Energy efficiency report


New report challenges simplistic claims for energy efficiency in automation processes


The energy report provides a simple introduction to the subject of efficiency with pneumatic and electric drives.

Festo has published a new report which evaluates energy efficiency measures in the automation and positioning technology fields. The report helps manufacturers to better understand and identify methods, tools and the alternative advantages of pneumatic and electric drive technologies for improving energy efficiency in automation processes.

The report provides a simple introduction to the subject of efficiency with pneumatic and electric drives. The paper has been produced as part of a joint ‘EnEffAH’ project, part of the German Government’s energy research programme, and clearly outlines a broad range of technical and organisational topics. It explores the basic principles and measures for increasing energy efficiency and shows that the correct selection of technology (effectiveness) and the correct operation (efficiency) are critical.

“Energy is an ever-more important issue and this guide is an excellent opportunity to become acquainted with pneumatic and electric drives systems as a whole,” says Steve Sands, Product Manager at Festo. “The research shows that the requirements of the application entirely determine the right technology mix for energy efficiency.”

“As one of the leading automation technology companies, we have a deep understanding of both pneumatic and electric drive technologies. Through this report we can share our knowledge to help our customers make informed decisions on the correct selection of technology to maximise their energy efficiency.”

Steve concludes: “There are no quick-fix solutions for increasing energy efficiency, as it must be viewed in an overall context. Trying to save money at a component level without considering the overall system is in-effective and parameters must be looked at in detail to provide lasting efficiencies and savings. Life time costs really must be considered; it makes no sense for it to take 10 years to achieve a payback on an initial investment through improved efficiency if the expected life of the machine is only five years! Selecting the right measures and using drive technology correctly, means notable energy and cost savings can and must be reached.”

The secret is in the mix: the most energy-efficient solution will often be a mixture of electric and pneumatic drive technology

The secret is in the mix: the most energy-efficient solution will often be a mixture of electric and pneumatic drive technology

Floreat Jim Pinto!


Many readers of Read-out, and followers the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost and our assorted blogs look forward to Jim Pinto’s insights as narrated in his newsletter, Connections for Growth & Success™, which is published now at varyingly regular or irregular times. The September issue has just hit our mailbox and is as usual filled with interesting and thought provoking insights.

For many years he hosted what were called Automation Company Weblogs, originally intended as an aid to the improvement to the running these companies by showing what people thought should be done. The companies themselves rarely appreciated the good intentions behind these writtings and observations which, I think, meant that these descended into a collection of gripes, real and imagined, into the activities and/or idiosyncracies of these enterprises.

He comments: “Many regular website visitors will have noticed that, after 10 years, I stopped the automation company weblogs. The consistent negativity was getting me down, and I’m happy I stopped. Some cynics actually wondered if I’d been “bought off”, while most others wrote with positive support and understanding. I must tell you, I did consider giving up on eNews. But, I’m a writer. As my friend Jack Grenard said, “a writer cannot not write”. So, I’ve decided to continue to write the “irregular and irreverent” eNews. But, the tone and flavor will change. It won’t focus much on automation business commentary. So, those who’ve signed up for automation company news may not wish to stay on the list. For those, please send me a simple email with “Remove from eNews” in the subject line or text.”

However we need not fear that he is, like all good rugby players, in any danger of fading away. In fact I think he is more active than he ever was in his eventful life in automation! And again to streach my rugby analogy still ready for a set scrummage any time! “I’ll continue to write my monthly column for Automation World – I’ve been doing that for about 10 years now and I’ve witnessed the magazine’s emergence to US leadership in the automation business. Founder and editorial director Gary Mintchell feeds me with ideas and I enjoy his regular demands to come up with original, challenging editorial. Your regular feedback is gratifying  – thank you! Being a Technology Futurist remains my primary avocation, so you’ll read more of my prognostications. In addition, I’ll include commentary on societal trends (I’ll avoid politics) and global economic shifts (related to futures). And anything else I can sniff out; wherever my nose leads. In addition to my writing, I do an occasional consulting gig with people or companies I like. Plus my regular speaking engagements which often generate enjoyable world travel. Hey! If your company needs an entertaining and motivating speaker for your sales meeting or industry gathering, please get in touch.”

I have heard him speak and what he says in no idle boast, he is interesting, entertaining and above all challenging. Book him and tell him Read-out told you to.

And our message to Jim Pinto is simple, “Floreat!”

