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Honeywell announces "OneWireless"Honeywell's 2007 Users' Group (HUG) Americas Symposium was held June 10-14th in Phoenix, Arizona. About 1,700 people attended, most of them end-users.
Phoenix is just a hop away from San Diego and I went for a couple of days, specifically to meet key people and old friends, and to hear more about Honeywell's new "OneWireless - universal industrial wireless mesh network solution".
OneWireless is a clever idea - a 3-in-1 box multi-radio, multi-port wireless access point that supports multiple industrial protocols and applications simultaneously. OneWireless support mesh networks with HART protocol, WiFi, FHSS radio, all in one box. Bandwidth control provides increased security and capacity, scalable to 30,000 devices.
What about Wireless Standards? End-users clearly do not want a repeat of the fieldbus fiasco (several competing protocols). At this stage, it quickly becomes semantics: "Wireless HART" is the standard (near completion) promoted by HCF - the HART Communication Foundation, with 150+ members. OneWireless transmits HART protocol data over wireless, similar to the way HART data moves over other industrial networks like Profibus. But Honeywell keeps insisting that it is "HART wireless" rather than using the term "Wireless HART". Hmmm... I think I feel another poem brewing.....
As if to prove that OneWireless was not just smoke-and-mirrors, Honeywell took a cue from Emerson and offered a "Starter kit". I challenged Honeywell's key people to lower the price to stimulate wider trials and usage. It's not just the price - it's more a symbol of chutzpah. It remains to be seen whether Jack Bolick & Co. will take me up on that challenge.
To the winner goes the spoils. In this case, market-share.
Industrial wireless standardsInflection-points bring opportunities for new winners. The two big inflection points in the industrial automation business were the introduction of DCS (by Honeywell in the '70s) and PLCs (invented by Dick Morley and others) also in the 70's. After that there was nothing significant. In my view, wireless will be another inflection point.
Here's the key: The justification for most projects is based on the return on financial investment, which could take years. With wireless, the infrastructure investments (digging cable trenches, pipes, wiring) are reduced immediately, and returns are dramatic. Projects that previously could not be considered become immediately worthwhile. It's win-win all round.
Many of the wireless applications now being discussed in the process industries can and have been achieved with commercial technology. This is similar to how Ethernet migrated from the business world into factory and process environments.
For industrial and process controls, what remains to be settled is a standard for low power, reliable, sensor/actuator wireless networks. Many technologies have been tried, but no standard exists that excels at the combination of very high reliability, ultra low power, and the security needed.
Both ISA's SP-100 Committee and the HART Communications Foundation (HCF) have been working on industrial wireless standards. SP-100 is chartered with a broader scope, extending from sensors and actuators to the boardroom. Wireless HART has already achieved draft standard status; SP-100 is at an earlier stage. Both groups have agreed to use the IEEE 802.15.4 radio standard for the physical layer, and self-organizing mesh network technology for reliability.
Clearly it would be best for the industry to have a single standard. The concepts and direction being pursued by SP-100 are very similar to those of Wireless HART, which should be incorporated as part of the standard. SP-100 should then focus it's efforts on the remaining portions of industrial standards - from the field and the plant to the office and boardroom.
HART originated from Rosemount, now part of Emerson which is Honeywell's primary competitor. But HCF is now "open", with 150+ members that would support standards with proliferation of products and applications. So, Honeywell, just support "Wireless HART" as the SP-100 standard and get on with the business of doing business.
Women in EngineeringEngineering is still primarily a "Boys Club". Only 20% of US engineering degrees are earned by women; only 9% of American engineers are women.
In the US and Europe, women have come a long way culturally, but most people still expect that most of the burden of housekeeping, childcare, school interface, looking after aging parents and similar family duties are done by the woman.
In the industrial automation business, an engineering career frequently demands long hours and lots of travel - tough for a man, harder for a woman. It's not discrimination, but rather a systemic pressure that most people can't do much about. It's difficult to keep the family balanced when the job requires an emergency plant visit at 2 am, or a month overseas on sales or service jobs.
Women engineers experience the most problems when it comes to moving up the corporate ladder. The systemic pressure, far more than any overt discrimination, adds layers to the proverbial "glass ceiling".
An insightful article in Control Magazine (weblink below) provides this list (summarized). Women engineers want to be:
If you are a woman and wish to utilize some of these resources - follow the web links below.
Engineer - re-engineer yourselfIn the global economy when engineering as well as manufacturing is going offshore, engineering leadership is at risk. Engineers must re-engineer themselves to revitalize their own careers and generate renewed success.
Decades ago, technology brought the era of "specialization" - knowing more and more about less and less. To advance faster you had to focus. But now technology had spread beyond national boundaries. Many emerging countries are developing comparable technical skills. New developments have accelerated to where companies must generate winning strategies beyond narrow technical advantages. Broad leadership vision and teamwork have become important.
