# Where do we go from here?

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#### Hullsiek, William

* 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. Suggest you look at some of the Network Management applications and/or Visio 'Reverse Engineering' tools. Essentially, what you are asking for is that each software package or each component publish its meta-model and interface points. I think all you are asking for is that the Control System vendors catch-up to common practice in the IT world. I should be able to plug in Visio into my PLC network, and have it 'automatically discover' all of the PLC, all of the modules, and all of the ladder programs. In essence, each component should be able to describe itself. You don't need to publish Source, all you need to do is publish for meta-models, and the interface, and expose them to user-friendly tools. -bill hullsiek, software engineer

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

Lou, I agree with you in some cases. I would bet the proverbial "dollars to doughnuts" however that if Rockwell /Allen Bradley were to publish their spec for DH-485, which is supported by every processor in the SLC-500 line, they would see many other PLC manufacturers scramble to support it. The competitors would do so in order to be compatible and get into some AB Only shops. Likewise, it would allow AB to get some Micrologix processors or even SLC's into the Modicon, Siemens, etc only plants. And I think that if AB took the first step in this way, everyone else would soon follow. Imagine if AB, or whomever, developed a dumb-ish I/O controller that lived on DH-485, and a remote processor just sent I/O commands that this "brick" would perform. (Sounds far-fetched, perhaps, but I have used ML1000's for just this purpose). Now AB could sell these little DH485-I/O bricks to people running a Modicon, et al. This would expand thier market in this area. Although to be honest, if AB did this, they would probably see their overall market position decrease, as their SLC line is overpriced in comparison to other offerings. I will be the first to admit that when I spec an AB processor, it is because of communication compatibility with existing equipment and not because of anything that it can do. I guess they achieved their objective, haven't they?? As we said at the last place I worked: "Allen Bradley. You might be able to buy better, but you sure won't pay more!" --Joe Jansen

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

But sometimes analogies may be pretty good. A small manufacturer who outsources his service needs looks like this. He might even want to consider lease vs buy options. But a larger organization, say for example a major airline, doesn't buy and replace one airplane at a time. All of the commercial airplanes fly the friendly skies and can communicate with air traffic control. They have even standardized internationally on the comm protocol. But an airline like Southwest that buys only Boeing 737's has the advantage of standardization at the maintenance and operation levels that another airline who buys many different planes from different companies enjoys. Of course, you might feel that Southwest is being shortsighted and locking themselves into a proprietary product. It seems to work for them. Ditto for a laundromat... Regards, Lou Heavner

#### PhilCorso

An aside to the legal discussion in this thread. Who gets sued has nothing, repeat NOTHING, to do with who is responsible? And yes, I'm screaming! Regards, Phil Corso, PE Trip-A-Larm Corp (Deerfield Beach, FL)

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

---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: "Blunier, Mark" <[email protected]> > Although this has gotten way out of hand, and I promise this > is the end from me......... Everybody likes analogies, but they usally aren't very good. > > 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. Good thing I can drive my Chevy on the OPEN highway. It would really suck if I could only drive it on the Chevy highway, and couldn't drive it on the Dodge Highway. >>>>Start Joe Jansen Likewise, I can purchase parts from aftermarket sources. I do not need to purchase my front brake assembly from my Chevy distributor, etc. My Chrysler van as Ansco wipers, GE headlights, etc. These are commodity parts, priced reasonably, I have many choices ranging in quality and price, and yet, inexplicably, Chevy and Ansco are both profitable. ******* 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. ******* I am not a tree hugger, mink releaser, PETA member, vegetarian, etc. although I hardly see where that applies. You make paper. Your paper is competitive to other paper producers. If someone doesn't like your paper, they can go to IP and buy from them. Doing this, however does NOT require the user to rip out all of their printing presses to effect the change. That is the difference. If your paper is going to be purchased, it has to consistently prove itself on the open market. This is what capitalism is about. If I have a better product than you, and it is priced better than yours, I will sell more than you, and you will adapt or go out of business. The problem is that the automation vendors have installed artificial barriers to change that defeat this basic principle, putting themselves into Ivory towers that now are beginning to crumble. Now, if I have a better system than you, and it is priced at the same or lower level than yours, you still win because the customers would have to invest far more to change than what they would see in savings/improvements by using mine. ******* 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................... ******* Actually, I make capacitors. Not exactly proprietary. The only reason we keep our lead in the market place is because we invest heavily in product improvements, new processes, etc. If I need to continually prove my product to be "best of class" in my field, why shouldn't they? ******* 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............. ******* Boo-Hoo-Hoo. This problem is self imposed. I do not upgrade any existing equipment because, frankly, there isn't anything worth a damn out there that would compel me to. If AB came out with something truely innovative, though, I would start to retro-fit. Case in point: The SLC 5/05 processor. Communicates over Ethernet. When this rolled out, I retro fitted all of the lines in the plant I was at to include at least one of these. Had they been priced realistically, ($3000 is NOT realistic for a 5/04 with a 10BaseT daughter board), I would have included several in each line. My point is that if the automation leaders would do something compelling, the retro fits would start to lift us out of the slump. Jim Pinto: No, I have not spent much time pursuing this train of thought. This is just my take based on my corner of the world. I could easily get retro fit approval for compelling systems. What would do it? Well, since I am LOCKED IN to using AB SLC equipment, I will follow that. How about a 5/06 processor which contained the capability of a 5/05, and integrated an x86 based pc, all backplane communicating, that could host RSView, WW, LinuxPLC, or whatever. Some shared memory would slide data back and forth. Form Factor might be an issue, so make it a double wide card, or possible hang it off the left of the rack, and incorporate some bracketing/cabling to move the power supply over a bit. I would even live with an extra "black box" if they could just get it to talk properly using a big mapped I/O, or specific N, F, ST, A or whatever file table rather than those awful M-files. Anyway, just an aside.... Dave: Nokia, etc. pretty much wants us to give our stuff away for free anyway. They can, at anytime however, go to Panasonic and buy capacitors. These are the same size, following an **industry wide standard**. Even with this standarad, we are not only in business, but posted record profits AGAIN last quarter. How can this be? The automation model "proves" that we must use incompatible size, capacitance, shape, and anything else that we can to lock our customers into using only our product. And even despite this "proven" model, our stock goes up, and Rockwell, et. al. doesn't. I think there might be something to this industry standard thing after all... Anyway, I will wait for the anti-rant and flames to hit me. Thanks for the outlet... --Joe Jansen

