Brexit woes continue.

02/08/2016
This is a short piece from Nick Denbow, in the July Issue of Industrial Automation Insider*  on the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. See our earlier piece “Nobody knows!” (30/6/2016)

The first thing that Great Britain’s new government, under Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, did was to quash talk of a new referendum that might end Brexit before it actually gets started. The government says it plans to go ahead with the exit of Great Britain from the European Union, despite angry words from Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which client states voted emphatically to stay in the EU.

zollschildThis impacts manufacturing and automation system companies in quite a few different ways. The membership of Great Britain and Ireland in the EU made it possible to conduct business across country barriers with so much ease that the borders were essentially invisible. Personnel could be sent wherever needed, not where they were citizens. Inventory could be stored anywhere in the EU for shipment anywhere in the EU and things like FAT tests and FEED projects could be done anywhere without regard for borders.

“The connection of just about anything via the Internet is expected to grow rapidly through 2016 and well into the future, significantly boosting opportunities for tech specialists, particularly cybersecurity professionals. Complicating this is the recent investment by the EU of US $500 million to fund research into cybersecurity, and its call for industry to invest at least three times that amount to protect the EU economy from cyberattacks. Under the plan, the European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive body, has launched a public-private partnership under the European Cyber Security Organization, which calls for EU member states and cybersecurity bodies, including market players, research centers, and academia, to strengthen their cooperation and pool their knowledge to increase Europe’s cyber resilience. It’s not clear at this point where, or if, the UK would fit into this program.” –Ron Schnieiderman on IEEE Careers site.

This will no longer be true, as Brexit takes hold, and companies are now having to do significant amounts of strategic planning based on this very large Great-Britain-sized hole in the EU. Further, other countries are making noises like they might want to break up the EU entirely, which is a different bucket of fish entirely. European automation companies have prospered because of the borderless and customs-less conditions under which they have worked in the EU.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, especially with Scotland making independence noises again, less than two years after a failed independence plebiscite.

• The Insider’s Health Watch column also reports on some Brexit related influences!
• Coincidentally the ever-interesting BMON daily had a popular piece on the possible effects of the Brexit decision on the internet – specifically the use of cookies –  The Future for EU and UK Laws on Cookies after ‘Brexit’ (3/7/2016)

*The Automation INSIDER is an independent monthly e-mail newsletter and editorial report on the continuing evolution, development and convergence of industrial automation, instrumentation and process control technologies worldwide for automation and process control system users, designers, installers and suppliers. It is compiled by Walt Boyes.


Accelerating development of smart, power-efficient IoT applications!

28/07/2014
Delivering intelligent connectivity starting at the network edge

B&B Electronics has introduced its Wzzard™ Intelligent Sensing Platform.    Wzzard is an easy to use, complete wireless sensor connectivity platform for the rapid deployment of scalable, intelligent, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) networking in remote and demanding environments.   Wzzard was designed to help integrators, VARs and service providers efficiently develop and deploy secure, smart, self-powered, and scalable IoT applications.

BBWzzardUnlike a traditional SCADA application where sensors and edge devices are simply passive conduits for raw data, edge decision making delivers a more effective network.  Using iterative control limits and gateway data aggregation to support applications closer to the network edge, the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform brings this intelligence to the network starting at the sensor, creating a more responsive, reliable and efficient network.

There are several key components and technologies that comprise B&B Electronics’ Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform, as demonstrated here: B&B Smart Sensing Wzzard Platform

First, Wzzard Intelligent Edge Nodes will connect, via conduit fitting cable gland or M12 connector, to any industry-standard sensor. General-purpose analog inputs, digital input/output and thermocouple interfaces are included. B&B has already integrated internal temperature and accelerometer sensor options, and can integrate other application specific sensors upon request.