If you're an engineer, this is for you. How are YOU doing? Do you still have your nose glued to your job, just hoping that others - Marketing, or Sales, or whatever - don't screw up and you'll get laid-off when your company gets down-sized?
Engineer, broaden your scope. Start thinking about the other factors that affect your success. Heed the advice of engineering guru's to learn "Total Concept Engineering".
Engineer - it's time to re-engineer yourself.
Apple iPhone débuts todayThe hype for the iPhone is building up to a crescendo this week, June 29th (the date of this issue of eNews). With all the hype, the new iPod/Web-access/cell gadget will have to be almost perfect. Even though it's phenomenal, if they don't sell a million in the first wave, it'll be a big disappointment.
Steve Jobs brings these extremely high expectation on himself. He has hyped the iPhone as "awesome", has orchestrated the launch to the point where anything less than blowout sales and rave reviews will tarnish his golden touch, the Apple image and stock price.
It's now a question of whether the iPhone will become the tipping point in iPhonomics, the Apple-driven post-PC era. Steve Jobs expects to win with superior technology that he claims is 5 years ahead of anyone else.
Heck, I just got a new Pocket-PC-Phone (the 8125) which syncs my Outlook calendar to beep me on all my appointments. I can check email, browse the web, look up Google Maps, read Word and text documents, play with Excel files and view Powerpoint presentations. It has a bigger screen to show off my pictures and videos, so that my (less than a year old) iPodVideo is now just a paperweight. (Wannna buy it? Cheap).
So, now do I want to give up my Pocket PC for a $499 iPhone? Must I sign up for another 2-year contract? Does it take my current SIM-card (with all my stored telephone numbers), or must I enter all those numbers again? And what about all my Word and Excel and Powerpoint files? And hey, I've gotten used to my phone beeping me for my next appointment. Can I sync. my Outlook Calendar?
The hype surrounding the iPhone has been extraordinary. But I won't go to an AT&T store at midnight to wait in line to buy one. But my son Chris Pinto is buying one - he's always first to get new gadgets and besides his old cellphone is kaput. I'll wait till I touch and feel the iPhone, to play with that virtual keyboard, to see whether I can trust it to do the multifarious things I now expect from my pocket-pc-phone-GPS-MP3-player.
After all the hype, it'll be really interesting to see what happens with Apple and Steve Jobs' new creation. Got any Apple stock? Gonna buy? Or sell?
eFeedbackRick Lamb [relamb@MidTechV.com] discusses US Presidential election campaign spending:
"Based on that comparison, I believe we should be spending MUCH more. No wonder half the population doesn't vote, the election commercials are drowned out in a sea of all the other competing advertisements. Even if $1B were extreme, the money sways the result in a positive fashion.
"I suggest that the two parties should spend relatively evenly overall, and put the money in hotly contested races. It balances out. Under funded ideas may get buried in the noise, but eventually a good idea starts rising to the top and an astute politician will be the first to claim it. The money will follow.
"You know it's not the 'best' idea that succeeds. What wins is a 'good enough' idea with a hell of a marketing campaign. If we spent MORE money on marketing the ideas for the future of our democracy, maybe people would spend as much time picking their next president as they do picking out a soft drink!
"Although $1B is really not much, most of it is spent bashing the other guy instead of positively pushing your own message, which is a real shame. Although it seems kind of ridiculous to be having debates so far out from the election, it is interesting to see a broad spectrum of candidates in a little more detail, before the 'powers that be' make up their mind over who is going to get the nominations. But still we'll be getting 45 second sound bites instead of 30."
"Playing 'Devil's Advocate' for a moment, there's a saying that 'behind every successful man there's a good woman'. So, whilst I have no problem with the concept of women running countries (I thought Maggie Thatcher was great and I've been married for 30 years!), let's not forget to look at the man behind her as well. Some of those have not been too impressive and can impact her performance or reputation.
"As regards fighting, let's also not forget that some of the famous women in history have not hesitated to take up arms in defense of what they believe/want to believe is right - Joan of Arc, Boudicca, Maggie Thatcher, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, etc."
"The question I have is this? Why now? If he felt this way before, why did he not make it a lynch pin of his earlier candidacy? Instead he used the same media methods, did not win (qualify that how one wishes) and writes that we are all wrong. What methods would he use if he decided to run again - the same ones I'd bet.
"Politicians of all parties, tend to dismiss the 'vox-populi' as a necessary evil to be manipulated for their own needs - regardless of the party, Democrat, Republican, etc.
"I personally think the British have one thing right in their election process (other countries too)- a 6 week time for campaigning and limited advertising. Make that a really level field. But the people that would have to vote such a reform are the very ones who would 'suffer' by it. Which means it won't happen.
"I would give Mr. Gore more credence if he stays out of running for office and brings these issues to light. His vested interests are less in this case, allowing for a more reasoned approach. Start to run and it all become disingenuous and self serving rhetoric."
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