Rising demand and competition drives proximity sensor market


After the devastating recession in 2009, the market for proximity sensors recovered quickly in 2010 and marginally exceeded pre-crisis levels in 2011.  In 2012, we see a slowdown in growth but positive momentum will continue to dominate the market developments from 2013 onwards.  Overall ARC expects a CAGR of around 8 percent during the forecast horizon.

The market for proximity sensors is strongly connected to the business cycle and the overall performance of automation markets.  During the last few years, most products have commoditized and reached a mature state, the only exception is ultrasonic sensors.  The latter still offer the potential to technically differentiate from competitors, and markets are growing fast despite falling prices.  For inductive and capacitive sensors, prices have nearly bottomed out.

“The proximity sensor market is mature, highly competitive, and hosts a large number of suppliers.  This has created a market that appears settled, but actually has a lot of movement going on beneath the surface.  This especially includes brand labeling and partnering agreements,” according to Analyst Florian Güldner, the principal author of ARC’s “Proximity Sensors Worldwide Outlook”.

IO-Link Further on the Rise
Smart sensing is a market that we expect to grow at an above average rate during the forecast horizon.  The technology enables new applications and enhanced performance in existing applications.  Proximity sensors are normally not equipped with a microcontroller for signal processing simply for cost reasons.  We talk about smart proximity sensors if:

  • A sensor communicates more than its measured variable
  • A sensor has built-in intelligence to self-adjust to the environment or the detected object
  • A sensor can communicate with the controller or other devices to receive parameters
  • A sensor is enabled for band-sensing

The definition includes all devices using IO-Link.  The additional intelligence also adds complexity and cost, and ARC sees ultrasonic, photoelectric, and capacitive sensors as the first target markets for smart sensors.  IO-Link has a strong value proposition for end users, sensor manufacturers, and also machine builders.  “We see this technology growing much stronger during the forecast horizon,” according to Florian Güldner.

Ultrasonic Sensing Grows Faster than Market Average
Ultrasonic sensors is a fledgling market in the discrete sensing sector.  The technical challenges, combined with relatively high R&D costs, have kept many suppliers of low-cost products from entering the market.

Compared to other discrete sensor markets, technological advancements are still possible.  As the technology gets more reliable and accurate, many applications which have previously relied on photoelectric and capacitive technologies now use ultrasonic sensors.  These can lead to increased competition with capacitive sensors and photoelectric sensors.  The high growth rates, in turn, will certainly attract new market participants. In general, extensive brand labeling is one of the key characteristics in the ultrasonic sensor market.

New editor in chief for automation journal


Dr. Ahmad B. Rad is to be the new editor-in-chief of ISA Transactions, beginning January 2012, when he succeeds Dr. R. Russell Rhinehart.

Dr Ahmed Rad

ISA Transactions is a journal of advances and state-of-the-art in the science and engineering of measurement and automation, of value to leading-edge industrial practitioners and applied researchers.

“Dr. Ahmad Rad has been one of the key participants in managing reviews, soliciting manuscripts, and seeking both scientific excellences with a practice balance,” said Dr. R. Russell Rhinehart, ISA Transactions past editor-in-chief. “During Dr. Rad’s 10 years as an Associate Editor, he energetically and creatively shaped the direction and continuous improvement of ISA Transactions.  I am sure that his leadership will continue, and that ISA Transactions – The Journal of Automation will rise to even greater international impact.”

Dr. Rad received the B.Sc. degree in engineering from Abadan Institute of Technology, Abadan, Iran, the M.Sc. degree in control engineering from the University of Bradford, Bradford, U.K., and the Ph.D. degree in control engineering from the University of Sussex, Brighton, U.K., in 1977, 1986 and 1988, respectively. He is currently a professor at the school of Engineering Science of Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Prior to this appointment, Rad served as chair of Robotics and Mechatronics at the Faculty of Engineering and Industrial Sciences of Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, and as professor of Electrical Engineering at the Department of Electrical Engineering of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. He has also worked as a control and instrumentation engineer in the oil industry for seven years from 1977 to 1984.

Dr. Rad’s research interests include autonomous systems, robotic systems, intelligent process control, time delay system identification and adaptive control. He has served as a member of editorial board and an associate editor of ISA Transactions since 1999.

“We are very pleased that such a distinguished scholar as Dr. Ahmad Rad has agreed to fill the formidable space being left by Dr. Russ Rhinehart after 14 years at the editorial helm of ISA Transactions,” said Eoin Ó Riain, vice president of the ISA Publications Department. “Dr. Rhinehart is a hard act to follow but we know that in his experience in working with Russ on ISA Transactions, Dr. Rad has a keen grasp of the journal, how it has developed under Dr. Rhinehart’s editorial leadership and the correct mix between practice and theory, which has made it the success it is. We look forward to seeing Dr. Rad’s own insights and the further development of ISA Transactions in the years of his editorship.”