The Intelligent Edge Nodes are easily configurable, using Android or IoS smartphones or tablets and the Wzzard app over Bluetooth LE 4.0. They can be configured to communicate only data outside specified thresholds, reducing the cost on cellular networks, as well as to associate other useful information (geo-location, device name, and up-time) with the collected sensor data for upstream analytics applications.   Control time synchronization is used to maximize battery life, exceeding 5 years for many applications.   Nodes are IP67 rated for outdoor use and include both magnetized and screw mount options.

Next is the communications component. B&B chose SmartMesh IP® wireless sensing technology from Linear Technologies Dust Networks.  SmartMesh IP is based upon the wireless IEEE 802.15.4e standard and creates full-mesh networks, sometimes referred to as “mesh-to-the-edge” networks.  SmartMesh IP networks use a triple-play of wireless mesh technologies—time diversity, frequency diversity, and physical diversity—to assure reliability, resiliency, scalability, power source flexibility, and ease-of-use.  At the core the technology is an intelligent mesh network with advanced algorithms and power saving technologies that enable powerful features not available from other WSN providers including:

• Ultra low power consumption

• Deterministic power management and optimization

• Auto-forming mesh technology for a self-healing and self-sustaining network

• Dynamic bandwidth support, load balancing and optimization

• Network management and configuration

• Zero collision low power packet exchange

• Scalability to large, dense, deep networks

wzzard_groupWzzard’s Intelligent Edge Nodes can join the mesh network at any time without gateway interaction.  Nodes attach automatically, and the SmartMesh IP technology dynamically self-configures to re-form the mesh network. To ensure data always reaches the gateway, nodes will determine their optimal RF paths to other nodes and back to the gateway. The SmartMesh IP protocol implemented within the edge nodes includes advanced network management functions and security features such as encryption and authentication. For more information: B&B Smart-Sensing What is Smartmesh

Wzzard also uses the lightweight, publish/subscribe messaging transport MQTT protocol for sensor communications.   MQTT is an extremely simple messaging protocol created for M2M and IoT applications over wireless networks. Its efficient distribution of information to single or multiple receivers, low power usage and minimized data packets make it ideal for mobile or remote locations. Unlike older SCADA protocols such as Modbus, MQTT places few restrictions on the volume or type of data that can be communicated. This facilitates a meta-data approach where multiple IoT applications can act upon the information simultaneously without having to know its origin.

Finally, B&B’s programmable, industrial-grade Spectre router serves as Wzzard’s Intelligent Gateway. Spectre can connect equipment and other devices to the Internet or Intranet over either wired Ethernet or wireless cellular connections. Spectre is built for plug-and-play simplicity with extensive remote management, deployment and customization options.  It is a robust, flexible gateway designed for easy deployment in demanding environments and the cellular version creates secure connections in locations where cable connections are impractical.

Processed information from the sensor nodes is published through the Spectre Gateway up to the customer’s IoT application using MQTT transport protocol.

SeeControl is one of the first IoT platform providers to leverage the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform and MQTT protocols to develop applications. (More information at: B&B/SeeControl Partnership)

“Today, most business analytics can only describe what has happened and why,” said Parthesh Shastri, SeeControl’s vice president of customer success and strategy.  “The industry can move past descriptive to predictive and even prescriptive analytics using IoT technologies such as B&B’s Wzzard that applies edge decision making and processes information collected from sensors before transmitting relevant, as opposed to raw data, up to SeeControl’s SaaS remote management platform. Cloud-based big data analytics is then better able to derive meaning from the data, and prescribe specific courses of action, to drive more intelligent applications.”

Jerry O’Gorman, CEO of B&B Electronics explained, “The Wzzard platform’s technologies, protocols and hardware work together to reduce the complexity, expertise and time it takes for integrators to develop scalable IoT solutions.   We developed Wzzard to facilitate the coming world of connected intelligence, where smart machines and systems will collaborate, inform and make decisions on the intelligence gained from each other with little or no human supervision. Humans will program these smart networks, but then they have the ability to run efficiently and autonomously, sometimes for years, until there’s data reported that requires human intervention.”

