Many industries must routinely deal with materials that explode, burn, or explode and burn. Actually, explosions in gas, vapors, or dusts are not detonations but very rapid burning of the media best described as deflagrations. Handling "media from hell" often requires many specialized equipment and disciplines (everything from mechanical system design to satisfying numerous industry assoc...
Engineers, trained to be whizzes at meeting technological challenges, are sometimes rewarded with management jobs they aren't prepared to handle.Engineering education and most manufacturing settings are traditionally so focused on completing technical tasks that they sometimes neglect to give rookie project managers the leadership and people skills they need to help their teams cooperate ...
Though the controller landscape is now a place of constant change, PLCs have not yet been replaced by PCs. One glance at products released lately shows PLC manufacturers have adapted to threats from PC-based, "open", and embedded control. New form factors exploit economies of size. Functions previously reserved for large PLCs are routinely found in micro units, for example, floating-point...
Nürnberg, Germany -Winter came early to Central Europe and parts of Germany the past two years. In late November 1999, heavy snows added to travel hardships. ‘Chaos in the streets,’ in words of the local press, coincided with the start of Nürnberg’s major late-fall event, SPS/IPC/Drives-the Electric Automation Technology Exhibition & Conference, held here Nov.
The promise of open control can also be a curse. Control engineers have the ability to choose hardware, software, and networking products that best match application requirements. Since all vendors pledge their products are "open," this automatically means there will be no problems hooking it all together and making it run with no more than the usual start-up bugs.
F or the second consecutive year, a robot designed by a team of students from Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS), a part of the University of Quebec, won the Society of Automotive Engineers ‘Walking Machine Decathlon’ competition in 1999. ‘We’re fortunate to have a great deal of expertise on our team-mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and automated production engineering,’ says this year’s team leader, Michel Gendron, a third year mechanical engineering student. ‘It gives us a running start in the competition.’ Nonetheless, the team begins working together a full year before each year’s competition. Early in the cycle, team members may stop at the dedicated shop and work on the project once or twice a week.
As outsourcing increases in popularity, end-users have more choices than ever when implementing a project strategy. Do they use in-house staff, the professional consulting services of the vendor whose products they are using, or a local system integrator to complete the job? Deciding which strategy to implement requires careful analysis of the best scenarios for each.
Although automation and control systems continue to grow in scope and complexity, end users seem inclined to devote fewer in-house resources to developing and maintaining them. Many manufacturers have eliminated their staff engineering positions entirely, preferring to hire the help they need when they need it.
Many different companies contribute to a typical system integration project. The following list divides them into several broad categories and describes the general functions of each. These are by no means hard and fast job descriptions.
At Eli Lilly and Co. (Indianapolis, Ind.), a leader in the development and manufacture of pharmaceutical products, process automation has played a key role for over 20 years. So in 1994 when Lilly's management challenged the manufacturing units to cut unit operating costs by 25% over the next three years, process automation was an acknowledged key element in meeting the challenge.