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#### Jim Pinto

Automation Listers : With all this discussion about how nice it would be, could be, should be to have standards, perhaps its time to refer the List to Pinto's Law of Market Confusion : C=P x V/U where C is the Confusion V is the number of Vendor's supporting more than one "standard" U is the number of happy Users and P is Pinto's Confusion-factor, which decreases non-linearly with time It's on the web at : http://www.jimpinto.com/writings/confusion.html Again, because of the low volume and fragmented marketplace (customized requirements) it is VERY difficult for any company to develop, or support, a "standard". Cheers: jim ----------/ Jim Pinto email : [email protected] web: www.JimPinto.com San Diego, CA., USA ----------/

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#### Anthony Kerstens

Quantum. (or anything not AB). Anthony Kerstens P.Eng.

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#### Dave Ferguson

(Joe) >My argument applies here also. If I take out the Maytag and slide in a GE, >the electrical and water connections all still work. I need not wire in a >different voltage, different plug, etc. Likewise, I need not change pipe >size, faucet connections, threads on the hoses, etc. It is interchangeable >AT THE INTERFACE LEVEL. That is the key point I want to make. What >happens on the processor side of the connection is whatever they want. >What happens on the cable side, though, should be standardized, so that it >doesnt matter whose processor is connected to the other end of the cable. Ever been to Europe or is this perfect world you seek only in the US......... Dave Ferguson Blandin Paper Company UPM-Kymmene DAVCO Automation

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#### Brian

Your request for a PLC with a better overall design than a SLC is very open ended. I prefer to use a Modicon Compact than an AB SLC. Why - I'm more familiar with it and it does the job. It also is reliable, fast and easy to use - as are the offerings from GE, Siemens, etc, etc I think it comes down to: 1) will the hardware do the job you need it to and, 2) are you familiar enough with the product to use it effectively without having to jump thru hoops 3) is support readily available at a reasonable price. If ACME made a PLC and you used it frequently and worked out/around its bugs/features, I'm sure you would also say it also is reliable, fast and easy to use.

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#### Rich Pearlstein

Wow... ...maybe this is why I usually avoid discussion groups. But it's a slow day at work & I figured I would read this whole topic thru. As a 10-year controls engineer who has worked with a variety of PLCs, DCSs & HMIs, (including of course plenty of Allen-Bradley), I am immediately suspicious of anyone who would so vigorously defend the status quo, particularly when so many shortcomings are obvious. Does Mr. Ferguson just work for his paper company, or does he have other ties to Microsoft or Rockwell? Further, what the heck do tree-huggers have to do with controls? When you speak of "your" forest, Mr. Ferguson, is it yours to "harvest", or just the last remnants of a temperate rainforest that once covered much of North America? Like nearly everyone I know in the industrial automation business, I have experienced a wide variety of hassles & poor customer service from Rockwell. But you don't have much choice, do you? I would love to see an HMI package that incorporated a tag builder, saving me hours of laborious CSV-file editing while simultaneously eliminating data-entry errors. I whole-heartedly applaud the Linux-PLC project & its goals. I am convinced that something drastic must occur before the big control companies change their strategy - it's simply been successfully producing revenue for too long. Being an optimist (and a lover of trees), I expect something drastic within the next few years. I'm rooting for Linux.

