Catchin' up...

July 2, 2007
Last week's ARC Forum on collaborative manufacturing again brought home the message that there are a lot more laggards than leaders in manufacturing. Friday, I spent a day at Morley's Barn with 50 or so other self-confessed geeks..."We wear our pocket protectors with pride!"... at Geek Pride Day 2007: Nanotech, Black Holes and Chocolate. Suppliers beware...Morley is back in the automation business. He's working on a secre...
Last week's ARC Forum on collaborative manufacturing again brought home the message that there are a lot more laggards than leaders in manufacturing. Friday, I spent a day at Morley's Barn with 50 or so other self-confessed geeks..."We wear our pocket protectors with pride!"... at Geek Pride Day 2007: Nanotech, Black Holes and Chocolate. Suppliers beware...Morley is back in the automation business. He's working on a secret project with Schneider to revamp the PLC and programming software languages. The main speaker was Peter Antoinette, President and CEO of Nanocomp Technologies, the winner of the New Hampshire Innovator of the Year award. If you fly through Manchester-Boston Regional Airport anytime soon, check out the display right by the entrance to the Southwest ticket counter. Antoinette showed us real stuff, not nanoflurb. He showed us carbon nanotube woven cloth, thread, plastic sheet, and talked about scaling up his process with real automation. I'll be doing an interview with him later this year which will likely turn into a "cutting edge automation" article. I also re-connected with Hong Yu, the developer of Modbus, and his partner, Jerry Gulley, one of the founders of Symbol Technologies, and they have some very new products coming out from Aboundi Inc. like the one we featured in a product exclusive last year: more ethernet over power lines for manufacturing and commercial uses. I went with Nels Tyring, the father of control system integration, in one of his first major outings since lung cancer surgery a couple of months ago. On Wednesday and Thursday, I did a whole bunch of "meet the editor" calls around the Boston area, and saw some very cool things at places like Comark, AC Tech Lenze, Masoneilan and Foxboro. Comark makes some extremely impressive ruggedized industrial computers and control podiums. AC Tech makes some of the finest small drives I've ever seen. Masoneilan appears to be ready to take the blanket off and become the major force in valves and actuators they once were. We were also given an advance look at the program for the upcoming Invensys Foxboro User Group meeting...if you are a Foxboro user, y'all come, now, hear? The theme of the meeting is basically "everything old is new again." Foxboro has both the oldest and newest DCS on the market, because of the incredible adaptability and upgradeability of the I/A platform. So it will be interesting to hear the users talk about what they are doing with it, after all these many years.

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