Newsletter Issue # 14

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 

Fun Facts and Trivia

Get a free RTA water bottle this month only!

Email your name and address to: jladd@rta- by October 15th to claim your steal of the month.

How Can I Implement EtherNet/IP?
Profinet to Allen-Bradley PLC
KE Show June 2013



Practical tips and information for young engineers. This issue, featuring:

- The Real Time Automation Story

- What's With all the BACnet MS/TP Masters?


A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

Since the last newsletter I’ve had another birthday. I won’t say how old I am but I will say that I have fewer days left than I’ve already had.

I was thinking about this the other day and you know what? I think I’m “Obsolete.” Let’s look at the evidence.

Point 1 - I had this really nice Schwinn 10 speed when I was young. Little did I know that I now know nothing about bikes. My grandson tells me he wouldn’t even be seen riding such a horror. He has bike called a Mongoose or some other animal.

Point 2 - I’ve never tweeted! I’ve never read a tweet, written a tweet or thought about tweeting. In fact, I am a tweet illiterate.

Point 3 - I read books the old fashioned way by turning pages. I write in my books, make lists of newly discovered words in the back, write notes to myself in the margins and generally abuse them. Have never used the Barnes & Noble thing or that Amazon thing even once.

Point 4 - I’ve never sexted anyone. Not sure I know how. And if I did know, I am pretty sure I’d be way too embarrassed to send out pictures of my body parts. I don’t even like looking at them.

Point 5 - I know this will upset a bunch of you but I don’t like soccer. Never will. It’s a wimpy game. Tell me this, “Is it a sport if there is no final end to the game?” What kind of nonsensical game is this where they can just decide to play a little longer?

Point 6 - I think men and women are different. I think that in general men are really good at having and completing a mission. Women, in general, are much better at understanding and working the people issues. Particular individuals – it’s a tossup – but in general I believe these characteristics are more common than not. And I like the differences.

Point 6’ - (that’s six prime for those of you who didn’t take a lot of math) I think women are special. They have the awesome ability to bring life into the world. That’s really special and deserving of incredible respect.

Point 7 - I believe in personal responsibility. I believe in taking care of myself and my family. I don’t want any handouts from anyone. I don’t want anything free. I don’t play the lottery for fear that I’d win. I want everything that I have to be the product of these two hands and what’s left of the loose gray matter between my ears.

Point 8 - I don’t have any tats. That’s tattoos for those of you born before 1980. I’m mystified by this. Especially on women. Guys bodies are functional. We’re built to move the furniture around (why else would a woman get married?). Women’s bodies are beautiful. Why mess with perfection? But if I did get a tattoo I would probably get the Profinet logo. That’d probably get me in free every year to the Profinet International conference and be a hoot at the pool party.

Great story about tats. I recently came back from the Inc 500 Small Business conference. I was telling this to some college kids and they were amazed that I was at that conference. Until I realized they were thinking “INK” not “INC." INK is the name of the big tattoo magazine. I got a lot less cool really fast.

Point 9 - I like challenges. When I was a kid Rubik’s Cube was hard. Monopoly took a year to play. I had to fix my own bike. I had to actually walk up to a girl, talk to her in person to ask her to Prom. I didn’t just text her “Prom?” Now they’ve dumbed down the Cube, made Monopoly easier and you can just text a girl at 2 in the morning to get together.

Point 10 - I’ve never Grouponed, Facebooked, Pinterested, FourSquared or StumbleUponed and don’t know much about what those things are. I have a Facebook page but I honestly don’t know the password. It was created for me and I haven’t found a reason to go look at it. Not sure what it says but I am told I have some “friends.” I like having friends. Hope that Facebook doesn’t make it easy for them to ask me for money.

Point 11 - I can’t tell you any single TV show I watch, Tivo, or see on Hulu. In the 80’s I loved Dallas. The only show that I could claim I watch with some consistency is Naked and Afraid. And that’s because I have this fantasy I could live off my wits, instinct and skills in the jungle. In actuality I’d just climb the nearest tree and cry if I found myself in the jungle facing snakes, spiders and crocodiles.

So, I find myself after this birthday as not a very hip, cool guy. I’ve always been a pretty nerdy engineer, and now I find that I’m also obsolete. Apparently I don’t have the technology to connect with all the beautiful and important people. But despite that I am for the most part pretty happy and contented with my life.

And that’s what’s important.



Trivia Challenge

· What is the name for the full moon which occurs closest to the autumnal equinox?

· What percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids' Halloween trick-or-treat bags?

· What is hard cider?

· The Arctic Tern is a bird known for having one of the longest migrations in the Fall season, how long is it's impressive journey?