The talk is over!


For a short time the ProTalk resource founded by Chris Rand and Andy Pye in the final years of the last millenium was a unique feature on the internet skyline. We used it ourselves to publicise various issues or functions and it proved a usefule archive as well. We used two of the talk sites EngineeringTalk, edited at the start by Chris himself and ProcessingTalk which was edited by Nick Denbow, now editor on Industrial Automation Insider. Chris Rand is now Business Marketing OnLine (BMON) and Andy Pye is with Carosel Internet Publishing.


This resource was sold to Centaur Media about five years ago and proceeded as before for a while then we noticed that releases from ourselves were being rejected as “unsuitable” for reasons which may have been understandable to the management but certainly not to this correspondent. “I was responsible for removing your story which I did not feel was suitable for the site…as managing editor, I have shifted the emphasis of the site to a harder concentration on product and service news, and application stories.” (email 22 Oct 2010).  It appeared to us, perhaps wrongly, that editorial decisions were being made by people other than the appointed editors and which tended to undermine them. The result, whatever the reason, is that we stopped altogether from using this and indeed eventually they appeared to discontinue sending us the weekly issues. However we have since discovered that in fact they had not done so but that it was been sent from a different email address which was being caught in our spamarrest system as junk. But that is a completely different kettle of red herrings!

The result was that we started to publish press releases which we received on our own blogspot – instsignpost. This site which, while it does not set the automation world on fire, is a useful resource with a steady stream of visitors.

Today we received the latest issue of BMON’s emessage – usually, short succint and only takes a minute to glance through – Evolution – or even revolution – for the Pro-Talk websites, in which were links which we found interesting on the transition of ProTalk from a number of different strands or sectors “into a more centralised resource, closely linked to The Engineer, Centaur’s flagship engineering publication.” This new entity is called The Source.

One of the sites he links into is an examination of the philosophy which led from ProTalk to Source by Richard Stone in his Stone Junction blog.  His blog concludes with a wish which expresses this writers hope too! “Whether Source can achieve anything like the dominance that EngineeringTalk had is a real question. I hope either it, or someone else, can. Because we’ve missed you EngineeringTalk ;-)”

Boosted attendance at user group event!


Focus is on transformation, via mobilization and virtualization

Nick Denbow reports in July’s Industrial Automation Insider

The Honeywell User Group convened again mid June, in Phoenix, Arizona, for the annual meeting, billed as for the Americas, but with 1000 plus attendees from 34 countries, it was more like a world event – back at the attendance levels of 2007, and double those from last year (INSIDER, July 2010 page 4). However, as Gary Mintchell observed, and pointed out in his FeedForward blog, the ratio of staff to users has decreased in these events, so the user numbers were even more impressive. Just like last year, Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), opened the conference with a keynote speech commenting on four vital elements: – for 2010 you may remember they were the “-ty” elements, like uncertainty, and availability (of capital), safety and security, availability (of engineers), and utilities (green energy and water). Some of these came through to 2011, but there was no mention of uncertainty and capital availability as constraints, which must reflect a general upward mood-swing.

Business transformation
For this year the four vital elements are all “-ations”: spelling them out we have “globalization, mobilization, integration and collaboration” quoted as the vital elements in the competitive marketplace. To respond to this, Gilsdorf declares that Honeywell has changed: “We’ve evolved from being an automation company to a business transformation company,” enabling customers to make “faster decisions, better decisions, decisions in remote-access areas and decisions that will improve profitability.”

• See also Honeywell Shows Off New Technology at Annual User Group Meeting from ControlGlobal

• Where Technology Shapes Solutions, from HUG 2011  (Bill Leydon Intech/ Jul’11)

Mobilization of people and assets is important, Gilsdorf said, but process industries are really only just beginning to adapt to this trend. By mobilization, he means information transfer to people on the plant or on the move: “Getting information to the right place, to the right experts, wherever they are in the world, can also create a competitive advantage.” Mobile computing devices are being used within industry: “We need to learn to leverage that in the process industries—so you can make faster decisions, better decisions, decisions that sometimes don’t need operator intervention, decisions that help you solve problems better, in a faster way,” he said.

