Dec. 3, 2014 - Growth in the global product lifecycle management (PLM) software market continues to depend strongly on regional economic and industrial trends and is experiencing significant variability. Currently, there is significant business activity across certain global regions, most notably North America, and industrial sectors, most notably upstream oil and gas. While overall growth in the PLM market slowed slightly from 2012 to 2013, some offsetting factors and technology trends will drive growth in the PLM market in the coming years, according to a recent ARC Advisory Group report, Product Lifecycle Management Global Market Research Study.
Nov. 24, 2014 - I reviewed Radica’s Electra back in 2006. The fact that the product is still active says something about the company and the relevance of the product.
Oct. 24, 2014 - If you want to be a programmer, but don’t want to spend the money on the tools, you have some options.
Sept. 29, 2014 - AutomationDirect’s “Point of View” (POV) Windows-based software is a feature-rich industrial HMI with SCADA tendencies designed for machine control as well as plant floor enterprise. To be clear, AutomationDirect has licensed the core of a third-party technology and value-added to it to create POV.
Dream Report, from France-based Ocean Data Systems, is marketed as a real-time reporting generator solution for industrial automation. It is interesting to note that the company is trying to get Dream Report recognized as the global standard for reporting in automation. This is a new development, and while it is unclear to me what this really means, it is worthwhile to examine the technology.
My last column dealt with Rockwell Automation’s Connected Components Workbench (CCW). But there is much more to say, so this is Part 2 of my review.
February 27, 2019 – Machine vision technology has been in use in some form or another since the late 1960s.
November 29, 2018 – Manufacturers have seen massive communication and operations improvements through the convergence of informational technology (IT) – the ever-present systems sending and storing information throughout an organization – and operational technology (OT) – the systems informing direct change through monitoring and control of devices and processes. IT and OT offer significant improvements in plant efficiency when the proper technology is in place to enable communication between the systems.
October 18, 2018 – Ten years ago, as the global recession waned, I observed the emergence of two major Lean trends – one that saw it deployed in a wider range of industries and disciplines, and another that has carried Lean thinking to the corner office.
September 21, 2018 - There are moments throughout history that change the way societies work and function on a daily basis. In the 18th to 19th centuries, rural societies became urban, iron and textile industries grew, and the steam engine made its mark on history. Fast forward to a paradigm shift that began in 1870: the world saw its first light bulb, as well as the invention of the telephone and electricity for mass production. More recently, digital technology has put a mobile computer in our pockets to communicate in ways once only imagined in science fiction films.
Oct. 13, 2017 - In the context of an ever-changing global trade landscape, the Canadian automotive industry must ensure it has the knowledge and capability to trade across our border.
May 3, 2017 - Most manufacturers consider this a statement they can relate to, especially the last two components: do and measure what gets done. The biggest opportunity for improvement however, is through the first two components: thinking and planning.
Nov. 24, 2014 - With all of the continuous improvements being made in process control and automation through more effective alarm management systems, better HMIs and improved control theory and algorithms, we often forget that a control system is only as good as the field measurements and final control elements used to monitor and control the process. Fortunately, the new HMI standards take this into consideration by providing suggestions on how equipment health can be incorporated into tag display information. Similarly, field device manufacturers have agreed on methods to communicate device status for both analog- and fieldbus-based systems.
Oct. 24, 2014 - The Fieldbus Foundation (FF) celebrated a significant milestone earlier this year — its 20th anniversary. In honour of this occasion, this month’s column will focus on how FF has evolved over the last two decades, and what’s in store for the future.
Sept. 29, 2014 - Every signal and network is going to have some noise, but good design practices can help minimize some of that “sound.”
Every industrial network has more than a single protocol within it. A simple analogy for a protocol is to think of it as a language. So if we are changing from one protocol to another, we are effectively translating between languages. And because of the complexity of today’s networks, you can almost guarantee that it will be necessary to translate protocols between different networks.
One of the reasons often cited for not using wireless networks, especially in an industrial setting, are the concerns related to security — or, more accurately, cybersecurity. Though it is true that a wireless signal propagates in many directions, this does not mean it is freely available to be compromised.
One of the best ways to save energy and minimize waste is to better manage your processes and know what is going on every step of the way. ISA is trying to help manufacturers do this, with three standards committees that are focused on developing documents to improve the way we work with our control systems and their human machine interfaces (HMIs).
Jun. 30, 2015 - The future of manufacturing is application dependent and two examples of this come to mind. One is the understanding of black holes, and the other is regarding Google’s internal organization.
Jun. 16, 2015 - My reading list includes more than physics books. I do read “guy” stories, and in recent columns, I have talked about my Saturday forays into the movie theatre to see a “no-content” movie. It helps relieve and empty the stuff running around my head.
Mar. 27, 2015 - People keep asking me what a physics major thinks about of the “going green” discussion. Right now, I’m thinking about 3D farming. Currently we farm on a two-dimensional basis, however, 3D manufacturing is coming into its own and, I believe, coming up fast. This gets its impetus from the existing hothouse businesses growing specialized plants.
Nov. 24, 2014 - Almost everything in automation needs sensing and measurement. There’s definitely a bright future here. That’s why I’m focusing this month’s column on future trends in sensitivity and measurement — a fitting topic as we say goodbye to another year and look at what’s ahead.
Oct. 24, 2014 - Nearly every Saturday afternoon, a friend and I go to the movies. We don’t know what movie we will be seeing before we buy the tickets. This gives us a sense of adventure.
Sept. 29, 2014 - It’s been proven time and time again — small groups perform better than large groups.
February 13, 2019 – When you hear the words "connected mobility," chances are the first thing that comes to mind is Wi-Fi technology that connects mobile devices like smartphones, laptops and tablets. In fact, wireless technology is what enables mobility – and mobility drives data, voice, video and location applications.
November 19, 2018 – The modernization of the factory is changing the way manufacturers are conducting their operations by connecting the entire business.
October 12, 2018 – On the factory floor, every new connection point is an opportunity for operations teams to monitor, analyze and optimize performance. It’s also a security risk.
September 11, 2018 - In Manufacturing AUTOMATION's May 2018 issue, the results of the annual Canadian Manufacturing Study were revealed. Initially, as a professional in the IT industry, I was thrilled to see manufacturers prioritize IT investment. Twenty-five per cent, 17 per cent and 11 per cent of you, respectively, plan to invest in bridging the IT/OT gap, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and cybersecurity best practices over the next three years.
May 15, 2018 - Every year the cybersecurity experts at Cisco release the Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report, an industry tome that discusses security trends and emerging threats. In the 2018 report, the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its effect on cybersecurity was analyzed, particularly as it pertained to operational technology and networks.
Feb. 25, 2018 - “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
January 25, 2019 – Measuring the right things is just as important as measuring things right. Measuring the wrong things can get in your way and impair your ability to grow, distracting you by putting your focus on the wrong things. Success and growth come from doing more of the right things right, and less of doing the wrong things right.
November 12, 2018 – It is easy for me to identify the “true all-stars” on the teams I worked with over the years. They were the performers that not only got things done, but that products, divisions, and even companies were built upon. Some were diamonds in the rough, discovered along the way. Some were fresh graduates with that certain “spark.”
October 11, 2018 – Regular readers of this column probably wonder if I am still working, or if I’m retired, given that so many of the columns I’ve written highlight my recent recreational pursuits and adventures, many of them with my granddaughter.
September 10, 2018 - The emergence of Industry 4.0 and the IIoT, or the Industrial Internet of Things, is causing equal levels of excitement and concern. Most manufacturers I visit have heard about its potential and are aware of the building hype, but don’t know how it will affect them specifically. Depending on a person’s age, the opinions vary from one extreme to the other, with a healthy percentage of indifference. There is often fear associated with it – and like all fear, it is caused by uncertainty and lack of knowledge, fuelled by myths and speculation.
May 10, 2018 - As I write this column, I sit quietly in my favourite chair, expecting the phone to ring and announce the arrival of my fifth grandchild. And as I wait and write, I reflect on how life has changed since my first grandchild arrived in my life, somewhat unexpectedly, 12 years ago.
Mar. 12, 2018 - Five years ago, I started a new company with a couple of colleagues. We put a big whiteboard in the office, and across the top of it, we wrote: In a start-up company, everyone has to make things happen or get things done.
Nov. 28, 2016 - Over the past few years at Ply Gem Canada, we have had iterations of problem solving models used on our production shop floor.
