Newsletter Insert Jan. 2013

Drew & Scott’s Young Gun Automation Insert

My Baby Boomer Boss is Worried About MY Generation?
Drew Baryenbruch

I sigh whenever I hear management or a Keynote speaker touch on the topic of changes in the workplace our generation will force. In this industry it seems all the bosses and speakers are Baby Boomers and their outlook on us is never positive. Doesn’t it seem a bit hypocritical that the generation responsible for greatest cultural shift of the last century, including pushing forward civil rights, a modern view of war and a sexual revolution, (thank you!) is worried about the affect of Facebook?

If you read an article from a leading expert on generational workplace attitudes you get the follow generally accepted attitudes about work.

(1922-1945) the company comes first. The veteran believes in starting at the bottom and working their way up.

Baby Boomers
(1946-1964) Baby boomers have a strong work ethic. They may not be as loyal to one company. They believe strongly in education, but that on-the-job experience trumps a degree.

Generation X (1965-1980) Education and creativity count for something. You shouldn’t have to start at the bottom if you have fresh ideas. Generation X’rs have never understood why they should care about company “traditions.”

Generation Y (1981-2000) Generation Y members believe they have great ideas (at least that’s what they’ve been told) They want to do their own thing and believe the results will follow. They like their workplaces but prefer to work from home. Susceptible to change jobs when they get bored.

It seems clear that the “experts” are Baby Boomers. I can’t help but think that if we jumped into a DeLorean going 88mph and traveled to 1960 the leading experts of the time might have had an even more jaded view of the Baby Boomers. Maybe there is an omni-generational truth that always seems lost in the present? It’s a nostalgic, good-ole day’s syndrome that makes everyone think the future is damned because it is no longer being guided by their particular generation. I understand the apprehension brought on by the passing of the torch but that doesn’t excuse a lot of the rhetoric being thrown at generation X and Y.

Generation X took our industry from slide rules and mechanically linked automation lines to the digital age. It’s not generation X’s fault that they could create a digital systems that improved productivity or that they had to teach their bosses the power of Ctl, Alt, Delete. Was it wrong for them to feel entitled to compensation for the value they offered? Technology allowed them to be more effective than their predecessors and the only way to be compensated in the “Ole boy’s system” was to start the practice of company jumping. How many of you still work at companies where the only way to get more than a 2-3% annual raise is to leave the company and come back?

Yes experience counts for something but the pace of technologic advances has greatly reduced the value of accumulated skills. The idea of a craftsmen honing his skill, ever improving his craft is mostly inapplicable in our market. Here being good at “X” is a marketable skill for a year or two. You are a seasoned pro until they release the upgrade, then that skill is mostly useless.

Compensation systems based solely on seniority undermine businesses in emerging technology fields. That change can be attributed to Technology not generation X’s attitude.

Generation Y is ushering in the age of information to an industry that shared information with traveling salesmen and yearly tradeshows. It’s not our generation’s fault that we grew up confident the answer to any question is only a Google search away or that entire conversations can be distilled down to short hand acronyms. LOL GF JK HAK G2G! Our generation constantly takes flack for being unfocused, entitled and lazy. We are told 40% of us end up living at home in our 20’s and when we do work it’s on our Facebook profiles. We will be the ruin of America… Give me a break!

First if we are going to start placing blame for the ruin of anything lets at least focus on a generation who had a hand in the game. I can assure you generation Y did not spend it’s teen years under minding the modern worlds economy we now face as job prospects. We didn’t come into the job market during boom years like the baby boomers or generation X. We are coming of age in the midst of the worst world market since the great Depression.

We do have different work habits but our generation brought technology that changed the expectations of employees to match those habits. The idea of 9-5 is gone. We are never allowed to leave the “office” we apparently don’t like to work at. That is because the office is in our pocket. We can call, email, access files, and monitor processes with our phones. You are hard pressed to find locations in the lower 48 where you can don’t have cell phone reception now. I was ice fishing on Red Lake in northern MN (temp -25) yesterday and emails from work continued to pour in. If there is some expectation that we put our personal lives or vacations on hold for 24/7 access to work is it really that terrible of a thing to check Facebook for 5 min between 9-5 at the office?