The emphasis of OneWireless at Honeywell is now pointed more at information flow than just at wireless plant sensors and controls. This is the essence of business transformation, using techniques available within automation systems to add more value, enable better business decisions. Integration and collaboration

Integration and collaboration means Honeywell has been working more closely with the supply chain, with companies such as Microsoft, IBM and SAP, and also refers to the recent acquisitions of Matrikon and RMG: the careful addition of such acquisitions is seen as a Honeywell strength. However, maybe the recent focus on acquisitions like Enraf and RMG has brought management attention back onto field devices, where they realize that investment has lagged behind competitors: one of the new divisions created is to concentrate on field instruments. Gary Mintchell also reported that Gilsdorf is forecasting increased investment to add more intelligence onto standard field devices in the coming year. He also has committed to bring in 50 new young engineers into HPS centres across the world every year, to enhance both HPS and the industry in terms of youth and expertise.

Latest product developments
Jason Urso, chief technology officer at HPS, then detailed some of the major new product launches and developments of interest for 2011, in a fairly packed presentation. First came the Honeywell approach to reducing TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), a critical priority for HPS. Major user attention in Phoenix was paid to all lectures discussing virtualization technology, to be available with the Experion PKS, via the Honeywell collaboration with VMWare, by Q3 2011 (VMWare was a sponsor of the HUG conference, as were Microsoft and Matrikon). Virtualization is promoted by HPS since it can reduce the PC hardware users need on site by around 90% in some cases.

Mobilization now allows DCS information to be transmitted via OneWireless from the Experion PKS to integrate smart devices in the field network, such as the Dolphin operator interface from Honeywell Hand Held Products, making operators more efficient in the field: also data can be transmitted securely to commercial devices, such as iPhone and iPad.

Personal gas alarm
Also for these mobile operators, Honeywell are still planning the launch of the personal gas alarm and wireless locator in 2011: first discussed at the HUG European meeting in October 2010 (INSIDER November 2010, page 3) this was new to the US audience, and described as “game changing” by Urso, so possibly includes other capabilities.

Similar devices offered for lone worker protection (but in non-hazardous areas) by Intelligent Distributed Controls in the UK use ZigBee wireless communications, and include temperature monitoring and a positional location engine, based on the inputs from built-in accelerometers: these sensors also provide a tilt alarm, triggering if the operator should fall. The basic Honeywell concept is for a five gas detector, which alarms locally and back in the control room, with an ability to provide location information on the plant, so help can be despatched – for example if there is no movement or response. The location data can also be used to alert control rooms if personnel or contractors, equipped with the devices, stray into areas of plant where systems are being started up, etc. A n o t h e r OneWireless capability introduced at HUG was the Wireless Rotating Equipment Solution, a package of the XYR6000 Multiplexer wireless vibration monitor and the enhanced Asset Manager R400 software for online performance and condition monitoring, targeted at assets that were not previously monitored with static vibration monitors. The XYR6000 offers a four year battery life from field replaceable intrinsically safe batteries.

•The next HUG is scheduled for Phoenix (AZ US) 10-15 June 2012.

Industrial Automation INSIDER is Britain’s only independent subscription newsletter providing industrial measurement and control systems users and suppliers with a monthly update on the continuing evolution and convergence of systems technologies.

Each month it reports on and provides informed comment on developments as they affect every industry sector from chemicals, petrochemicals and utilities to building automation, pharmaceuticals, food and drink and discrete piece part manufacture.

Automation and power highlighted at conference


Record attendance at ABB conference

Automation & Power World 2011 was held in Orlando,(FL US) in April. This is now an annual event showcasing the products and expertise of the huge multinational group ABB.

ABB Automation & Power World
18-21 April 2011, Orlando, (FL US)

APWorld YouTube and
ABB’s own Blog from the Event: Automation & Power World. Also the ABB YouTube site which includes video snippits from the event!

Show News – produced by Contr0lGlobal
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3Gary Mintchell’s Feed Forward!:
ABB A Technology Company Converging Power and Automation (19 Apl)
Part II (21 Apl)
Further reports from Automation World on #APWorld

Bill Lydon, InTech &
From the Field (May’11)

Nick Denbow, IAI: Resurrection at ABB Conference (May’11)

Though we were not there we were able to follow proceedings somewhat thanks to tweets from the organisers and attendees. We are particularly grateful for the independent contributions from Control’s Walt Boyes and Automation World’s Gary Mintchel and we have included links to their blogs in the box on the right.

Numbers exceeded projected event attendance expectations according to the organisers. The conference attracted a record number of participants for any ABB event, totaling more than 4,200 attendees.