Possible Applications:

  • Flood and water level monitoring
  • Smart car parks; vehicle counting, air quality
  • Smart irrigation systems monitoring soil moisture, environmental conditions, leaks
  • Mechanical condition monitoring/preventative maintenance
  • Energy measurements and audits on a per system or machine basis
  • Data center environmental monitoring
  • Tank and lift stations
  • Condition monitoring and optimization in industrial environments
  • Traffic monitoring of over-height vehicles for tunnels and bridges

InTech steams into your iPad!

13/03/2014

We don’t usually plug automation publications per sé although we have from time to time publicised articles which we feel might be of interest to our visitors. One of the most respected publications in the Automation world is InTech, the periodical of the International Society of Automation. They have just launched a tablet version of the magazine – initially for the iPad but shortly for other platforms.

InTech Plus is a new mobile app from the ISA, for the Apple iPad that enables automation professionals to rapidly access, scan and digest a diverse range of technical and educational content—and utilize valuable tools and calculators—through a highly interactive and inviting format.  InTech Plus may be downloaded at no cost through the Apple App Store.

InTech Plus_Part One

“The InTech Plus mobile app has great new content delivered in a new and engaging way,” said Peggie W. Koon, Ph.D., ISA President. “Downloadable free of charge, InTech Plus connects automation and control professionals to all things automation. It’s interactive, intuitive, fresh and fun. From the latest technology news and ‘how-to’ videos featuring ISA subject matter experts to Q&As, quizzes and calculators, our new mobile app delivers added value to automation professionals on the go.”

Because InTech Plus provides on-the-go access—whenever and wherever—to an extensive array of automation content and functionality, Dr. Koon says it supports the ISA mission of better connecting automation and control professionals with the information they need and want.

“In addition,” she says, “InTech Plus represents our commitment to innovation, and to pursuing the ongoing development of new tools, products and programs with the “coolest delivery” available to our members and the automation community at large.”

A fresh and engaging format designed for ease of use
As users move through InTech Plus, they will immediately notice they’re engaging in a totally new way to view and digest information. Highly colorful and visual in approach, the pages feature intuitive navigation that will guide you to captivating success stories, to best-practice overviews, and to “quick-read” call-out boxes and sliders—all of which encourage you to learn more and dig deeper.

“ISA is extremely excited to introduce InTech Plus to the automation community,” says Susan Colwell, Manager of ISA Publications Development. “There is so much to discover and explore. Useful information and tools are on display right at your fingertips. Tap on a button to read about a hot topic or view helpful conversion tables, or get a refresher on a specific area of automation fundamentals, such as how to select field instruments. Polish up on wireless devices, HMI, pressure transmitters, level, temperature, batch and so on. Take a quick quiz on CCST® or CAP® certification. A slide of a finger will lead you to the next feature, video, fun fact or news item. Download a calculation or scientific app on the go, when you need it most. You can even learn about the history of automation.”

InTech Plus content, which will be updated on a regular basis, is derived through a variety of authoritative sources, most significantly through the insights and perspectives of ISA’s world-renowned subject matter experts. In addition, the entire spectrum of ISA’s products and services—including its automation standards; education, training and certification programs; technical symposia; publishing resources and leadership development capabilities—is represented.

While InTech Plus is currently only formatted for the iPad, Colwell says additional formats are under development.


The US cybersecurity framework for implementation!

14/02/2014
A unique, public-private partnership effort now turns to the plan’s implementation

The official rollout of the US Cybersecurity Framework, recognized this past Wednesday in an announcement delivered by President Barack Obama, represents the completion of a successful partnership effort among The White House, the Automation Federation and its founding organization, the International Society of Automation (ISA). Now, the second phase of the partnership—working together to implement the framework—begins.

