Getting Better All the Time

Sept. 15, 2002
Value-adds are in (even for us)

Value-adds are in, you know. Well, you know that better than I do. The days of just delivering a machine to your customer and strolling off into the sunset to the next job are long over.

Today, many machine builders find themselves providing pre, during, and post-sales support for customers that no longer have the resources to do for themselves.

You'll find we've devoted two of this month's features to those issues. Dan Hebert takes a look at how industrial OEMs are building remote monitoring capabilities into machines, so customers and those customers' material suppliers can keep things running without a hitch (web-posted on September 25--


In addition, Rich Merritt runs down how improved data acquisition capabilities are providing benefits to both user and OEM by means of preventive condition-monitoring tools that can identify emerging glitches before they become big problems (web-posted on October 4-


With a bit more time before buttoning down this month, we might have included some user feedback about the Entek XM Series, a newly introduced system that Rockwell Automation touts as industry's first modular and open distributed machine monitoring and protection system.

The Entek folks came to our offices recently to show it off. Seemingly well-suited for companies requiring machinery protection for high-speed and critical-production assets, the XM Series could be another tool to help your customers tailor maintenance activities based on actual asset condition instead of a manufacturer's recommended preventive maintenance schedules.

The difference in this approach compared with other condition-monitoring systems is in a modular design that makes it scalable, letting you or your customers add machinery into the system as needed. The DIN rail-mounted modules can be added to existing control panels, or installed close to the machine--requiring no special enclosures, power, or cooling requirements.

It's one more possibility to investigate in the quest to make the inevitable task of providing after-sales support a bit easier. If you consider all the sources, predictive maintenance activities can reduce maintenance costs by 10-30% on average. That should get your customers' attention.

Speaking of attention-getting remote tools, we think we have one of our own you'll like. We've begun a new online service that makes each issue of Control Design--every page of editorial and ads--available to thumb through electronically in the same order and format as the real thing.

A few years ago, we were among the first pioneers of "web-first"--putting editorial content on our web site before it gets to the printed issue. That's geared toward keeping the site fresh without a lot of worry about whether a complete month's worth of material stays visibly intact. Now we're fine-tuning online content a bit more.

Most portions of the new service are interactive, so you can click-through to other web sites,even deep links,for more information. You'll find it helpful if you want to conduct a quick online search for something specific in that issue.

You'll also be able to print out an article in PDF-quality format, so you'll get a copy that's just as it appears in the magazine

We're also hoping that this will be a mechanism that you'll use to e-mail or otherwise to pass along to a buddy who can get some use from it. Heck, you can e-mail the entire issue to that poor soul who still doesn't have his or her own subscription.

And if you'd like us to notify you when a new issue is up online, click the subscribe button and choose the digital-only delivery option.

Go test drive the new tools by clicking on the current issue image (upper left-hand corner) on our home page ( Use it for a while, and let me know what you think of it.

E-mail Joe at [email protected].

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