Get to the data point
Collecting the data is easy; getting paid for it is not
The controls industry is buzzing these days over the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). I have always prided myself on staying up with technology and being relatively fearless when it comes to trying out new things. Having said that, I am not yet…
2 controllers make bold leap to the edge
How to hack programmable logic controllers
Heidenhain to digitally connect equipment throughout IMTS
Kuka eliminates data silos with PLM software
Terminate the rat’s nest
For those who think it's okay to open a control enclosure and see a monochromatic rats nest of wires without any wire labels, you should be aware, that's worst-case practice
Whether it's the lack of experience of the designer and builder or the OEM thinks it's OK to do it that way to save money or someone is just being lazy, messy control-enclosure wiring and lack of wire labels are just a job done poorly in the world…
What to expect from distributed I/O
Control for massive foundations
How to put new legs on legacy
Simplify press maintenance and management through IIoT innovation
How connector upgrades fit into an IIoT retrofit
Recommendations for connectors in extreme environments
Maintenance strategies for cable identification
When to use a cable conduit outside the enclosure
AI models and the IIoT close the loop and optimize manufacturing
An Industrial Internet Consortium testbed combines artificial-intelligence models and Industrial-Internet-of-Things technologies to provide more than just graphs for human consumption
The technologies in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are coming together in a testbed to highlight their real value in a variety of manufacturing applications. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)…
Get smart; the future will be
Manufacturing’s information revolution
Batch-size-of-one manufacturing and digitalization take center stage
Houlder creates a safe and reliable upending tool to control the lifting of immense offshore wind monopiles
A tool that picks, orients and places a part is common in machine automation. However, when it's part of a wind-farm installation located offshore, it's a rather complex and impressive piece of equipment (Figure 1).Our company, Houlder, was tasked…
Light-fidelity communication: technology in progress
The future is flooded with wireless data
What will you engineer next?
12 steps to Li-Fi implementation
Networking devices for harsh environments
Components are tested for temperature and vibration extremes at RuggedCom.
I’m a software guy, so, when I was invited to Siemens’ RuggedCom plant tour, I was intrigued, as well as excited to see what these guys were doing.
RuggedCom started as a Canadian innovation story in 2002. It grew quickly and found the eye of…
Look before you leapfrog culture change
Digitalization of maintenance practices is no substitute for bringing together people, data and processes
Culture change is a funny thing. If ignored or approached improperly, it can derail the most innovative and profitable initiative and bring a project to its knees. How many of us have learned that lesson the hard way?New technology, unlike culture…
If circuit breakers could talk
Codimag improves productivity by limiting service costs
Cybersecurity concerns continue to speckle remote-access compositions
How open systems are shaping the future
The OPA Forum could have the same effect OMAC did, for what it’s worth
Remember OMAC? The open modular automation controller was developed by the automotive industry back in the 1990s to try and short-circuit the captive-audience mentality that automation companies had over their customers.Only Rockwell Automation…
3 easy pieces: robot, HMI and PLC
Step up the technology in machine control
How do I replace an obsolete controller?
Automation adapts to manufacturing needs
Autonomous machine technology in the future will enable the adaptive machine to achieve mass customization cost-effectively
It seems inevitable that the amount of innovative technology in machine and factory automation will continue to escalate out of necessity. “We are going to need more automation as our planet’s demographics give us more people to take care of and fewer people to do the work," says John Kowal, director, business development at B&R Industrial Automation.The automation will move from the low-hanging-fruit types of applications to those more difficult to automate. And it sounds like that will change the face of automation. "We will need to be more efficient and automate tasks that aren’t cost-effective to automate today," says Kowal. "Therefore, the automation tools are going to have to become more sophisticated, so that they can be…
Should I limit programming to ladder logic or use all standards within IEC 61131?
How many IEC 61131-3 languages do I need?
Make time for innovation
Forget PLC vs. PAC vs. IPC
Power supplies get out of the cabinet
By moving power supplies closer to devices, it enables modular design and reduces thermal-management issues
Moving PLCs, I/O and other control equipment closer to the input and output devices they manage has become standard practice among design professionals. It offers a number of advantages, one of which is that it allows for modular design of…
Linear power supply vs. switched
Zero-cabinet power supply
The basics of power supplies in industrial machinery
How much effect will linear power supplies’ EMI have on machine controls?
