# Where do we go from here?

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#### Curt Wuollet

> Curt, you've said some interesting things. But I didn't say that I was > advocating a grand scheme. > > I said that _right now_ IN THE TRENCHES, there are people working like > dogs to build the bridges you say are impossible. They are building Gates, not bridges. And I didn't say anything of the sort. They need four lane bi-directional bridges not single lane toll bridges. Bridges that can connect anything. > Why? Because we have reached the level of diminishing returns from > automation. There. I said it. The emperor has no clothes. > > We reached the level of diminishing returns from automation in the First > World about five years ago, and if you look at the activity, both in the > field and in the boardroom, since then, you can see it plainly. The > round of M&A activity started because the First World market for just > control systems has shrunk tremendously. And they are going in the wrong direction. Watch what happens to the stock of the first one to break ranks and make a deal with RedHat or Lineo. Or pledges to try to solve the "Tower of Babel" or interoperability problems. Demings definition of insanity is where you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different. The proprietary divisive paradigm has failed. IBM knows that, GE,AB and others don't get it. Modicon has an inkling, Microsoft is in denial, but learning fast. Making systems that don't interconnect and don't interoperate is not going to get you anyplace in IT with the realities of today. > Notice how many of the major controls companies have become actively > involved in "back office" and MES projects. All of them. Notice how > many of the major controls companies have become actively involved in > CRM and SCM. All of them. Walt, you're preaching to the choir. This is gonna happen. What's holding it back is that they are only addressing Microsoft shops. > Notice how the big analysts, Gartner and ARC, have repositioned > themselves. Yes, they are now giving the server market to Linux. > Notice that jobs in the automation sector are declining, while jobs > _doing the same thing_ in the technology sector are expanding at 50% per > year. exactly. > > You may want to suggest that IT can't handle control. Lots of us fondly > believe that. I'd be the last one to suggest that. I know they will. Don't get too comfortable, I think the IT folks can do more automation than the automation folks can do IT. I was IT a couple years ago. I do just fine. IT _will_ take over this middle ground and they will do it their way because that simply makes a lot more sense and their tools cost a fraction of what the Automation vendors will push. They know a network card is $25.00 not$1000.00 and having a hundred different protocols is just plain stupid. This, by the way is who pushed Ethernet into automation. You are saying that this is going to be accomplished by automation folks pushing up. I say it will be the IT folks pushing down. When you compare proposals it will be: Hoards of servers running expensive proprietary stuff with crazy licensing schemes and expensive proprietary networks versus "Oh, we can do it by putting in a router and tying it into our existing LAN" Who do you think is gonna win that one? We both see the same picture, All I'm saying is that IT is gonna fix a lot of broken things on the way. And the automation vendors won't stand a chance with their tunnel vision tuned to only Redmond. > But the fact is, IT is _in_ control. Because the information that the > control system can put out is important, yes, but it is not anywhere > nearly as important as the information that can be bundled with it, and > the information that integrated requirements and supply systems can send > to it. > That's why Automation vendors have to start offering more than toys that connect to office applications. On real platforms that scale and integrate well. IT is not likely to change to meet your automation integration needs. > Synergy is savings. Corporate management understands that. > > You can turn this into a diatribe against Microsoft, if you want. But > that whole argument is entirely beside the point. Much "back office" > work isn't on MS platforms at all. Much of this is on "x"nix and Linux > platforms. Much of it is on MS platforms. I didn't mention MS specifically but the fact that everyone knew who I'm talking about serves to point out the problem. And no it is not beside the point. I work in UNIX shops. I can't do the integration because there are no offerings that will integrate well with UNIX. I am a Linux consultant. I can't sell the integration because there are no Linux compatible offerings. How can that possibly be beside the point. What you say only works in your world. And the automation vendors have their heads in the sand on this point. UNIX is not going away except to be overtaken soon by Linux and IT likes Linux. > What I am saying is that if you want to advance in the new world of > manufacturing, you must be not only cognizant, but also up to date with, where automation fits into the enterprise. But, you can't ignore where the enterprise is going and that's away from MS in large part and towards HA clusters and Java and other technologies that no one is addressing. Windows everywhere was yesterday. IT has a choice. Tell me a way of integrating with a Sun shop or a Linux shop that isn't a horrific kludge. Now tell me _why_ it's such a kludge. Closed systems are poor choices for integration. Regards cww

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#### Heavner, Lou [FRS/AUS]

Joe Jansen posts: ... In summary, The point isn't who has more overhead. The point is that nobody is willing to unlock their communications enough to let their equipment compete on merit rather than installed base and lock-in. And that is really *THE* point. If they had to compete on merit, they are afraid they would lose. (any of them. They all have the same mentality.) LH replies: Perhaps, but one of the downsides of closed proprietary designs are that they are expensive to "unlock", even if they are the most competitive in the market. It is sometimes a challenge for vendors to allow different generations of their own products to communicate. And I'm not sure end users are ready for all their current systems to be abandoned by vendors designing new truly open systems from the ground up. Technology can move forward as fast as possible, but adopters of new technology still have to justify the purchase of new technology. I don't disagree with you, only that there may be a feasibility component to the willingness argument that goes beyond fear of commoditization or merit based competition. Regards, Lou Heavner Emerson Performance Solutions