ABB Automation & Power World, #APworld for those on twitter, is a three-day, comprehensive users conference and exhibition that showcases the group’s extensive automation and power offerings and expertise under one roof, “the widest range of technologies from one company at any one conference.”  The 2011 event included more than over 500 hours of workshops, customer case histories, partner presentations, and hands-on training sessions, as well as the massive exhibit hall and unique demonstration areas. Although primarily a North American affair with the increased use of social media platforms more and more people outside of that geographic area are taking an interest in proceedings at this now annual event. We reported last years event also, Power, Energy and er Automation? and there the question among the automation people there was Where is the automation? This question appears not to have been raised this time!

“We are honoured with the continued record breaking attendance of this event, and for the opportunity to host this valuable learning forum for our customers,” said Enrique Santacana, Region Manager for ABB North America and Event Chairman. “The energy, enthusiasm and optimism found throughout the entire conference this year is indicative of improving economic conditions in the industries we serve. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers and partners on how they will benefit going forward from attending this event.”

ABB designed its largest customer event for automation, robotics, industrial power and utility power users in engineering, operations, mill, plant, general management, and executive management in a wide variety of industries. Organised workshops, as well as information networking with their experts, industry experts and end user peers helped attendees share best practices, as well as learn how to reduce costs while improving their productivity and efficiency, be more competitive in today’s challenging economic environment, and build the foundation for future growth and prosperity.

The continued convergence of key market issues, such as the need to improve energy efficiency, optimize all aspects of manufacturing productivity and use of raw materials, and critical issues such as cybersecurity and process safety, have exponentially increased interest for automation and power customers.. ABB’s unique scope of supply and resident expertise addresses the entire spectrum of the energy efficiency and industrial productivity issues, from power generation and distribution to use in production and automation, as well as process reliability, efficiency and safety, and provides customers with the competitive edge they need to succeed today and in the future.

The dates and venue for ABB Automation & Power World 2012 was announced at the conclusion. The event will return to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, on April 23-26, 2012.

Lies, damn lies or statistics


“Sir,–It has been wittily remarked that there are three kinds of falsehood: the first is a ‘fib,’ the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics…..” These are lines from an anonymous correspondent writing to the editor of London’s National Observer in 1891. (Mark Twain in 1906, later popularised the expression attributing it to Disraeli in its more common expression “Lies, Damn lies and Statistics!).

Producing stats!

In April of 2010 we penned some lines on the first year that we operated this blog headed “Are you paying attention?” This looked back at some of the stats and gave our thoughts on the operation of the blog over that period.

As the year turns perhaps it is a good time to have another look at what has happened statistically not only on this blog but also on the other blogs and websites we operate under the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost banner. During this period we also became much more active on some other “social media” platforms, notable twitter, facebook and LinkedIn. Some of these have personal sharings as well as business postings. The facebook page is however Read-out Instrumentation Signpost Fanpage on facebook is a handy way of keeping up with our blogs as it is automated automatically as a new blog is published.  As these came online they effected the stats sometimes greatly sometimes less so. We will endevour to point out what we think effected the stats. The quote above should always be born in mind however when dealing with statistics. Remember the figures are probably factual but the interpretation may be highly subjective!

First we will look at the stats for this (WordPress Instsignpost’s Blog) blog  which we started in April 2009. In all there were 186 posts in 23 catagories and 309 tags which generated 114 comments since we started.

Here is a pictorial representation of the site viewing stats.

Views of Instsignpost’s Blog (WordPress) April 2009 – December 2010 – Total 11,668

So what’s behind the figures?

The first few months were obviously the start of things up to August 2009 when there was a doubling of views due we think to the use of twitter and facebook to publicise entries. Then it trundles along steadily at between the high 300s and the low 500s Then suddenly it leaps to 700 in July and from then on increases to an average of over 1000 a month! What happened?

We did something new, for us, and we talked about it on our blog: Sponsorship! A new departure for Read-out Signpost. This was agreed in June and almost immediately we noticed an upswing in viewings of our blog, from 440 in June to 760 in July and August, 999 in September and thereafter over 1000. Whether that was the catalyst or not we cannot prove but it is an interesting coincidence is it not?

Now let’s go to the most popular pages. Remember the older pages will have been on-line longer and this will effect the comparative relationship between pages. Nevertheless they are interesting to look at. Obviously the Home page will head this list but what visitors see on this page will vary from time to time.

