Norcimbus software engineer, Peter Golde, uses Siemens' TIA Portal to customize features on this touchscreen PLC. The integration of the Portal makes configurations for customers' specifications more seamless and user friendly.
I'm becoming familiar with many of the Siemens packages / hardware, I have taken a few training classes and I am impressed with the big picture stance that they are taking. TIA Portal still has a bit of growing up to do before it can perform all of the tasks that the older software packages could do, but it's on the way and the integration is really nice. Plus, they actually sell a reasonably priced industrial Ethernet switch.
We also use a lot of Allen-Bradley / Rockwell Automation stuff here and one of the big differences is support. The A-B people won't even talk to you unless you have a support contract, or open a P.O. for each telephone call. Siemens on the other hand will talk to you for free if you're using their equipment. I like the equipment from both companies, but the Siemens support really does make a difference sometimes.
This is the same argument that IBM has made in the past. They are trying to get back to it. The advantage is that the vendor has a long history of supporting their products and handling long life cycle situations. They also have a large and extensive support organization. Companies that fit this category also are sensitive to the fact that they can put at risk future sales if they do not respond. This is important in so many industries, none more so than industrial control. Yes, with digital components and standards it is possible to cobble together a solution, but that requires more expense on the customer side.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
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