeline penalties.

By Gary A. Mintchell
Vision and Discrete Sensors December 1, 1998

Putting sensors in their place

The conveyor winds through a maze of processing machinery. The challenge is knowing that a pallet is in place before activating machinery. What is the right sensor? What is the appropriate installation?Typical sensors for verifying presence and position of objects include limit switches, proximity switches, and photoelectric switches.

By Gary A. Mintchell