Cold winds greeting opening day visitors to the Rockwell Automation Fair in St. Louis quickly yielded to a warm, hearty reception indoors at America's Center. About 14,000 attendees packed the 2-day event held Nov. 16-17. † In addition to a chance to mingle with Rockwell's nearly 100 Encompass partners, visitors could attend any of 50 plus technical sessions and dozens of workshops, eat a free lunch or two, and try to set a speed record for removing and installing a Nascar wheel. Espresso at one booth was handed out at no charge, with only the occassional patron asked to take a short survey in return. † The Rockwell Encompass partner program, according to manager Kim Porter,looks for third party products that complement the company's own automation and manufacturing solutions. The program embraces manufactured products that range from circuit protectors to valve controllers. † Encompass partner Spectrum Controls, for instance, teamed up with Rockwell to better bring its line of I/O modules, HMIs, and communications devices to its utility, processing, and manufacturing customers. When Rockwell suggested that Appleton Paper, a manufacturer of thermal copy products, use the company's Hart-enabled communications modules to collect pressure, temperature, and level data from a batch of new process equipment, Appleton engineers were able to implement the system with a minumum of new learning, according to Appleton's controls sytems supervisor, Steve Savoi. † The program helps smaller companies to qualify customers, Porter explains. It also helps a small company to have the "blessing" of a major like Rockwell Automation, according to Spectrum Controls' senior product manager, Neal Meldrum. † Anchoring the exhibit hall were Rockwell's seven booths, which covered the company's offerings in components, information software, maintenance, motor control, network architecture, security, safety, and integrated motion.††††††
Between exhibits, show goers had a chance to attend any number of tech forums, with tempting titles like "Basic Physics for Drive Systems Engineers," and "Using Excel in an Automated World." A 2 pm session Wednesday covering "The Ten Commandments of Applying Ethernet for Control," had prospective attendees overflowing the halls. † Long sign-up lines attested to the popularity of the hands-on labs, which served up short courses in everything from troubleshooting safety-relay systems to a session on PLC basics. † Next year, the fair moves to Baltimore.
This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Earlier this year paralyzed IndyCar drive Sam Schmidt did the seemingly impossible -- opening the qualifying rounds at Indy by driving a modified Corvette C7 Stingray around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.