US President Obama

US President Obama

The US Cybersecurity Framework, the result of a year-long initiative to develop a voluntary how-to guide for American industry and operators of critical infrastructure to strengthen their cyber defenses. is a key deliverable from the Executive Order on “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” that President Obama announced in his 2013 State of the Union address.

During the past year, representatives of the Automation Federation and the International Society of Automation (ISA) have been assisting the US government—at the White House’s request—to help develop and refine a draft of the US Cybersecurity Framework. Both organisations were sought out as essential government advisors given their expertise in developing and advocating for industrial automation and control system (IACS) security standards. The ANSI/ISA99, Industrial Automation and Control Systems Security standards (known internationally as ISA99/IEC 62443), are recognized globally for their comprehensive, all-inclusive approach to IACS security.

ISA’s IACS security standards are among the framework’s recommendations because they’re designed to prevent and mitigate potentially devastating cyber damage to industrial plant systems and networks—commonly used in transportation grids, power plants, water treatment facilities, and other vital industrial settings. Without these defenses in place, industrial cyberattack can result in plant shutdown, operational and equipment impairment, severe economic and environmental damage, and public endangerment.

A significant step forward in protection
President Obama, in his statement released on last Wednesday in Washington, DC, said that “cyber threats pose one the gravest national security dangers that the United States faces. I am pleased to receive the Cybersecurity Framework, which reflects the good work of hundreds of companies, multiple federal agencies and contributors from around the world.”

The 41-page framework takes a risk-management approach that allows organizations to adapt to “a changing cybersecurity landscape and responds to evolving and sophisticated threats in a timely manner,” according to the document.

Though the adoption of the framework is voluntary, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community (C3) Voluntary Program to increase awareness and use of the Cybersecurity Framework. The C3 Voluntary Program will connect companies, as well as federal, state and local partners, to DHS and other federal government programs and resources that will assist their efforts in managing their cyber risks. Participants will be able to share lessons learned, receive guidance and learn about free tools and resources.

Automation Federation Chairman Terry Ives

Terry Ives, Automation Federation Chair

Attending the Wednesday launch event in the nation’s capital was a contingent of Automation Federation officials, including Michael Marlowe, Automation Federation Managing Director and Director of Government Relations; Terry Ives, 2014 Chair of the Automation Federation; and Leo Staples, a past Chair of the Automation Federation who serves as leader of the Automation Federation’s Cybersecurity Framework team.

“Given that the risk of cyberattacks targeted to industrial automation and control systems across all industry sectors continues to grow, it’s important that the Automation Federation and ISA have been actively involved in the development of this national cybersecurity initiative,” said Ives. “The Cybersecurity Framework provides an effective, comprehensive approach for industry sectors to determine their vulnerability to these kinds of attacks and the means to mitigate them.”

Moving forward to implementation 
“Now that the Cybersecurity Framework has been officially launched by the Obama administration, we have been asked by The White House and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to assist in the framework’s implementation,” reports Marlowe. “We are actively underway in planning a series of implementation seminars throughout the US and as far away as London.”

In fact, the first implementation seminar is to be conducted  on Friday, 21 February 2014 in Birmingham (AL USA). The seminar will be sponsored by the Automation Federation and the Alabama Technology Network, a Working Group of the Automation Federation.

At the seminar, representatives from the White House, NIST and leading cybersecurity subject matter experts will outline the provisions and details of the Cybersecurity Framework, and will illustrate why IACS security standards are such fundamental components of the plan and its implementation.


Lightening disconnection prompts slow musing!

03/02/2014

Following the devastating storms (for Ireland) and the destruction caused to infrastructure and property near the coastline we have had time to consider talking about something we suddenly found ourselves without!

