Position feedback on pneumatic drives has traditionally been supplied via proximity sensors mounted externally or in the cylinder barrel. But now, a new approach based on integrated microwave sensing technology is on the way, promising notable advantages to factory users of linear drives.
Most automation companies showed reasonablegrowth and profitability in 2006, signaling a turnaround from leaner years. Now emboldened by better results, many of the majors are seeking new growth opportunities. Beyond just consolidating mergers—some good-sized acquisitions will occur in 2007.
Measuring manufacturing effectiveness against objective goals offers benefits outside of manufacturing. The challenge is to state the goals and report the results in ways that other departments can understand.
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Manufacturing asset downtime is usually very costly, and one tool that can help is remote service support. However, this requires some form of remote access to manufacturing systems, and by now, most modem-based approaches have been severely limited or shut down. This cannot continue, because remote service is an enabler for some advanced asset management initiatives. Different levels of secure and manageable remote access must be developed to accommodate variations in manufacturer strategies and capability levels.
One of the hottest topics in industrial networking these days is Ethernet-based motion control. Protocols may run solely on Ethernet—Layer 2—of the International Standardization Organization’s (www.iso.ch) Open System Interconnection (OSI) 7-layer Reference Model. Some use the model’s transmission control protocol (TCP)/Layer 4 and Internet protocol (IP)/Layer 3. Some bypass those two to get real-time responses. Regardless, they’re all unique.
What’s coming? 2007, of course. As we begin our fourth full year of publishing, I am contemplating where the various aspects of the automation business have developed and where they might be going.
Small, inexpensive computer chips, known as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, attach to individual parts, subassemblies and completed assemblies. Those tags activate sensors located throughout a manufacturing facility.
While Microsoft Corp.’s Visual Studio is an integrated development environment for general Windows and Web-based applications, the “automation studio” focuses on industrial automation applications, explains Donald Mack, senior marketing specialist in the Process Automation Systems group of automation vendor Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. (www.sea.siemens.com), in Spring House, Pa.
Apply the right mix of people, skills, attitudes and tactics to a project and you get what? “Good things,” states Scott Berkun, author of “The Art of Project Management,” published in 2005 by O’Reilly Media Inc. (www.oreilly.com). But within projects, Microsoft alumnus Berkun (www.scottberkun.com), who’s now a software-industry consultant based in Redmond, Wash., considers people the principal challenge a project manager (PM) faces. And that, he declares, means a good PM first must see his or her work as a set of relationships.
Bosch Rexroth Corp. (www.boschrexroth-us.com) has announced that Berend Bracht, former chief executive officer of Bosch Rexroth China and former head of the company’s U.S. industrial hydraulics operation, is taking over as president and chief executive officer of the U.S. subsidiary of the German-based Bosch Rexroth AG, effective Jan. 1. Bosch Rexroth Corp., with U.S. headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., is a supplier of drive, control and motion technology systems and components.
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