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Newsletter Issue # 4

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 


IN THIS ISSUE
RTA Toys for Tots Christmas Drive Recap
Most likely it's not what you're thinking
The big myths you should know about Industrial Ethernet going into 2012
Fun Facts and Trivia



STEAL OF THE MONTH...
Get a free flying foam RTA torpedo rocket this month only!

Email your name and address to: jladd@rta- automation.com by February 3 to claim your steal of the month.



SIDE BLOGS
12/22/11
STOP THE PRESSES! Major advanncement in automation technology is upon us...
12/12/11
Are you DLR Ready?
12/9/11
STOP THE KILLING! IT MUST STOP AND STOP NOW!
10/24/11
What is our Insutry Missing?




 



2011 RTA Toys for Tots Christmas Drive was a Huge Sucess


Thank you so much to all of our customers who purchased a gateway between November 15th - December 15th or donated toys to help support our cause. Together we were able to collect HUNDREDS of great toys to donate to the Toys for Tots Foundation.

Take a look at all these toys!

See more pictures

Thanks again for all your help! We couldn't have done it without the help of our great customers like you!

 

RTA News Team

Trivia Challenge

· On average, one inch of rain is equivalent to how many inches of snow?

· What is hoar?

·On what side of a building do most icicles form?

· What percentage of fresh snow is composed of air?

·How many points does a snowflake have?

 

Answers located on bottom of page.



What is your Job?

A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

A lot of you have discovered that I have a “unique” management style. Unique is the charitable way to put it. It’s been called Lazy, Irresponsible, Undisciplined and a few other things I won’t repeat here.

Truth is I have no interest in managing anything, especially staff. My job is Sales and Marketing. Yeah, I have a degree in Electrical Engineering. I got a Master’s in Computer Science. I love the techie stuff. Love to code. But the truth is that someone has to fill the pipeline at RTA with new technologies and projects or we die. We die, and I have to get a job. We all know no one will hire me.

Because I don’t want to manage, I don’t. Everyone at our little company has an area of responsibilities. Jamin is our networking and new technology guru. He does the R&D on new stuff. Emily has the architecture for the gateway product line. And on and on.

But that’s not their real job. And that’s one of the differences about this little enterprise.
The second talk I have with everyone when they start working with us, after the creating value talk, is the one about sales. Everyone’s job is sales first, second and third. That’s unique and not everyone here is happy about it.

It’s always fascinating when we bring on a new accounting intern and I tell her that she has a sales job. Her eyes open wide, her jaw drops and she turns a little white. After all she’s been in school for 3 years for accounting. What’s all this about sales?

So, I explain what sales is. Sales isn’t calling someone on the phone. It isn’t making a presentation to a group of people at a customer site. That’s part of it but not nearly all of it.

Sales is how Rob puts the tape on the box when he sends modules out. Sales is how Jessica answers the phone (we will always answer live). Sales is how enthusiastic Scott answers the phone on a support call. And sales is how well we follow through on the customer billing and invoicing procedures. Sales is how we make our products fun – like the gateway giveaways program and the silliness on our web site. In short, everything we do is sales.

Without sales, there is no company. We can make the most incredible gizmos in the world but you guys won’t buy from us if you hate working with us. You get a nasty support person. The invoices are all screwed up. The web browser interface is unusable. The box comes looking like a kindergartener packed it. All that costs sales now and in the future.

Because everyone here is in sales, we all pitch in. An engineer not on support for that day takes some support calls. The accounting intern packs boxes with Rob for a while. Scott calls someone back to make sure his problem is solved.

I don’t manage that. In truth, I can’t oversee everything and don’t want to. I just let everyone know what their job is and let them do it within some broad set of goals and strategic objectives.

And it’s worked pretty well over the last few years. I’m thinking it’s a pretty good formula for 2012. What do you think?



Big Industrial
Ethernet Myths

I

t’s a new year and lists are all over the place. Lists of biggest political gaffes, biggest sports upsets of the year and, one of my favorites, the list of notables that have passed on this year.

So, I thought I’d start the year out with a list too. In my case, I like to make my list of the biggest myths that surround Industrial Ethernet.

Myth 1: Multi-Protocol Access

Lots of people believe that if you’re running Profinet, IO it somehow ties up your Ethernet port. That’s a myth left over from the old serial communications days. With a serial protocol, if you’re running Modbus or a proprietary protocol, the port isn’t available to anything else. But with Ethernet, it’s completely different. In fact, right now you are probably running Outlook, a couple of web browser sessions and maybe an HMI - all Ethernet applications just like EtherNet/IP, Profinet IO and Modbus TCP. There is no reason in the world that if you support more than one Industrial Ethernet application layer you can’t be connected to all of them at the same time.

