For some of us, one of the most challenging type of work we will perform is a service call. Let’s start by defining a few different types of service calls: scheduled, follow-up, and fire fighting.
There seems to be a wealth of articles detailing the problems we have in our automation industries with finding and developing new talent. There are statistics that say there is a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students in our universities, that there are not dedicated degrees that focus on automation, and that the demographics in our industry will drive us off a resource cliff. The conclusions in a lot of these articles recommend large, high-level initiatives to grow interest in STEM degrees at the high school and college level, and somehow change the macro-course of U.S. education.
New technologies, or more properly technology reporters, have promised us over and over that the latest innovation just unveiled will, in the very near future, transform our lives in ways we never imagined. Well, I’m still waiting for that flying car I was promised fifty years ago. Why can’t I buy one?
Have you ever worked on a project where several pieces of equipment from different manufacturers were purchased with the expectation that the equipment would just plug together and work? On small-scale items, that might be real possibility, but on a larger scale, such as an entire plant or a retrofit of a plant, assuming that everything will simply work can create serious problems. Success must be engineered. Once the mechanical issues are ironed out, there are multiple things to consider from a controls perspective, such as system integration for the different systems, control philosophy, and communication protocols, among other items.
Well, I was pretty certain that my last post on SPC was going to be my last post on SPC (if you follow my meaning). But, I kept getting lots of questions from a lot of people who were very interested in SPC and I said I would do my best to address at least some of their questions.
With the increase in processor power, the number of advanced process control (APC) algorithms available to users has reached a level where everyone should be considering if they can improve their operations by adopting one or more of the strategies. However, in some older plants, a cascade or feed forward control loop could be considered advanced control. So what really constitutes advanced control? The usual suspects involve fuzzy logic, neural networks and predictive modeling, but there are other opportunities to improve control without resorting to something your staff may struggle to understand and use. Let’s look at three basic elements of APC.
I think this is probably my last post on the topic for SPC, at least for awhile. I really didn’t plan on having this one, but in putting together my first two posts, a several people asked me a lot about what the SPC really look like and what you really need to implement SPC. And, since I mentioned the concepts of real-time SPC and historical SPC in my previous posts, they asked me about those as well. So, I thought I would do one more post about SPC and try to give you an overview and what an implementation of SPC might look like.
The first large project I worked on in my career taught me that reusing code isn’t just a way to get more done with less effort; it is also makes problems that have nothing to do with the code very obvious. Let me explain: