October 2008 Feedback

Discussing the Visualization of Wireless Communication and Encouraging Future Engineers

Documenting Wireless

I read your article about wireless transmitter with great interest. I agree the wireless systems are coming, but your article also brought up the subject of documenting the wireless objects.

I am the leader of the expert group that maintain the NORSOK standard I-005 System Control diagram. We also discuss these days how to visualise this, and any conclusion within ISA would be very interesting for us.

This SCD standard was born back in the early 1990s as a consequence of not wanting to fill the P&IDs with instrument application software details.

Now this method is widely used in the Norwegian offshore sector, and we are discussing how the expand it to document even distributed control functions, such as Fieldbus Foundation, how to indicate SIL requirements, different communication to field sensors such as wireless, context- based alarm suppression and other aspect of control functions.

The standard has of two parts. The first defines a set of extended functions blocks to which now all the major suppliers in Norway comply. 

The second part is the diagram, which looks like a process-flow diagram where the control application logic is included.

We discuss the visualization of the wireless communication onto the diagrams because it should be considered designing the control application. An open question for us at the moment: Can it be trusted as can a conventional wired transmitter with regards to response and accuracy?

The standard is free for download and available at www.standard.no/imaker.exe?id=10045
See also www.standard.no/tmp/petroleum/Petroleum_ONS2006incl_speach.pps.zip.

Idar Pe Ingebrigtsen

Teaching the Kids

I read your recent comments about engineering curriculum in schools with great interest. (August 2008, pg. 15)  After 15 years as an applications engineer, I decided to eliminate some stress in my life and move into sales management. I still have good relations with my former employer and watched as they spent over a year trying to find a qualified replacement.  At least in this part of the country, an experienced automation engineer is very hard to find.

But there is help on the horizon, and I hope my daughter will be part of the solution.  She is in seventh grade and enrolled in a magnet school that is offering Project Lead The Way  to select students.  Project Lead The Way is a program that  “makes math and science relevant for students. By engaging in hands-on, real-world projects, students understand how the skills they are learning in the classroom can be applied in everyday life.”  (www.pltw.org/curriculum-philosophy/curriculum-philosphy.cfm)  At her particular school, the topics for this year will include CAD/CAM, automation and robotics, among other topics.

I hope that PLTW, along with other programs such as STEM, will rekindle an interest into the exciting field of engineering and ensure that our future is in good hands.

My daughter’s school is Hanes Middle School in Winston Salem, NC. Their site is a little difficult to navigate, so here are some relevant links:

Robert Spencer
Beijer Electronics Inc
Kernersville, NC

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