Back in the '90s, there was this SFC
Artificial intelligence is smarter than you think
Get control of maintenance
Accurate fishing begins with lights-out manufacturing
Okuma machinery helps aerospace company to evolve into the reel deal
Accurate Fishing Products, in Corona, California, started as a summer work project during my college days in the early 1990s. Design and development of fishing reels in those early years led to the purchase of several Okuma CNC machines and related…
CNC’s future looks bright
Romeo Engineering leverages PC-based control to improve manufacturing speed and accuracy
Case Study: Harry Major Machine modern gantry improves plant uptime, recovery time
Absolute Machine Tools acquires distributor Machine Tool Technology-21
PC-based control yields 33% higher controller functionality while reducing cabinet and machine footprints
Edge Automation throws away the box to solve previously unsolvable engineering projects
Good things come in small packages. There is perhaps no better way to describe Edge Automation, a custom machine builder and automation solutions provider based in London, Ontario. Though our company is small—employing around 47 skilled designers,…
The IPC adapts to advanced control needs
A control system by any other name
Programming a PLC vs. industrial PC: which is best?
How will greater software capabilities and more powerful CPUs affect IPCs and EOI?
Infographic: If You Use Stepper Motors Are They Open or Closed Loop? (2014)
February 2014 Survey Results Show 53% of Respondents Use Closed-Loop Stepper Motors
An electronic survey of Control Design readers was conducted in February 2014 in order to identify usage and application trends in motion, drives and motor technology among the industrial machine builders that comprise Control Design's readership.
47% of respondents who use stepper motors use open-loop steppers; 53% use closed-loop.
Read all survey results.
Electrical data aids in monitoring breaker life and managing power
A circuit breaker’s useful life varies greatly, depending on many factors. The harsh conditions in a mining operation might shorten a circuit breaker’s life to mere months. But it’s not uncommon to find factories with banks of them in use for…
Power supply ins and outs
How duplicating designs can build obsolescence and cost in to control systems
How machine designers can integrate thermal-protection technology to prevent solid-state relay and equipment failure
Ensure machinery durability and long-term functionality
Reap the benefits of designing for mass production
Economies of scale can lead to discounts and savings that you might not have considered
An opportunity presented itself not too long ago when my company was forced to re-examine the use of some equipment in our two facilities. We package dry goods for a variety of clients using nearly 40 production lines. Such is the nature of our…
The art of designing the cabinet with maintenance in mind
Which enclosure fits my needs?
How to address the need for higher speeds and increased modularity in IPC-in-cabinet design
Safety relay or safety-rated PLC?
Safety Applications Become More Complex When More Than Three Inputs Must Be Monitored and Controlled
Machine and robot builders often need safety-rated monitoring and control, which can be accomplished with safety-rated relays or PLCs. "Many applications could use either a safety relay or PLC, but the choice depends on four main considerations: complexity, flexibility, availability and footprint," says George Schuster, senior industry specialist for the automotive team at Rockwell Automation.
SEE ALSO: Safety Relays or Better Diagnostics?
Safety applications become complex when more than about three inputs must be monitored and controlled, or when communication over a digital network is required. "Safety relays are hardwired to perform simple diagnostics and logic, and work well when the amount of safety points in the application…
Relays: Out with the old?
Simulation technology center slated for University of Cincinnati
Siemens provides PLM software and pledges up to $1 million to establish center.
Siemens and the University of Cincinnati have announced a partnership to establish a simulation and modeling center enabled with Siemens product lifecycle management (PLM) software.
Housed on UC’s main campus in its College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), the Siemens PLM Simulation Technology Center will be a hub for developing and applying new methodologies and technologies in engineering education and research, according to Siemens.
Through a pledge from Siemens of up to $1 million, as well as Siemens’ staff support and additional PLM software, the partnership will provide experiential learning opportunities for students in UC’s CEAS.
“As manufacturing companies worldwide move closer to Industry 4.0, it is more…
IML announces next round of projects targeted toward small, medium manufacturers
How design software impacts development time, predictive modeling and thermal management
NIST Project to Give Design Software New Digital Threads
ECAD: Simple or Complex?
Software to enable design detail
When does control design begin?
Where does electrical CAD software stand with the digital twin?
Can you start an OEM?
A great idea may help to sell the first unit, but it can be a perilous road without the resources and design to smooth out the ride
There is much involved to make it as a successful original equipment manufacturer (OEM). It takes a great idea and money to build the first piece of equipment, but unless there is company behind it that inspires confidence in itself and a clearly…
A customer's view of online ordering
Get me to the future
Machine design with maintenance in mind
A proper motor load and speed
A system level approach will find that motor and drive selection is based on both motor load demands and the ability to change speed if possible
There should be no doubt that motors are becoming more efficient by government regulation and the use of variable frequency drives (VFDs). Obviously, using a more efficient motor and running it at a reduced speed makes some applications more…
Cloudy, with a chance of innovation
Are servo and stepper functionalities merging?
Optical or capacitive encoder feedback?
Select parts and configure systems online
Variable-frequency drives and electromagnetic interference
How do you provide overload protection for variable-frequency drives?