Don’t get the wrong impression. The great winds that swept over the country over the Christmas and New Year period although they caused damage mercifully the did not, in so far as we know cause any loss of life. The pictures of surging surf and uprooted or swept away roads and pathways, particularly in our own area of South Conamara and further west were a grimn reminder of the untamability of Mother Nature. Michael Viney’s excellent weekly column in the Irish Times recently gives a flavour as he writes about “The nuts and volts of thunder storms!”

tintreachHere in the Read-out office we were not left unscathed and a very loud thunder clap – obviously preceeded by a lightening strike – put paid to the interior of our working computer. It also appears to have put paid to our connections with the outside world and we were without our land-line and our usual internet connection for ten days. Mercifully no information had been lost but there is little that we could do with that information in the modern world without a reliable and speedy internet connection.

First steps
We have been connected in one way or another to the internet for twenty years. It was in 1994 that we became the 700 customer on Ireland-on-line (the iol.ie in our e-mail address). It was a dial-up service – remember dial-up? At the time of joining up there were three subscribers to our print publication, Read-out, who had e-mail addresses. Hard to imagine!

The following year we started the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost which basically was a collection of links to the then few automation sites available. Gradually as more resources became available we assembled a website of links and briefly an Instrumentation Directory, which over the years has grown less important as the search-engines have become more sophisticated. All the developments we talk about here would have been impossible had not the net been freely available at little or no cost. The big player and the one man band have equal access to the basic platform.

Is the party over?
One of the great things about the internet – up to now – is its neutrality and its accessibility. It has been a great leveller. Anybody can join. Karlin Lillington, a correspondent with the Irish times states, “Net neutrality has long been a major concern for technology companies and service providers large and small. The loss of such a policy will be viewed with alarm in a world where internet access grows to be seen more and more like a utility in the public eye, and underlies the business plans of small entrepreneurial companies up to the largest entertainment moguls.” Karlin Lillington notes the decision by a US Federal court which could overturn this neutrality and signal the exclusionb of the “small guy!” It appears that even in the European Union the legislation proposed has loopholes the exploitation of which could have very similar implications. (Rulings in the us could make the web a dangerously different place.)

Blogs
Where the web-site presence has flourished is in the provision of product, people, application and company news, editorial and comment. At first we linked to stories we found in various places on the web. As things progressed we realised that we received many press releases from vendors and technical innovators which we were unable to include in the limits of a 12 to 16 page periodical and thus we progressed to publishing them on our blogs. Mostly these are included on the blogger platform where they are lightly edited. More technology based and opinion pieces are put on the WordPress platform (You’re reading this post on it!) To date we have put up well over 5000 stories and articles.

As the internet grew and developed so to did the business of business, change, and change radically. One of the little books that we found useful was by Seth Godin, called “Meatball Sundae”, mostly because this new thing is turning everything upside down and putting seemingly incompatible principles and ideas together and coming out with something that turns out to be brilliant. We wrote about it in one of our first blogs!

Social media
However for engineers a lot of this is in a way counterintuitive and contrary. Engineers like to know how things work and to be able to predict outcomes. The left brain skills (engineers & scientists) versus the right brain skills (artistic and creative) is in full play here. For those a useful volume is Di Pietro’sSocial Media for Engineers and Scientists, which we recommend highly.

smdipietroWe first got on-line in the early nineties to access information on the International Society of Automation website, which had and has lots and lots of useful information on the discipline available free of charge to members. This was available not through a browser as now know it but through a platform called Telnet. There were no pictures just simple text. The connection was a dial-up one, it was incredibly slow but very exciting. Here we were in Ireland looking at material live in North Carolina USA.

Our methods of communication were through “list-serves” where one joined a group and emails were sent to a group address and distributed to those on the list. There were also on-line communities where messages were left and looked at and responded to by members at there leisure.

However as the world wide web enveloped the internet the telnet platform faded and a new platform called a browser made its appearence. Names like Netscape and Mozilla became common parlance and it wasn’t long before the giant Microsoft Corporation introduced the daddy of them all Explorer. But things wax an wane and now while we still have Explorer but also Firefox, Chrome and Apples Safari and of course dial-up is never mentioned in polite society. It is broadband, speed and “always-on” internet that is the norm now.

socialmediatree1We posted an item in early 2013 with videos from the aforementioned Jon DiPietro, and Emerson’s internet guru Jim Cahill which is relevent to this topic: Two social media pioneers in Automation ask “Why?” and “How!”

