“Being there 110% to offer any help we can is genuinely important to me and this company.”

~ John S. Rinaldi

John S. Rinaldi is a recognized expert in the design, development and integration of advanced networking devices in factory and building automation systems. He is experienced in all facets of manufacturing automation including device development (Allen-Bradley), factory floor controls (Kimberly-Clark) and enterprise systems (Procter & Gamble).

After graduating from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering, John worked in various capacities in the automation industry before once again fleeing back into the comfortable halls of academia. At the University of Connecticut, he obtained his Master’s Degree in computer science. While at UCONN, John developed groundbreaking controls for intelligent Avatars long before they became popular in gaming. John’s five books: The Industrial Ethernet Book, OPC UA: The Basics, Modbus: The Everyman’s Guide to Modbus, OPC UA – Unified Architecture: The Everyman’s Guide to OPC UA, and his latest, Ethernet/IP: The Everyman’s Guide to Ethernet/IP, are considered to be the “go-to” books in the industry.

In 1989, John founded Real Time Automation (RTA), a company dedicated to making industrial networking simple. Located in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, John serves as CEO and Business Development Manager. In his free time, John is a scuba diving enthusiast, and an active supporter of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Milwaukee, a non-profit organization dedicated to flying WWII, Korean, and Vietnam vets to Washington, DC to visit their memorials.

John hates formalities, which is why he is viewed by many as the most outspoken authority in industrial automation today. But don’t take our word for it, hear it straight from him…

I like to call myself the Dr. Phil of Industrial Automation. Why? Well, I shoot my mouth off a lot, I’m not nearly as smart as I think I am, and if I didn’t shave my head every day I would have the exact same hairstyle – a horseshoe of gray hair around my noggin.

I’m an engineer by trade; but honestly, I don’t think I’m very good at it. The reason I pursued the field is because my dad told me to. (Back in those days, people were born into jobs.) I bounced around early in my career, generally quitting a job after two years. When I didn’t quit, they fired me (shooting my mouth off and making jokes about management will do that.) After a while, I ended up at Allen-Bradley. I was thrown into an ‘interesting’ group of about 120 engineers and managers. The phrase “top-heavy” didn’t do it justice. NEXT!

For a short while, I left engineering and started a toy company. I started losing money fast. Around that time, Rockwell Automation (who acquired Allen-Bradley) asked me if I would be interested in doing communications protocol work to connect some devices up to a PLC. Once that project was complete, the phone kept ringing, so I did another, and another, and another…

For years, I spent time integrating products and systems with hundreds of features, 1,000+ page manuals, and countless headaches. But truth be told, it always came down to creating a system that performed a simple function in an application.  And then it dawned on me. Why pay for a Swiss Army knife, when all you need is a butter knife? That was my turning point, and Real Time Automation was born.

The company is a lot like me – odd, quirky, unpredictable and willing to take risks. I’ve feared for my life on a wild motorcycle ride in Bangkok, been booted from a Buddhist temple, swindled on the street in Italy and drank Irish whiskey in Dublin. Life is surprising and wonderful, and we want you to have that same kind of experience when working with us. We’ll send you gifts and put surprises in our product boxes. We have an Industrial Automation newsletter that doesn’t entirely focus on Industrial Automation. Our blogs may be on Modbus and IoT one week, and then be about the benefits of eating sauerkraut the next. This is all a reflection of me.

Our most important driving force is YOU, the customer. In my book, that means two things: simplicity and support. From my short time as a control engineer, I know how frustrating it is to have a machine down or be under deadline and need help from someone on the other end of the phone. Being there 110% to offer any help we can is genuinely important to me and our company.

Luckily for me, I found that I had a knack for finding people a lot more talented than me and turning them loose to make you more successful. Today we have about twenty employees and I can’t imagine a better group of bright, fun and talented people to work with.

When we’re not taking care of you, we’re having fun. That’s another influence from my father. Work hard, play hard. And we do. There are no “working hours” in our shop – you can play pool or ping pong whenever you want. There’s complete freedom to get the job done with whatever tools and processes that work best for each individual employee.

Nowadays, I wear a few hats. Writing, public speaking and company strategy. I think hard about what products you need today and what you’ll need tomorrow.

It’s a wild ride, but I love it. Real Time Automation is a unique company focused on offering simple solutions, providing superior support and making you successful while putting a smile on your face. It doesn’t get any better than that.


Read some of John’s blogs.


Listen to John S. Rinaldi’s Olde to Automation podcast


Read one of John’s books.

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