Insight from issues past

June 7, 2007
In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, here’s some of the most useful observations from contributing authors to Control Design’s OEM Insight column over the past 10 years.
“There is emerging interest in the prognosis of remaining machine life. Here, prognosis is a reliable and accurate estimate of the remaining life of a machine based on quantifiable assessment of condition. A reliable and accurate prognosis should provide an understanding (an audit trail) of the confidence level and error bounds of any point estimate of remaining useful life, such as four months plus or minus four weeks at 90% confidence.”  -- Dr. Carlos Talbott, reliability strategist ["Asset Management Is a Control Strategy," June/July ’98]

“Certainly, the information technology (IT) world already is having a significant impact. But industrial automation (IA) isn’t about word processing, spreadsheets, or missing a payroll. Faulty control systems can kill people. In IA, the word ‘crash’ can have a different meaning. The key is the application of all the technologies, including those from IT, to create an effective control system. This lands us squarely on the issue of system responsibility.”  -- Al Vitale, principal, Automation Marketing Strategies ["Open Systems? Who You Gonna Call?" Aug/Sept ’98] 

“Control components and systems are critical parts of operating plant machinery. While modern technology has improved them, needless complexity has robbed us of the profits of much of the available improvements. Keeping simplicity in mind makes systems more reliable. Reliability equals profits just as much as new capabilities.”  -- Andrew Sloley, chemical engineer, Process Consulting Services ["A Plea for Simplicity," Dec ’98/Jan ’99 ]

“Open architecture is one of the most misunderstood, ill-defined, and over-hyped concepts in factory automation today...The poor customer—the manufacturing manager responsible for real production—is caught in a crossfire of buzzwords and acronyms.”  -- Joe Campbell, marketing VP, Adept Technology ["Open Architecture: Hype and Fiction," Aug/Sept ’00]

“As machine builders well know, these traditional safety systems, although reliable, haven’t kept pace with technology developments in the automation world.”  -- Dave Quebbbemann, president of ODVA ["Interoperability and Safety Issues Engage ODVA," Oct/Nov ’01]

“When an operator sees the e-stop button as an obstacle to doing his job, he will actively try to defeat the safety, placing him in an unacceptable position of risk.”  -- Jeff Fryman, standards development director,
Robotic Industries Assn.
["Machinery Safeguarding Design," June/July ’02]

“There are multiple reasons for our second-class engineering status. To start with, our universities offer ME or ChE degrees, but not many offer degrees in I&C engineering.”  -- Béla Lipták, process control consultant [Aug ’02]

“The same automation components (same manufacturer, as well) that we use in Europe cost at least 50% less than the exact same components we use in North America.”  -- Doug Bartow, strategic sourcing manager for electrical and electronics, FMC Technologies ["Purchasing as a Competitive Advantage," Oct/Nov ’02]

“ ‘I don’t really care about standards,’ said a fellow I met at an OMAC meeting. ‘All I want is a line that is economical, easy to run, and easy to fix when it breaks.’ ”  -- Pete Squires, controls VP, Schneider Packaging Equipment ["Building Partnerships Promotes Profitability," Sept ’03]

“In the past, having a relationship with a supplier often meant unspoken agreements through an ‘old boy’ network, and shady deals on the golf course that rarely made good business sense.”  -- Alan Metelsky, controls engineers group leader, Gleason Works ["It's All About Insight," Aug ’05]

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