Facebook
It is hard to imagine life without the internet now. The advent of social media has changed things yet again. First facebook came along and people started to share their lives with the world. It quickly developed into an incredible mismatch of things, what people had for breakfast, things that amused them, the pet gripes, politics, religion, pictures of their pets, holiday experiences. What it has turned out to be is a vehicle for communication between people who will in fact prabably never meet or with relations they would otherwise have lost conntact with.

But from a business point of view it could also be useful. We quickly found the our personal page was fairly useless, as there was so much noise from people not concerned with the latest automation widget and/or with personal stuff. Few automation engineers really want to know if your child became champion cheerleader in the school or what you had your favourite eating house! Happily Facebook had an answer to that in what they used to call “fan pages”, these pages are dedicated to particular topics, hobbies etc to which interested people may indicate an interest by “liking” them. Thus the Read-out Facebook page has some people who follow the writer’s personal page but many more who do not! Our automation blog stories are automatically posted to this facebook page.

Twitter
This can be an invaluable tool. We use it (@ReadoutSignpost) to publicise stories as they are published. We also post other material (mostly in Irish) that interests the writer. We decided early on that it would be impractical to open two twitter accounts one for business and one for everything else. The messages are basically enforcedly short (max 140 characters including URL) and so they can be easily dismissed if not of interest.

Semple_Corporation_jkt.pdfTwitter however is also useful because with the advent of intelligent phones tweets often relay breaking news far more quickly, though not always with accuracy, than more conventional methods of media communication. One example on our discipline is how this writer learned of the arrival of Stuxnet, the first malware discovered that target automation systems. Gary Mintchell, then of Automation World, tweeted brief details in July 2010. Had he not done so we would not have been alerted to this very important story and read and shared (with many others) the first reports and studies of the implications of this important event. We have assembled a large collection of links to pages, reports, papers and videos on our popular ICS & SCADA Security page.

One important thing to remember about twitter (and social media in general) is what Euan Semple says Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do! Indeed if you are ambivalent about the use of social media his book of the same title could be invaluable.

Many times the one man band is far more effective that the large corporation and I think the reason for this is because he/she IS people. The most successful participants, it seems to me, are those who regularly participate with interesting material and telling a story. Few large corporations trust their employees enough to allow this freedom which is the essence of social media.

Another important thing about twitter is that it is said to have a half-life of 4 hours, unlike facebook which goes on forever. No matter what platform one posts on, one must always beware what one posts as who knows it may come back to haunt you!

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is something we have come to late in the day. It was called the “Business version of facebook!” but in reality this writer could not get it. Fine if you were looking for a job etc. Because of its reputation we did “join” it early on and many people became “contacts.” But recently we started our own group, the Read-out Signpost News, and this is another vehicle for us to spread the Read-out news pages. We haven’t been there long enough to gauge reaction but we have garnered some further contacts in many different corners of ther globe.

There are some useful discussion groups on topics, like Cybersecurity, there which to a large extent mirror the old list-serves as they enable daily, or weekly reports of the items that have been shared be posted to your email address. In a way a periodic newsletter! Quite useful.

Google Plus
I am like many people on the internet. I don’y know what Google+ is about. Chris Rand in his Bmon newsletter summed it up nicely recently “My guess is that whatever social networks you use personally, and whatever you’ve introduced into your company’s marketing, Google+ is not going to be amongst them, except as a token gesture at best.” Read his short daily one day last November, “I admit it. I still don’t know what Google+ is all about.” and you’ll understand what I mean.

There are other platforms like YouTube which as yet we have not ventured into but a lot of companies, including automation enterprises,  are becoming involved with varying degrees on success. The important this is regular posting of interesting material.