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#### kiddo

HMI is slowing being replaced with A.I., meaning there's no need for human intervention. The system will be intelligent enough to analyse the I/O, environment, parameter etc given and derive it's own efficient algorithm to operate itself.

At the top level, what we do is just placing "blocks" into the manufacturing system. Well...another of my crazy dreams

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#### G.Ganguli

The subject is interesting, but I think that there's the main aspect not yet considered. What does the Board Room want from a HMI?

If we consider the Human-Machine interface in two tiers, things will fall into place. On one tier is the operator looking at the screen and intervening whenever necessary. At the Board level there's the Director (Engineering) who wants to know about half a dozen patrameters of his/her plant that's been giving her sleepless nights. Because they tell her about how her plant is behaving, and whether it's time to take certain steps withour waiting any further.

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#### Nathan Boeger

Wow,

As I read this 5 years later, we are still dealing with exactly the same issues. Jim, Jeff, and Walt all make excellent arguments and have great points - and, boy, do you guys write well! Their points are still applicable today, and will probably be for some time to come.

I speak with Integrators and manufacturers who deal with automation on a daily basis. The consensus is that the software quality STILL isn't up to par - that the bells and whistles that are being promoted are being overshadowed by stability issues. And the focus STILL seems to be MES, ERP, get it working with SAP, PeopleSoft, Six Sigma, Rockwell's getting CMMI level 2 certified, Wonderware touts 21CFR11 support - Choose your lofty goal - everyone still seems to be going in a different direction. And they're very cool ideas - each and every one of them. The message I get from integrators goes back to basics - we still can't see what's going on with production from our desk, what happened to "paperless manufacturing" we still can't even connect to our existing SQL databases, and don't even get me started on stability of industrial software - those words are becoming an oxymoron. As an industry, we're still dealing with the same crummy software with new bells and whistles - we don't have the economy of scale to do any better, right?

Rich Meritt wrote an interesting article on the commodification of HMI/SCADA packages. He makes great points: everybody's software's strikingly similar and the prices on some of the cheap versions (that effectively do the same thing) are plummeting.
http://www.controlglobal.com/articles/2006/034.html

Funny thing is, when I talk to integrators about the packages their implementing it's either: Wonderware, RSView, Intellusion, WinCC, or a short list of others with common denominators including: large companies, steep pricing models, and the same general quality of software. It seems that the old adage, "You can't get fired with IBM" seems to apply with these HMI/SCADA giants. Ironic that manufacturing embraces old technologies so strongly, for an industry that's historically been defined by innovation.

In any event, I hear "outsourcing, outsourcing, outsourcing", "go with the lower cost", and I would predict this sort of thing too. But I see lots of complaints toward the behemoths that eventually lead to purchases. End users and integrators are telling industrial software companies that their policies and models are acceptable. I don't see anything going anywhere as long as this continues.

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Nathan Boeger
Inductive Automation
"Design Simplicity Cures Engineered Complexity"

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#### Nathan Boeger

I feel like stirring the pot a bit here. What's the future of SCADA? Advanced embedded devices, large-scale, robust ubiquitous networks, Linux, Windows, Java?

Are we making progress?

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Nathan Boeger, CISSP
http://notanotherindustrialblog.blogspot.com

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#### M Griffin

In reply to Nathan Boeger: I replied to some of this under another heading, so I won't repeat myself too much here, but here are my opinions.

"SCADA" - I think the HMI side of it will be web based.

"Advanced embedded devices" - A lot of current "embedded" hardware will be replaced by things that are packaged in a nice box, but which are more like a PC. There is some very interesting very inexpensive (\$50) hardware now (e.g. Marvel "Plug Computing") based on ARM chips that can run a standard Debian OS.

"large-scale, robust ubiquitous networks" - The big problem at the present time is proprietary network protocols are hampering the effectiveness of automation systems.

"Linux" - It will see increasing use, probably in server and embedded applications first though. It's already at work in a lot of factories; the users just don't know it.

"Windows" - On the average engineering desktop for basic e-mail and word processing, it is still quite strong because IT departments have such a large installed base. I don't see it ever having a strong presence on the shop floor though because few people would have enough confidence in its reliability and security.

"Java" - The answer to that depends on the application. What we have seen over the past 10 or 20 years is that the new languages which are successful are used for particular areas of application, rather than being "one size fits all". For very large server applications. Java is a success. For consumer electronics applications, Java is a success. For desktop applications - well that's a different story.

As to where Java goes in future, that is going to depend a lot on what Oracle decides to do with it. And that's the problem with languages like Java (or C#). Somebody has a business plan for it, and that plan may not include you in its future. The best thing that could happen to Java would be for everyone else to pry its future out of the fingers of Oracle. We'll have to see what happens over the next few months though.