Really a great article, John. So do we know how it's being received in a quantitative way? What perceentage of controls engineers are willing to (as they used to say), cross over to the dark side? What percentage are just saying, no, I won't ever do this?
Increasing integration in A&C does seem to be the wave of the future, and that includes robotics, as I predict in my Top 5 Robotics Trends of 2011: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=236475&. Integrating multiple control functions in hardware, as well as into a single IDE, will enable all this. And making it scalable can only be done by integrating PC-based hardware.
This is a great intro and I found the discussion of safety of particular value. The implementation of safety standards throughout the factor, and in products via traceable design-for-safety processes, is going to be a huge issue in 2012 and beyond. As well, the HMI stuff in this article was extremely valuable in the context of fielding a complete automation solution.
Everyone has had the experience of trying to scrape the last of the peanut butter or mayonnaise from the bottom of a glass jar without getting your hand sticky. Inventor Ron Jidmar thinks he has a solution to all of that nonsense with a flexible jar design that can be squeezed with one hand to lift contents from the bottom to the top of a jar or container, leaving the other hand free to scoop the contents out cleanly.
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