So what do we think?
Without a doubt the internet has changed our lives. When the first commercial Read-out hit the Irish highways and byways we little thought that we would become so well known in the world-wide automation and control community. We have regular visits to our site from places as far afield as Norway, (indeed more people visit our site from Norway than almost any others country except the USA), India, China and the Ukraine, Germany, the USA, Britain and France as well as Ireland.

We learn of news, mergers, important technological events and achievements at a speed inconcieveable in 1989. We share that information with the whole world through the various platforms on the web. We engage with our automation friends and acquantances all over the globe in previously impossible ways.

And sometimes we get to meet them at exhibitions and conferences and have no need for the preliminaries of getting to know people because if we realise that “Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do!” then we do know them already!

What a wonder!


Insider to Sound Off – analysing automation in 2014 and beyond!

19/01/2014

New team for the INSIDER, to analyse the news in 2014

Operating in the Measurement, Control and Automation business sector, the Industrial Automation & Process Control INSIDER, founded and edited by Andrew Bond and more recently by Nick Denbow (from 2010), and the Sound Off! blog from Walt Boyes, have provided analysis and comment for many years – effectively as competitors. The difference between the two has always been one of style, perhaps based on geography, because the INSIDER could be described as having a solidly British, if not European, physical and cultural base. (Indeed on occasion Read-out has been known to contribute a bit of an Irish flavour from time to time!) Sound Off! has, without doubt, the a distinctly North American, if not USA,  approach and style.

Europe & America in Automation

Europe & America in Automation

The strengths of both these organs is that they are demonstrably vendor independent, unreliant on advertising, possibly unique in trade publications in the world of automation.

Modern communications and the Internet have changed everything today, in that most developments and press releases are available world-wide, once they are written. Even User Group conferences held around the World in specific locations, are reported with video interviews, live streams and tweets available to everyone, and we in Read-out have found tweets particularly useful in this regard using these to give a differently nuanced report on proceedings from venues that we have never visited in the flesh! These factors have increased the overlap between the publications.

An opportunity for change
We learned last November that Walt Boyes had left Control magazine and Putman Media, but he has continuing to write his Sound Off! blog on his own account. Walt, as those of us who know him would know, was keen to expand his activities we now learn that he is joining the Editorial team of the INSIDER. Over the past year, Nick Denbow has been seeking a future development route for the newsletter, that would take away some of the workload involved in typesetting and administration, and also create further expansion opportunities. He tells us that some of this requirement has arisen from developing eye problems caused by glaucoma and the consequent increase in typos that can remain undetected. Probably this is more likely a result of 14 years in front of a PC screen! So we come to a link-up with Spitzer & Boyes.  “The result is that Walt and I have agreed that he and David Spitzer will become the co-publishers of the INSIDER, with Walt sending out the newsletter as from the February issue – next month!”

Walt is to be be the Managing Editor, and the main editorial contact (based in Saint Louis, Missouri USA), and he is also to deal with the subscription administration. This agreement also enables Nick Denbow to continue writing editorial reports for the INSIDER, as the European Editor (based in Winchester, GB) – maintaining the European contacts and approach established over the years by the INSIDER. Walt has, in fact, started his involvement with the INSIDER already, and has provided some of the review articles featured later in the January issue.

Nick continues, “The monthly issue of the INSIDER subscription newsletter will continue as it has done for the last 17 years, and we will do our best to expand and improve the publication for the future. Walt and I believe that the format around the newsletter, with the associated websites and other services, needs to develop and change, to bring in new ideas and publishing techniques. But the INSIDER newsletter is set to continue, with both Walt Boyes and Nick Denbow as editors, writers, commentators and columnists throughout 2014.”

Hopefully the combination will bring both the European, American and indeed global view to the INSIDER news analysis!

This story on Sound Off
Spitzer and Boyes LLC Acquires Industrial Automation INSIDER

Now! Anybody interested in Read-out?