Change is inevitable and I certainly don’t know who is right. What I do know is that as a country, each generation has found a way to rise to the occasion. I don’t think that will be a tradition lost on our generation. It’s our job to prove that to the Boomers.

Ethernet Communication: From the Time Before Ethernet!
Scott Zukewich w/ Jamin Wendorf

In September, I talked about the serial physical layer. This month, let’s talk about another physical communication layer, Ethernet.

Industrial protocols like EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP/IP, BACnet/IP and Profinet IO all communicate over the Ethernet physical layer. Unlike serial protocols multiple Ethernet protocols can coexist on the same physical network. This dramatically cuts down on wiring costs and allows for various topologies (ring, star, tree, linear, etc…). This may seem intuitive but people often have a hard time grasping this concept.

A question we get all the time is, “Your gateway has one RJ45 connector, so how do I connect my two Ethernet protocols?” The simple answer is “plug the gateway into a switch which will allow it to communicate with 100’s of different Ethernet devices over that single physical connection”, but the logic is a bit harder to grasp. No one thinks twice about viewing multiple web pages while sending an email on a PC with a single Ethernet port. Yet when you put five Modbus TCP/IP server devices and an Ethernet/IP PLC in front of them with a switch and a gateway the pieces don’t line up. You have to accept that a single Ethernet connection can carry multiple protocols. If you consider that each web page you look at in your browser represents a different physical device located somewhere else in the world the idea is a bit easier to grasp.

The reason multiple protocols can all live on a single Ethernet network is that the protocol data is carried inside common layer 2 Ethernet packets with different EtherType frames (like ARP, IP, Profinet). All messages at this layer are addressed using the Ethernet MAC Address. This is a 6 byte field unique to all devices in the world. For this paper we’ll focus on IP messages using IPV4 32-bit addressing.

Once you know you are using the IP layer, you start communicating to devices using their IPV4 IP address. This address is unique within a subnet or LAN.
Now that you know you are using IP messaging, you filter on the IP Protocol (TCP, UDP, etc…). All protocols use different TCP/UDP ports numbers. This is how devices know if a packet is Modbus TCP or EtherNet/IP (or HTTP, email, FTP, etc…).

Some common TCP ports numbers:
80 – HTTP (web)
502 – Modbus TCP
44818 – EtherNet/IP

Some common UDP ports numbers:
2222 – EtherNet/IP
47808 – BACnetIP

Rule of Thumb: If you are working with a device that has a single RJ45 port then all Ethernet devices connected to it via a hub or switch must be addressed on the same subnet. The only way to connect Ethernet devices on different subnets is with a router.

Ethernet networks of more than two devices require a switch or hub. There are two kinds of switches to know Unmanaged and Managed. Unmanaged switches are usually fine for the small networks (2-5 devices). Unmanaged switches simply pass simply pass a packet from one device to another on a first come first served basis. If however you have a network with lots of devices the rule is, get a managed switch or regret it. A managed can prioritize packets that are time sensitive, route messages across subnets and gives you a diagnostic point unmanaged switch will not.

What’s the difference between a Hub, Switch, and Router? A hub receives all Ethernet packets from one port and transmits the packet to all other ports whether the devices that are receiving the message can accept that message or not. A switch receives all Ethernet packets from one port and filters the message based on the Ethernet layer or LAN network. The device that receives the forwarded message replies back to the switch and the switch will know who to send the response to.

A router allows for devices that are located on two different subnets to communicate to each other. With a router, you have to set up specific information, known as a routing table, to identify which devices can talk with devices not on the same subnet. As an example, you would have to specify device A can communicate to device B. Device B can communicate with device A and C. Device C can communicate with Device B. You can also set restrictions like, Device A and B cannot communicate to each other.

Tools of the Trade:
Wire shark is a fantastic tool for Ethernet Network trouble shooting. It gives you the ability to monitor and capture all visible traffic on the network. All traffic on a hub is visible. Only select traffic on an unmanaged switch is visible. Many managed switches allow for port-mirroring so you can see all traffic. Wireshark is free from

Any Questions about your system? Give us a call or Email.