Popular Pages – period 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010

Page % Popularity
Home page 60%
Stuxnet – not from a bored schoolboy prankster! 6%
Radar level measurement best practice 4%
The next HMI Revolution 4%
Wireless committees get their wires crossed 3%
Wireless strain gauge sensors 3%
Taking Invensys seriously! 3%
Understanding the psychology of climate change scepticism 3%
Top Ten Tips for the Industrial Trainer 3%
More on wireless 3%
Level detection of foaming media 2%
Innovation is everwhere! OpsManage EURA meeting in Paris 2%
Wireless convergence? 2%
Conquering complexity 2%

(In passing it might be of interest to see which pages topped the list since the blog started. After the home page these were Taking Invensys seriously! – Jul ’09,  followed closely by Conquering complexity! – Nov ’09) and then, Stuxnet – not from a bored schoolboy prankster! – Sept ’10)

And where did our viewers in the last twelve months come from (other than search engines)? Here are perhaps some surprises. 30% 16% 11%
twitter 11% 10% 9% 5% 4% 3%

There is little surprise in the number to come from our own website, but some of the others might surprise.

Finally what searches were carried out on the site? Here again there are some surprises (or maybe not). Obviously the Stuxnet malware was playing a lot on peoples minds and wireless was of interest too.

Search terms (1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010)

stuxnet timeline 24%
usb stick 20%
invensys blog 15%
white usb stick 7%
abb fieldkey 7%
signatures 6%
peter zornio 6%
stuxnet 4%
isa 100.11a 4%
wireless instrumentation 4%
jim pinto Invensys 4%

Our second bog on the blogger site,, is used primarily to publish press releases we receive, mostly product information, appointments, company news etc. Though set up shortly after the WordPress Blog coverd above, we did not start collecting stats until mid August 2010. There are usually a number of these blog pages published each day and as maybe imagined there is a formidable amount of information now mounting up here. Prior to the setting up of this blog site we would publish a very brief account of a press release and link directly to the website of the vendor. We have changed this in that we now link from our news page directly to the press release which has a link to the vendor’s own site.

Viewers of our Blogspot 15th Aug to 31 Dec 2010: Total - 3,607

We would not expect so many people to visit individual pages here unless they had a specific interest in the topic of the release.

During those four months we had 3600 visits looking at almost 6000 pages and spending an average of 3.2 minutes on the site. According to these figures about 30% came from the US and 15% from Ireland followed by Great Britain, India, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong.

We have recently instituted one other blog which includes press release from events where a multiplicity of releases occurs say at events. Links to these releases are included in our general report on these events. This blog is entitled Conference Releases. The conferences and events covered to date are listed in the right hand column of this blog. Visits to this site (instituted about two months ago) seem to be settling at one or two hundred a month.

The main Read-out site seems to be holding its own these days. Set up in 1994 we didn’t start taking stats on the site until the year 2000. Then we had a visitor total of around 500 a week and that steadily incresaed over the decade sometimes exceeding 6000 a week but setting at around 4000. Like all stats we have a healthy scepticism about these figures however they are useful to estimate activity on the site. These stats are provided by our site host – Verio – using a program called Urchin.

Sessions v Page View

The bars (Sessions) show the trend of activity on the website in terms of Visitor Sessions over time. A ‘Session’ is defined as a series of clicks on your site by an individual visitor during a specific period of time. A Session is initiated when the visitor arrives at your site, and it ends when the browser is closed or there is a period of inactivity. Sessions quantities will vary to some degree based on what type of visitor tracking method is employed.

The yellow area behind the bars shows the trend of Pageviews over the same time. A ‘Pageview’ is defined as a request from a visitor’s browser for a displayable web page, generally an HTML file. Urchin’s configuration controls which file extensions are treated as Pageviews. In general, images and other embedded content, such as style sheets and javascript, are not considered to be Pageviews. The default time-frame is one month.

As regards the most popular pages always surprising to us is the fact that after the home page, the most popular page is the Acronyms Page followed by News and Events. We have been listing stats for this site over the years on our Stats Pages! Because our facebook page is automatically updated from our blogs the news appears first there and thus appears up to 24 hours before our main page are updated.

The web and social media are exciting and sometimes unexpected methods of reaching out and the above figures are of interest of course but as we said in the intro they can be used to show what ever you want them to say. Our own conclusions are that they continue to show the increasing interest in our sites from the Automation Community throughout the world.

And remember when you examine the figures of any site that aphorism: “Lies, damn lies and statistics!”

Significant changes for Automation press in Britain


The November issue of Industrial Automation is jam-packed with automation news and views. This article on the automation publishing scene in Britain is fascinating and we reproduce by kind permission of editor Nick Denbow.