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#### Ralph Mackiewicz

From the ARC News Wire of 9 Feb 2001. The title seems to contradict recent comments made in this forum. Might be interesting to see what the survey results are. Regards, Ralph Mackiewicz SISCO, Inc. > >>ARC Survey: Change Is the Constant in the HMI Market > > ARC Survey: Constant Change in the HMI Market > > The only constant in the HMI software market is continuous change. As > the needs of end users and OEMs evolve, their HMI software needs and > requirements also change. Just ask yourself what are the most > important HMI software attributes? What type and level of services are > required? What are the operating systems of choice? And what future > requirements will be demanded of the next generation of HMI software? > ARC would greatly appreciate all end users and OEMs who utilize HMI > software to take a few minutes and answer some brief questions that > will help ARC define those future HMI software requirements. As a > reward for all those who participate, ARC will make the results of the > survey public at no cost to all participants. > > To take the survey, click below: > http://www.arcweb.com/websurveyor/wsb.dll/ARC/HMI.htm >

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#### Bob Pawley

Hi Joe: Proprietary systems are here to stay - until such time as someone can determine how to fund the cost of development and maintaining the open software concept. What would you say to a different approach? Preparatory software at the lower level that endows the I/O of any manufacturer with intelligence during detail design or plant auditing. Primary and advanced control solutions as well as business solutions could then be generic and distributed - automatically by function, service, process, plant etc. The lower level software may also be capable of communicating from one control system to another as it forms the common mode between them. Would something like this be of interest? Bob Pawley

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#### Joe Jansen/ENGR/HQ/KEMET/US

Bob, If I were building an entirely new plant, probably. My problem, however, is supporting many different brands of PLC throughout several plants. What I am talking about is, as I mentioned earlier, having AB release the spec for DH-485, as an example. As other manufacturers rushed to support communication in this format, I could begin tying my micrologix1000 to on Omron PLC for data exchange. Then, my Modicon or Siemens could jump into the loop and harvest data from the rest of the line for reporting upstream, etc. etc. etc. I need something that will work now with what I have. I can justify a new comm module for several PLC's, I cannot justify (nor would I try) ripping out the entire control system to replace it with the latest distributed control, open- ethernet buzzword, buzzword, blah blah blah... --Joe Jansen

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#### Dave Ferguson

Although this has gotten way out of hand, and I promise this is the end from me......... Welcome to free enterprise.....If you drive a Ford, a Chevy front brake assembly will not work on it.....If you have a Maytag washer, a GE dryer part won't work on it..........Yet you continue to buy \$25,000 Dodge trucks, what would the economy be like if there was only the "government correct" standardized car version........about a 2,000,000 worker unemployment over night. I think that all cars should be free and only my friends and neighbors should work on them for me because in this world you want......noone has a job anymore. I work in the paper industry and this kind of opinion reminds me of the "tree hugger" who wants to save my forest while living in a wooden house, or wants to stop oil drilling while driving to work.............or thinks that slaughter houses would be outlawed, while eating a hamburger. Give Microsoft a break (substitute Rockwell, Daimler Chrysler, GE etc.), this is the reason this economy has grown, after all, what do you want this "standardized" software for.......so you can make your proprietary product, cars, washer/dryers, golf clubs, and widgets better................... I just read 50 e-mails concerning the downfall of the automation market due to "hitting the wall" on diminishing returns, yet your goal is to "co-op" out the industry and give it away. Guess what happens next...........someone else thinks you should give away free and open whatever it is you specialize in......and I can't wait to hear you whine............. Be careful what you wish for........... Dave Ferguson Blandin Paper Company UPM-Kymmene DAVCO Automation

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#### Curt Wuollet

Hi Bob I'm not sure I understand how publishing the source would cost any more. Open doesn't mean that you can't sell it. Could you expand on your other idea, I'm confused. Regards cww

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#### Steven Landau

There is a system like this on the market. The Altersys Virgo2000 is a bundled ISAGRAF IEC1131, with a HTML based MMI. It can be run on a variety of Platforms from a White Box NT, to AB's open controller, to a Diskless Linux Box. It has I/O drivers for many networks. Take A look. I haven't had a chance to use it, I have some Modicon and AB projects going right now, but when I get to choose the platform for my next project it will be this one. S. Landau SPEC

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#### Bob Pawley

Curt: What I'm suggesting is a program that endows each and every I/O with all data, structure and knowledge of the device, loop, plant, service, process conditions and project - in effect making the I/O intelligent. This approach would mean that I/O addresses, control software language and other soft incompatibilities would move into the background. The designer/integrator would then be free to deal with issues on the basis of device, loop etc. letting the program handle the soft details. Bob

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#### Bob Pawley

Joe Could you justify a control system audit using a system that would record and organize a model of the existing control system from device to I/O? This auditing of existing control systems would be 10 to 20 times less costly than the same function using a drawing based system, This would replace the plant's old drawing system with a dynamic, easily learned and continuously accurate model. It would also have the capability to perform the multi platform integration that we seem to be talking about and make it much easier to apply and change control strategies. Bob

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#### Brendan Larkin

An austrian company called AutomationX has developed a Linux based HMI package which has an integrated soft PLC. This is then ported across to Windows NT/2000. The key is to continue HMI development in the Linux environment, which is open by design and concentrate on data transport to management systems (whatever platform they may be). See www.automationx.com Brendan