Just do it differently
When conventional methods don’t work, change things up and try something new
It had never been tried before. And you know what they say: There is a first time for everything. Thinking differently, sometimes with abandon, creates the most fascinating results.This person of interest (POI) had a bowel obstruction, which unto…
Critical alignment really is critical
How to select pneumatic valves and actuators
Why bother with energy efficiency?
The reindustrialization of America
Hydraulic muscle, as needed
Keys to specifying hydraulic power systems
6 surprising capabilities of modern hydraulics
The Straight Skinny on Linear Motion
Encoders: the pulse of motion
The tried-and-true method of measuring distance and speed of rotary and linear motion requires an understanding of encoders
Encoders are used to measure distance. Rotary encoders measure the angular distance around the circumference of a circle, often in degrees. Linear encoders measure the distance an object moves in a straight line. Measuring the number of pulses over…
How to transform rotary motion into linear
New strategies for old components
Real automation bias
Key positions on encoders
What is motion control?
How do I make precision-motion machinery IIoT-ready?
Servo terminology makes a difference
Know why bandwidth and loop gain don’t mean the same thing
“Servo bandwidth” is a very common term used in the motion control industry. The value is often used as a specification to characterize a servo loop’s performance. But not all servo loops are asked to do the same job, causing confusion as to…
3 key indicators to ensure motion-control application success
Adaptable packaging line improves speed
Servo motion control makes thermoformer bigger, faster and less expensive
Pneumatic use is all about the fundamentals
Once clean, dry air at the proper pressure is connected and safe, get control of the pneumatic cylinders, actuators and motors with proper valve selection and flow control.
Supplying clean, dry air is an important starting point to long and reliable valve operation in industrial machines and equipment. However, switching the air through the proper type of valve to control the cylinder, actuator or air motor is where is where fluid power is controlled.
Pneumatics are a great choice for many machine linear and rotary applications. Unless the machine requires accurate, programmable motion-positioning electric motors or the high-force capabilities of hydraulics, a pneumatic solution is often the best and most popular choice. Instead of electricity, design in some pneumatic air preparation hardware, tubing, valves, solenoids and flow controls, connect to the pneumatic cylinders, actuators and motors and get the…
November Showcase: Valves, Control Systems, Motors and More
New Wireless Application Boosts Safety at Harcros
Integrated axes crank up cold working
Speculating on Valve Futures
The future direction of control
Add vision guidance to delta robots on packaging equipment and combine it with state-of-the-art controller technology for an image of innovation and the future
Over the years, we have reinvented and repurposed JLS Automation as necessary and moved into new markets as we identified trends and opportunities. More than a decade ago, we decided to focus on hygienic packaging solutions for the food industry,…
Where machine automation and design software is heading
PLCopen Software Construction Guidelines released
Programming standardization through IEC 61131
Commission machines with the swipe of a finger
Forget the robot revolution; we’ve got other problems
Ultra-productive automation creates huge need for highly skilled technicians
Despite what you may have seen in science fiction movies, we’re a long way from the machines taking over. I recently toured a metal stamping and forming company and then, a few days later, a local medical-device manufacturer. Although these…
How collaborative robots can solve the labor-shortage problem
Congratulations, your job has just been automated
Robots reach for new heights
How to decide which device is best for a step motor system
Step motor systems utilize encoders to provide feedback to the motor drive or controller and improve overall performance. Typically installed to the rear shaft of the motor, encoder feedback functionality can dramatically improve system performance…
Temperature control helps brewery to expand its winning ways
You can’t troubleshoot what you can’t diagnose
Smarter and more capable sensors
How does linear measure up?
What has one arm and can see?
3D machine vision systems give robots the ability to act without the need for CAD data
Remember the gold or blue dress debate? The human eye is undoubtedly impressive, but it has some limitations. Luckily, machine vision is rapidly taking responsibility for inspection, validation and motion control processes.Robots bring the most value to dull, repetitive and mundane tasks. Pick-and-place applications, for example, require little skill. However, these tasks do put repetitive strain on the employee. That said, the dexterity and accuracy needed to pick an item out of a bin and place it onto a conveyor cannot be taken for granted—not just any old robot can do this job.Automating this process becomes challenging when you consider the random assortment of parts in a bin, a common challenge for food-and-beverage manufacturing.
Where do vision systems fit in the process?