It seems that 2010 is the year for editorial changes in the UK based automation press, not least of which was of course the retirement of Andrew Bond from the full time editor on the INSIDER. (see Automation publication changes ownership in September 2010)

The most significant news this month is that Michael Babb, Editor of Control Engineering Europe (CEE), intends to retire after the November2010 issue.

Michael Babb

Michael was the original Control Engineering USA “Man on the spot”, reporting from Europe for the US journal, and also providing a European edition of the journal. CEE ceased its bimonthly publication in December 2002, but then Michael continued as editor when the IML publishing group licensed the title from Reed Business Information and started publication again in April 2003. The INSIDER of August 2004 then reported on the incorporation of the IML magazine Plant and Control Engineering into a UK edition of CEE, to add specific UK interest.

Throughout all these changes Michael has been the lynch-pin and main driver for CEE, because of the depth of his industry knowledge and expertise.

Future of CE Europe
The current publisher of CEE, Dan Jago of IML, is naturally sad to see Michael retire, as he acknowledges the part he has played over a long period, from his base in South Wales. It is also fitting that in his final issue he will be reporting on the SPS/ IPC/Drives exhibition in Nuremberg, the European show that he rates highest of all for the automation industry. The CEE title has been re-licensed from the new owners of the Control Engineering magazine in the USA, CFE Media of Chicago, (see also A Good news story May 2010)who will also continue the relationship developed with the CE publications licensed in Poland and Russia to Michael Majchrzak as editor- in-chief. Jago insists CEE will continue in a printed paper format, quoted as approximately bi-monthly – at least having six issues a year.

Moves from Datateam
The new approach for CE Europe at IML has been to recruit Suzanne Gill as editor, who is the ex-editor of Automation, a rival title from the Datateam publisher (in the UK context). Jago advises that IML will then build on having totally office-based staff in Tonbridge, Kent, with a new weekly email newsletter across the EU and the Middle East, a re-vamped website, and other as yet unspecified services. Rival publisher Datateam, having lost Suzanne Gill after maternity leave, also faced the hopefully temporary loss of Michelle Lea in August, on maternity leave – she has now had twins: Lea is another experienced editor, having been in charge of the UK journal Process & Control.

Further changes by IML
However, last month IML also decided that they no longer needed an editor for the HazardEx journal, a slot filled for the past seven years by long experienced control and automation editor, Paul Gay.

Paul Gay

Having started the UK magazine Control Systems in the 1980s, Paul also spent time on Automation, then becoming editor of the UK journal Control and Instrumentation (C+I) for publishers Centaur. In 2002 C+I transformed into Integrated Manufacturing Solutions, which never really got very far. C+I continuation was promised at least in spirit, on the web, as a named section of the (also ill-fated) Centaur e4engineering portal website. This has now transformed into the website for The Engineer magazine, from Centaur, who also publish the UK journal Process Engineering, and acquired the Pro-Talk websites some 5 years ago. Interestingly the Processingtalk website, which your INSIDER editor left in April, now has its newsletter material absorbed into a section of the website for The Engineer, under the header of Process Engineering: needless to say no C+I section is visible. The HazardEx journal had established a European and Middle Eastern readership, based on the well-established HazardEx conferences, but is now being re-aligned and restyled: meanwhile Paul Gay continues with another editing role for a different publisher on the UK journal Fastening and Assembly Solutions.

This item appears in the November issue of Industrial Automation Insider.

We have also learned of some changes at What’s New In Industry (WNII) with the departure of David Keighley.

It was a good two days!


An eagle's eye view of #AutoFair!

I’m beginning to loose count, yes, it was the fourth automation conference of this Autumn season that we prefaced with our blog, Two hectic weeks, possibly a misnomer since in reality it was in fact nearly six weeks when we take Invensys OpsManage as well as Emerson’s User Group Exchange and the first ISA Automation Week (which we actually attended physically) and now Rockwell’s Automation Fair last week. This was held in Orlando in Florida (US) this year (as was the Invensys event!).

The 2010 Post-Automation Fair website showcases resources from this annual event, including presentations, product demos, keynotes and much more. Walk the Showroom Floor to experience the Rockwell Automation booths from the 2010.
3rd – 4th Dec 2010.
15 Technical Streams

Sneak Preview – are you ready?

