Machine Builders and Integrators Address the Future of Automation

The Control Design Editorial Advisory Board discusses the state of technology.

By Mike Bacidore, Chief Editor

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Jim Barry, Michael Batchelor, TJ McDermott and Rick Rice—these are individuals you need to know. Four of the most expansive thinkers in the machine-building technology space, these engineering veterans comprise the Control Design Editorial Advisory Board.

As an introduction, they shared their thoughts on a variety of topics, from motion control and wireless sensing to control platforms and cybersecurity. 

Meet the Editorial Advisory Board

CD 1503 Rick RiceRick Rice is applications specialist, engineering, at Crest Foods, an Ashton, Illinois-based company with more than 60 years of experience in dairy stabilizers, manufacturing and contract packaging. Rice has more than 25 years experience in the packaging industry, with expertise in custom machine programming. Rice specializes in line integration, including other vendor’s equipment as part of a total packaging solution. He’s particularly adept at packaging applications, machine programming and on-site troubleshooting. Rice supports and mentors team members in day-to-day operations and focuses on lean-manufacturing initiatives and standardization. He holds associate’s degrees in controls engineering technology and electrical engineering technology from FanshaweCollege.

CD 1503 McDermotTJ McDermott is project manager with Systems Interface, an integrator in Bothell, Washington, where he’s responsible for design of electrical panels/enclosures and the controls programming for them, covering all ranges of industrial automation, including motion control, VFDs, PLCs and HMIs. McDermott is an engineer with 20 years of experience in all aspects of machine design, specializing in mechanical, electrical, motion control, programming and safety. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, aerospace engineering, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

CD 1503 Michael BatchelorMichael Batchelor is instrumentation and controls specialist at Automation Electronics, an industrial electrical design-build contractor with strong automation and communication departments in Casper, Wyoming. He has more than 30 years of industrial experience in control systems design, data architecture, system implementation, start-up, operation and management of projects in power generation, electronics, data processing and business intelligence mining. Batchelor has specific expertise in MES database design and implementation and plant-floor-to-business interface layer development. He’s experienced in Web-based solutions, desktop-based client/server solutions, and OPC-based solutions. He is an FCC-licensed commercial general-radiotelephone operator, with certifications in a variety of Schneider Electric Wonderware solutions, and a reactor operator from the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School.

CD 1503 Jim BarryJim Barry is director of engineering at Arpac, a packaging-machinery manufacturing and service organization in Schiller Park, Illinois. He is experienced with 21 CFR Part 11 validation and has strong vision-solution design and programming skills using Cognex, DVT and NI LabView vision systems integrated with PC and PLC control systems. Barry has special expertise in database design and interfacing for industrial applications using Microsoft SQL Server and RSSQl, as well as experience automating very difficult processes including fiberoptic alignment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University.



CD: Big Data and the Internet of Things have dominated the boardroom buzz for the past year. What is your organization doing to enable that type of contextual information via the control system? And how do you see that type of connectivity playing out in the forthcoming year?


TJM: We use Ethernet connectivity in as many of our projects as possible. Some customers do not want control signals passed via network, preferring instead the traditional hardwired approach. However, my company believes the robustness and reliability of current Ethernet hardware is not a great risk to system control, especially when one plans for network failures and how to deal with them.

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