Is that Light Supposed to be Blinking?

Jul 30, 2013 3:22:13 AM | Posted by Bruce Brandt

If finding an alarm on your HMI is like playing Where’s Waldo, you might want to reevaluate some of your operator display graphics. A process upset is no time to try and remember what a flashing light means.

Do you ever get the feeling that trying to find what’s an alarm on your HMI graphics is a bit like playing the “Where’s Waldo” game? There are so many things blinking and so many colors on the screen that you can’t tell which one just went into alarm. Is it an important alarm? Could be, but how can you tell since five alarms just came in at about the same time? Conventional wisdom suggests that people work by pattern recognition and can easily spot what just changed on the screen. There is some truth to that, provided they were looking at the screen when it happened, but if several things changed at the same time, they may not figure out quickly enough which one is the most important.

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Earned Value In Control Engineering Projects

Jul 23, 2013 3:23:07 AM | Posted by Brad Ems

There is a scene in the screen adaptation of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” where a struggling businessman comes to speak with the protagonist, Hank Reardon, in his office and the following exchange takes place:

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Studio 5000 - The New Rockwell ControlLogix Programming Software

Jul 22, 2013 4:06:44 AM | Posted by John Boyd

You will be surprised when you install the latest version (v21) of the Rockwell Automation ControlLogix programming software and see you can’t find RSLogix 5000 icon anymore. If you look under the Rockwell Software program folder you will see a new program “Studio 5000”. New icon, splash screen and the Studio 5000 Logix Designer, but in version 21 once you select your project you are ported over to our old familiar friend RSLogix 5000. Studio 5000 is the product. Logix Designer is the first capability of the product.

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If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Automate it?

Jul 16, 2013 8:05:00 AM | Posted by Bruce Brandt

As a card-carrying member of the control engineering community, I’ve never understood the level of disdain some industries have for automating their processes. I started my career in an industry that understood they could no longer operate their plants without a robust and effective process control system. They realized a long time ago that manual operation of an 880 MW coal-fired power plant is just not an option. After almost 10 years in the utility power industry, I switched to working on control systems for industrial manufacturing customers. To say that I was surprised at the lack of controls in manufacturing would be an understatement – I was appalled! My first project was a new multi-fuel boiler and turbo-generator for a paper mill. The bulk of our control system was focused on drum level control and fuel-air ratio control. Of course, being a paper mill, much of the fuel for the boiler was bark and other waste being burned on a grate. This meant that the whole “fuel leads, air follows” paradigm I was drilled in with utility boilers was really only in place when we were burning oil or pulverized coal in suspension. Anytime we were firing with waste fuels on the grate, we really weren’t worried about a flame out causing a boiler explosion.

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PCs In The Workplace: Will They Survive?

Jul 9, 2013 2:53:00 AM | Posted by Art Howell

I have noticed a lot of chatter lately on various forums and in articles about how tablets and smartphones are starting to become significant players in today’s workplace. The word is that the new devices are slowly replacing the PC on more common tasks such as email and even more complex tasks such as process control. This brings up an interesting question, how will the steady popularity and functionality of tablets and smartphones affect the presence of the PC in the workplace? Will the PC survive or will it gradually yield more tasks away to the newer devices? Or will it revamp and reverse the downward trend and sliding market share?

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Understanding State-Full Programming Methods

Jul 2, 2013 3:47:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

When considering the solution to a programming task, there is generally no shortage of approaches. These typically range from the mundane to the extremely complicated. There is one approach to consider when solving a problem and that is through the use of a state machine.

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ABB Automation 800xA Control System Services

Jul 1, 2013 3:00:00 AM | Posted by Control Engineering Team

MAVERICK Technologies has the trained professionals to satisfy all of your ABB 800xA system needs. Our engineers have project experience with batch control, continuous control, discrete manufacturing and SIS applications utilizing industrial IT. MAVERICK specializes in 800xA system architecture design, system configuration, system maintenance and upgrades as well as migration planning and execution from virtually any DCS or PLC platform. Our device and 3rd party interface experience includes ethernet/IP, Modbus, ModbusTCP, PROFINET, PROFIBUS, OPC, TRIO, HART and Foundation Fieldbus. We can help enhance and maintain your control system through expertise with asset management, information management history and reporting as well as system diagnostics and server and client virtualization. Our engineers are well versed and trained in OperateIT, Control Builder M and the PG2 and VB6 process graphics editors. Whether you are planning an expansion of an existing system or a migration from a legacy ABB or alternate DCS platform, MAVERICK Technologies has the industry experience and technical capabilities to handle your ABB 800xA system requirements.

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How Virtual Machines Can Fit In Your Workplace

Jun 25, 2013 3:34:00 AM | Posted by Art Howell

A virtual machine (VM) is essentially a software implementation of a machine (i.e., a computer) that runs in a virtual environment and executes programs like a physical machine. The processor and hardware are shared between the machine and the VM. The concept was originally designed to help programmers who wanted the flexibility to be able to run several different operating systems on a single machine instead of having to purchase several machines. This helped cut down on initial hardware costs and upkeep.

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