Pictures (ROK)
ROKAutomation’s Channel (Videos)

The JournalRA’s Channel (more videos)
Some of the presentations (Slideshare)

Press Releases:
Rockwell Automation Opens Doors to 19th Annual Automation Fair Event (3/11/2011)
Latest Generation PlantPAx Process Automation System (1/11/2011)

ControGlobal #AutoFair eNews

Editorial/Blogs etc

PepsiCo’s machine Safety Approach  (Joe Feeley, 12/7/2011)

Process, Safety, “Greenprint,” and Economic Recovery Highlight Automation Fair 2010 (Craig Resnick and John Blanchard – ARC advisory 14/1/2011()

Smart, Safe & Sustainable Manufacturing (Bill Lydon December 2010)

Social media marketing truly is elsewhere (Automation News 22/11/2010)

Rockwell’s Automation Fair draws a crowd (Automation World 9/11/2010)

Video Essay wrap-up (Gary Mintchell 9/11/2010)

Invensys IOM strategy explained (Jim Pinto 9/11/2010)

Thousands Descend On Orlando and Rockwell’s Automation Fair (Gary Mintchell 8/11/2010)

Where are our editors? Where is Walt? (Walt Boyes 4/11/2010)

Interview with Rick Sabo of item North America (YouTube Theresa Houck 3/11/2010)

Highlights top 10 enhancements showcased in the IA booth (Podcast)

Rockwell Process Continues To Build Momentum (Gary Mintchell 1/11/2010)

CISCO at #AutoFair (youTube 29/10/2010)

Follow #autofair on twitter; als0
#psug and Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and YouTube

What we said about last year’s event held in Anaheim: Automation Fair produces many reports!

This article from Telesian talks about Rockwell’s plans for integrating Social Media.

So what was it like to attend vicariously via twitter and the various social networking sites? The title above “It was a good two days!” is a tweet made at the end of the week.

Well as with the other shows our only measure is in fact these tweets telling us how things are progressing and where to find stuff. We tried to keep up with these on our Read-out Instrumentation Signpost Home page. The final tweet we have used as a title to this piece! “It was a good two days!”

Many of us were curious as to just how many tweeters there would be, and we had something to measure against in the previous three events. Gary Mintchel voiced this “We’ll see how many tweeters they have.!” Indeed Rockwell themselves are prolific tweeters and my Twtterrific had quite a number of tweets from the ubiquitous but sadly anonomous @Automation Fair in the weeks leading up to the event giving links and little morsels of what was in store for attendees and how to book a place. I wasn’t conscious of such a build with the other events. (See article linked at bottom of box on right on Rockwell and Social Media!). It is always exciting to szee tweets from people as the pack, board planes or “Just crossed into FL on my way.” Hopefully tweeted from a car and not from a plane!

The event proper started on the 4th November but there were the build-up allied-event Process Solutions User Group (#PSUG) with educational sessions, keynotes (including ARC’s Larry O’Brien who addressed “Top Challenges of End Users in Process Automation”), applications. This attracted around 65o delegates and the meaty tweets started immediately.

“John Nesi VP Market Development talks about the global economy and where Rockwell sees themselves going.”…”Nesi: ‘Sustainabilty is about putting productivity to work in environmentally friendly ways’…”Need to track and report carbon emissions is ‘looming necessity’ for manufacturers”….”Convergence of automation and information systems….” and “‘Rockwell realigning global solutions biz around vertical industries!’ says Som Chakraborti”…”Larger CapEx projects and smaller skids are key avenues for PlantPAx application growth.”… and so on.

On that first day there were no fewer than 57 tweets from the meeting. However as more and more people began to descend on Orlando the number of tweets increased to 195 on the 2nd November and 142 on the third (when Automation Fair “proper” started) and to 111 on the final day. Obviously total exhaustion had set in by the 5th November when for brave souls tweeted – or perhaps croaked might be a better verb to use!

The event was well covered with a daily newsletter brought out by Walt Boyes, Nancy Bartels and Keith Larson of Control Global. Rockwell’s own Theresa Houck had a number of video interviews on the exhibition floor as well.

We purposefully avoid a detailed report in any of these event commentaries and have endevoured to give an impression as somebody not present and trying to glean as much while sitting in front of a laptop. The links are from  people who were there in person and therefore have a better idea of the atmosphere etc. The links are given in the box on the right hand side.

So now’s the time to rest? Yes? No I’m afraid not. Automation ISA2010 is on in Brazil from 7th November, OpsManage EURO in Paris the folowing week, SPS/IPC/Drives the week after in Nuremberg, and as if that weren’t enough Christmas is coming on 25th December….

The Next #Autofair is in Chicago November 16-17, 2011