Myth 2: ControlLogix can be an EtherNet/IP Server

Many people believe that you can open a ControlLogix or CompactLogix PLC as a Server on an EtherNet/IP network and it will serve up I/O messages to you. That’s completely false. Logix PLCs are not I/O servers. You can open EtherNet/IP connections to them and explicitly read all the required EtherNet/IP objects, but they won’t produce Inputs or consume your Outputs. (By the way, I am pretty sure that Siemens PLCs act the same way on a Profinet IO network but I’d have to test that to be sure.)

Myth 3: 100Mhz Ethernet is better than 10Mhz Ethernet

This reminds me of the Control Engineer putting 100Meg Ethernet in his plant. He had to have the speed that the 100Meg brought him. Trouble was he had injection molding machines dropping a part out every 22 seconds. He probably could have used 300 baud serial to capture that part data. Unless you have a massive number of devices, in most cases higher bandwidth Ethernet won’t buy you a lot in performance.

Myth 4: Profinet is non-standard Ethernet

This has been around for a long time. I don’t know who says this but a lot of people believe it. The problem is that there are three Profinet implementations. Component Based Automation (CBA) is an open architecture peer-based control system that almost no one uses. Profinet IO is the PLC-centric one that most people use and Profinet IRT is the high performance, low jitter one for motion control applications. IRT devices almost all have switches built into them to get the high performance. That’s probably where this myth originated. Profinet CBA and Profinet IO use standard Ethernet cabling and switches.

Myth 5: The __________ protocol is better than __________ (fill in the blanks)

This is my personal favorite. I have never, ever known a plant to select an Industrial Ethernet protocol by evaluating its characteristics and performance. Never. It just doesn’t happen. People pick Siemens, Rockwell, Groupe Schneider or some other platform and then use the network that comes with it. Occasionally, some group like Chrysler will get mad at Rockwell, throw them out and bring in Siemens. Eventually, they’ll probably tire of Siemens and get Rockwell back. Most all of this stuff is very close in performance, functionality and support. People like what they like, and unless the vendor really screws up they stay with what they’ve had. It’s just too darn costly to make huge changes in control architecture.

Myth 6: The guzinta - guzouta myth

A lot of people that have a serial communication background just don’t understand connected messaging. Admittedly I don’t get this as much as I use to but there are people out there that just want to know what goes into my device (the guzinta) and what do I send back (the guzouta). The fact that there is a connection, that devices have to run state machines, and the whole idea of variable data representations seems to be beyond these people.

Myth 7: My Programmer says we can get it done in a month!

I love this one. Developers want to develop. Programmers want to program. I get that. But somebody in management needs to have some balls and some common sense. Why take the risk to develop software that you can buy? Don’t you have anything else for your software engineers to do? It’s never the initial development time. They can always get something to work – but it’s never one month. Later, when you go to deploy it at the customer site, is when you have to learn all the lessons that are built into the software that’s off the shelf. You end up learning those lessons at a customer site. Very risky. Damaging to your reputation and very, very expensive. But I have no doubt that it will be repeated again and again in 2012.

Myth 8: V6 is going to change the world

IPV6 is impressive. It’s rolled out to all the new desktops and laptops. It’s the standard in China. There’s a lot who recommend it. Better Security (IPSEC). The vast address space means better end to end connectivity and simpler, flatter, more manageable networks. But in a factory environment, except for security, there isn’t much of an advantage. It’ll happen but it won’t be revolutionary for us.

Myth 9: IT can’t manage the factory floor connectivity

Wanna bet? In lots of places where I go, I see that the fight between IT and Manufacturing is over. IT Won. Like it or not. IT is charged with protecting the assets of the company from internal and external threats to intellectual property. With Ethernet on the factory floor, they are going to get involved and you can bet that things are going to change. Security will have to get tighter – Modbus may finally be put to bed, forever. More open protocols like OPC UA will be demanded. In short, the factory floor in 5 years will look a lot more like an IT operation than it does now.

I have a lot more to say on all this stuff but I’m out of space and time here. Many more myths I could comment on but that will have to be it for this newsletter. If I haven’t said it before, I’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy and Prosperous 2012.

 

Fun Facts

 


·A snowflake can take up to an hour to fall from a cloud to the surface of the earth.

·The Romans added January to the calendar, naming it after their god Janus of beginnings and transitions.

·The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagra Falls froze completely solid.

Due to wartime restrictions, the Time's Square New Years Eve Ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943.

 

  Trivia Answers: 10 inches; Frost formed by flat frozen crystals; South side; 80%; 6
   
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