How to bridge the automation generation gap
TIM the robot monitors the health of CERN's large hadron collider
New approaches come in unexpected visits
Take the time to meet with your vendors to discuss your troubled machines and processes
The challenge in any design is to incorporate all the features that your customer desires without making a whole new design each time. Previously, I’ve discussed ways we can modularize our designs to leverage the experience we gained in previous projects. While this approach is good, sometimes it can lead to designs that don’t take advantage of the technical advances the hardware itself can provide. A good design is a healthy mix of tried and true with new and innovative.As a contract packager, we come upon challenges on a daily basis. Some can be solved by reusing solutions from similar opportunities, while others need a new approach. One such application is a means by which to sense product dropping from a quad cup filler. A cup…
How to ensure safety in wireless presence sensing
How to maintain presence sensors
How to apply presence sensors
Which devices do it all for presence sensing?
Founders Brewing monitors, captures and controls critical process variables to produce successful test brews
Well-balanced, unremarkable beers don’t attract new customers, and they certainly don’t win awards. It takes complex, in-your-face ales with huge aromatics, big body and lots of flavor to make waves in the competitive brewing industry. And you…
Hot options for temperature measurement
How to troubleshoot and calibrate 4-20 mA
How to tune PID loops
Process variables and the art of calibrating instruments
More methods for planning a safety upgrade
Seven industry experts on how to consider design, integration, testing and operation
A Control Design reader writes: I work at a packaging plant where safety upgrades to palletizing equipment excessively stopped the machine and confused multiple technicians, ultimately leading to some of the safety measures being bypassed, which…
How to plan a safety upgrade
A complete safety solution
Intrinsic safety comes with requirements
Options for HMIs in explosive atmospheres
Compliance for robots in collaborative and other applications
Finding common ground in a world of numerous environments.
Compared to traditional industrial sectors, robotics is a relatively young field with only about 40 years of deployment history in workplace environments. Technology within this field however is advancing incredibly fast, and thus compliance needs to adapt to keep pace with these rapid changes. Another challenge is how to convey the myriad facets of compliance comprehensibly to end customers and integrators for issues such as knowing when a robot system is really compliant or what the requirements to which the robot and robot system have to comply are.
The first thing, which has to be clarified for the topic of compliance, is always in what industry and for which purpose the robot system will be used. Compliance requirements differ from…
How to make the right safety and sensing decisions
How machine vision systems and robots have influenced each other
The impact non-vision sensing and robotics have on each other
Applications that will benefit from collaborative robot innovations
4 solutions to the 3 biggest cybersecurity challenges
Industrial control systems need protection, too
Cybersecurity and the threat of malicious actors make headlines every day. Boards of directors are recognizing cyber threats as one of the most significant risks. To date, this cybersecurity discussion has centered largely on IT systems; however,…
Zero day cyber threats
DOD-backed DMDII Cyber Hub for Manufacturing enables cybersecurity technology experimentation for factory floor
Technology and the future of employment
The Internet's unintended consequences
Integrator grows business with better, faster and modular design and build
Time is money, so taking less time to design, program and integrate a system is money in the bank. Inovatech Automation in Macomb, Michigan, understands this as well as any machine builder does, and it shows in the well-thought-out machines it…
A better interface
Open-source PLC and HMI library makes headway
3 HMI configurations for hazardous areas
The long useful life of innovation
Add hard work to your observations, analysis and documentation, and you just might invent something
Dr. Otto Fest, president of Otek, maker of the Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) and Universal Panel Meter (UPM), is a smart guy whose wit and work ethic have contributed largely to his success. Even now, in his 80s, Fest works seven days a week. “I…
22 tips to ensure control panel maintainability
What’s the best way to measure, control and display?
Universal Panel Meter is configurable for measurement, display or control
Panel Meters Take on PLC Chores
The extreme IPC
IPCs get the job done and are right at home on the factory floor, where the office PC is a bit out of its element.
The benefits of using an industrial computer (IPC) instead of a commercial-grade PC when the application required rugged and reliable equipment are numerous. IPCs can cost three to five times as much as their commercial-grade counterparts. However,…
Vendor-supplied or open-source HMI software?
PLCs, PACs and IPCs ─ controller terminology explained
The more controls change, the more familiar they become
A variety of improved options are provided by industrial PCs
Manage alarms without being overwhelmed
Operators need different information than maintenance personnel
The most critical HMI notification, the alarm, has important information for both operators and maintenance personnel. Our panel of experts advises how to manage alarms to ensure high-severity alarms receive the attention they need.
Alarms are an…
3 alarm types to manage with HMI
The best ways to indicate alarms and to confirm proper operator action
The human factors of panel layout
Harsh environments call for more rugged components
Stack the lights in your favor
The tried and true discrete-signal stack light will have its place above production floors about as long as a stoplight at a street intersection tells us what's expected
Question: What sometimes makes you stomp on the gas, slam on the brakes or continue what you are doing? That would be a traffic stoplight or possibly a stack light on the manufacturing floor.There are many ways to display status of a production…
Why and when to upgrade from indicator lights to an HMI display
Do stack lights make the most sense for my assembly line?
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