Nov. 7, 2016 - Many moons ago when I was just getting started on my Lean journey, I visited a large automotive supplier to benchmark pull systems. My own factory had started a pilot Kanban between two work centres and I was hoping to gain some insight from a more experienced source. To my disappointment, when I was escorted into the factory, the aisles were crowded with pallets of kitted orders.
Oct. 17, 2016 - I was recently on vacation in Nanaimo/Victoria, B.C., and as always, I did some touristy things. The tourist industry just about everywhere has Lean down to a science. They move many people through a maze, usually quite efficiently. They have accomplished this by analyzing their data, number of guests, complaints, lost children, etc. This has me now watching other industries for good Lean principles.
Jun. 27, 2016 - A few years back, a new CEO took the helm at Tree Island Steel, a wire mill located in Richmond, B.C., with 360-plus team members. He was rebuilding a company that had struggled through a recession and he had a vision — a vision to reposition Tree Island as the industry leader it was capable of becoming and to assemble a team to lead the company into the future. Dale MacLean refocused his finance, sales, procurement and scheduling departments to move in one direction and he has not changed course since. He and his executives have quarterly meetings with all staff and operations personnel to inform them of the state of the business while opening up the floor to comments and observations on what and where we need to improve.
Mar. 18, 2016 - Many companies aspire to Lean manufacturing and its power to change the way things are done on the shop floor. In principle, Lean is the reduction of waste and the focus of continuous improvement throughout a product or process’s life cycle.
Mar. 2, 2016 - While pervasive views of manufacturing in Western economies have been pessimistic for decades, the true picture is more complex. Persistent decline in manufacturing jobs has undeniably occurred, but manufacturing is still a crucial growth engine. Automation is the key to revival not just in manufacturing itself, but as a broader stimulus for innovation. Economist Martin Neil Baily says, “the biggest factor transforming manufacturing has been technology; and technology will largely determine its future.”
February 18, 2019 – Modern machine safety practices call for the use of guarding, personal protective equipment and proper training, but ensuring the appropriate levels of machine safety can be a complicated task.
October 22, 2018 – It is official: recreational marijuana is legal in Canada with effect from October 17. With that comes a patchwork of jurisdictional laws establishing where and how marijuana products will be sold and used by consumers.
September 17, 2018 - Cannabis is set to be legalized for recreational use as of October 17, 2018. For many employers still struggling with how to accommodate employees who have been prescribed cannabis for medicinal purposes, this will create new challenges and questions. How do you define impairment and fitness for work? What types of tasks are safety sensitive?
May 10, 2018 - Results from a Statistics Canada health study, the Hearing loss of Canadians, 2012 and 2013, offer disturbing findings regarding adult hearing loss. Could you or your co-workers be among the one in five adults aged 19 to 79 who have mild hearing loss or more in at least one ear?
Jan. 10, 2018 - One question I get asked almost daily comes from industrial clientele asking me about the emergency stop (e-stop) function on their machines.
Oct. 28, 2017 - Industrial managers are responsible for keeping high-risk work environments safe and compliant while increasing productivity, simplifying management and controlling cost. To do so, they must take into consideration unique and wide-ranging challenges like the use of hazardous materials, complex machinery and evolving regulations.
January 28, 2019 – Does the term “artificial intelligence” (AI) scare you, or does it get you excited about the future?
January 18, 2019 – If you’ve been reading Manufacturing AUTOMATION over the past few years, you’ve come across concepts such as digital twins, augmented reality, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and digitalization.
January 16, 2019 – The January/February 2019 digital edition of Manufacturing AUTOMATION is now available!
November 23, 2018 – Because it’s relatively intangible, the concept of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be a difficult thing to wrap your head around. But it’s essentially a catch-all term for the network of physical devices embedded with sensors, actuators and other connectivity enablers that collect data to send to the cloud, where it can be accessed by end users in your plant.
October 22, 2018 – Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) was, unsurprisingly, the topic of conversation at last month’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. We’ve been writing about this monumental shift in the industry for years now, but connected manufacturing is really only starting to trickle down to the SMEs that make up much of Canada’s output. The reason why it’s been a slow start is obvious: cost. So maybe the better question to ask is, why now?
September 12, 2018 - I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new editor of Manufacturing AUTOMATION. I come to the magazine from another trade publication in a different industry, so I’ve spent the past few weeks reading through back issues of MA to understand what trends, topics and challenges are most important to manufacturing professionals in Canada.
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