Walt!

26/11/2013

The automation world was a bit stunned to read the following tweet from major automation pundit and personality Walt Boyes: “I will be leaving Putman and Control magazine to return to Spitzers & Boyes. My last day will be December 13.”  He made the same announcement on his face book page! Later he amended it “Oops, now it seems I will be leaving Putman November 30, not December 13.”

Walt

Of course we don’t know the full story nor I suppose should we pry too much. Indeed one of the responses to the news on social media says “Realising there is untold backstory here, I hope this turns out as a super good thing for you!” Suffice it to say that nearly all print publications, especially, those in dedicated or dare I say, niche, markets are struggling to find a position in a world dominated by electronic communication. How they react is perhaps a measure of their understanding of their audience.

Walt_Boyes

Another scoop!

Control Magazine, like all automation periodicals has shrunk somewhat in size although, under Walt’s editorship through its internet presence, ControlGlobal it has managed to reach audiences far beyond the shores of North America. Another comment hearing the news, “It will be Control Global’s loss and Spitzer & Boyes gain! If I remember….they didn’t have an on-line magazine until you took over as editor. You and your connections brought them world-wide exposure.” Probably true but in fact an on-line presence would have happened whether Walt was there or not. It is valid however, to surmise that it would not be as effective as it is without his lively input!

Walt, needs little introduction in the area of automation. This writer has known him since the eighties at least and indeed maybe further back through his involvement as a leader in the International Society of Automation. His authoritative presence in the ISA Publications Department, including as Publications VP, was an inspiration to many. When he was appointed as Editor in Chief of Control Magazine his ethical side came to the fore and he disengaged immediately from involvement in any ISA activities which could have been seen as compromising to the society’s interest. This was not universally recognised and led to some estrangement from some members especially in the early days. However thankfully the Society has recognised his expertise and dedication when he was created a Fellow some years ago. He continues to support ISA in those areas where there is no clash of interests and indeed at the ISA Automation Week earlier this month was presented with another award by the Management Division recognising his “special contributions,” to that division.

He is a man who calls a spade a spade. Sometimes people might think him to be too forthcoming in his opinions but what no one can deny is his sense of devotion to what he sees and understands as the truth. One might say that in automation terms his motto might be “Fiat justitia ruat caelum!” His robust interventions in the wireless standard debates are a case in point.  His well named “Sound-Off Blog” is a never to be missed yet at times very personal  commentary on the automation sector. It is to be hoped that Putman sees fit to leave these postings on the control website rather than remove all trace of his prodigious input.

His venture with David Spitzer in Spitzer & Boyes, is another useful resource and David’s monthly e-zine is a welcome delivery in many automation mailboxes advice and explanations of the various technologies. This is a consultancy providing flow and level measurement engineering, market research, and related consulting services to instrumentation users, manufacturers, and representatives on a worldwide basis. We look forward to Walt’s & David’s strengthening of this input into our discipline. “You have an amazing ability to improve things wherever you may be. Best of luck with this, and all your endeavours.” says another on hearing the news!

We mentioned previously that we have known Walt for many years. A very human being who has had his share of sadness especially when his wife of many years died suddenly a few years ago. He has recently found happiness with a lady called Joy (in name and in nature!) and indeed we in Read-out cherish their visit to us in Ireland during his honeymoon in the Summer. All his many friends were delighted that in Joy he has again found a soul-mate.

Hopefully in this development automation professionals throughout the world will be able to continue to benefit from Walt’s unique expertise and opinions for many years into the future.

Reading this it looks like an obituary but of course it isn’t thank God. It is however an opportunity for this writer at least to express appreciation and perhaps gratitude for a contribution to the world of automation that is the life to date of Walt Boyes!

Good luck Walt, and every good wish for success in this new phase of your life.

news-flashWalt is Sounding Off again! (10 Dec 2013)