· According to the National Confectioners Association, chocolate makes up about what percentage of a trick-or-treater’s loot?



Answers located on bottom of page.



One of the many nice things about the industrial automation industry is the pace of change. It’s not that frenzied kind of change that you find on the Internet. With Internet technologies, you wake up every day not knowing if your product was obsoleted over night by some scruffy 17 year old working in his parent’s basement.

It’s not that we don’t have change in the Industrial Automation industry, we do. And that change is continuous but usually not rapid. Today the change is about making connections from automation devices go beyond controllers to all sorts of production systems, analysis engines and Enterprise applications. There’s work being done in many areas to achieve this, and in this article I am going to talk about three of them.

The first is standardization efforts. There is more and more standardization to speed the deployment of systems and provide easier delivery of machine data to supervisory systems beyond the factory floor.

The packaging industry is way ahead of a lot of other industries in its standardization efforts. Packaging machines come in all shapes and sizes. They sort, collect, wrap, box and manage every product imaginable from pills to water to disposable diapers. And what’s interesting about those kinds of machines is that they are an add-on to the production machinery. Because they are an add-on, there is little in terms of trade secrets to protect and more possibility for standardization among manufacturers. A tissue company, for example, keeps the formula to manufacture their tissues a secret. But the machinery to wrap it? Not so much.

So in the packaging industry, a bunch of folks got together in the early 2000s and started a standardization effort. After all, there are a lot of commonalities from one packaging machine to another. There are always drives, a sealer of some sort, conveyor control, probably a folder of some sort and so on. A lot of this stuff is pretty common.

So, to make all of that easy to integrate, these folks have defined the PackML standard. The primary objective of PackML is to bring a common “look and feel” and operational consistency to machines that make up a Packing Line or a Packaging Machine. This standard includes:

· Machine states and operational flow

· Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) data

· Flexible recipe schemes and common SCADA or MES inputs

Machines that support PackML can be brought to market quicker and integrated faster than machines that don’t. HMIs, tools and PLC programs that support PackML have a common set of Tags that are used throughout the machine for common data making everything easier to integrate. This kind of effort is being repeated in many different industries, though most aren’t as well along as the packaging industry.

A second area that is simplifying data communications is the increasing use of XML – eXtended Markup Language. XML is a standard way of representing data that is part and parcel of a lot of Microsoft applications. It’s a mechanism for sending data from one system to another using ASCII tags that have beginning and ending tag headers like “<Flow_Rate>1.235<\Flow_Rate>.

The advantage of using this kind of communication is that a number of databases, applications, Excel, Word and other standard Microsoft applications can easily import this kind of data from factory floor devices. The downside is that the data is in ASCII, meaning that low resource devices are going to have a hard time saving and transmitting data in XML file format. Where 125 can be stored in a single byte, it costs 3 bytes in ASCII, plus all the characters for the tag name – however long that might be.

RTA is releasing a product to move PLC data out of Rockwell PLCs like ControlLogix, PLC5E, SLC 5/05s and MicroLogix and sending it to Excel using XML. It can move several hundred tags every second and is perfect for low speed, low volume, and low cost data archiving applications.

A third way that data integration is being simplified is the new OPC UA standard. OPC UA is the follow up to the OPC standard that we have known and loved for the last 15 or 20 years. OPC UA extends OPC to lots of additional platforms, adds cryptographic security like you use for online banking, and provides much more extensive use of data models.

For a quick and easy introduction to OPC UA you can get my book, OPC UA: The Basics, for under twenty dollars from Amazon. Just use the search term “OPC UA” to find it. But, as a thank you gift for reading my newsletter, I am going to send a free copy to the first 25 people who send an email with their mailing address to jrinaldi at rtaautomation dot com. Just put OPC UA in the subject line.

I started this article saying that the pace of change in Industrial Automation is generally pretty slow. I am going to close by saying that that statement is probably incorrect. The pace of change is increasing and our industry will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 30. More industry specific standards and data models, increasing use of standard internet type communication protocols and OPC UA are going to have a huge impact on how we do business going forward. I hope you’re ready for it.





Fun Facts

·Trick-or-treating goes back to the Middle Ages and All Souls’ Day, when poor people in Britain would beg for soul cakes, a sweet-bread treat, and pray for dead relatives in return.

·Watching scary movies burns more calories than any other genre - they can burn up to 200 calories, which is about the same as a half hour walk.

·Halloween is the second most commercially successful holiday behind Christmas at number one.

·September’s name comes from the Latin words septem which means seven and septimus which means seventh, as it was the seventh month in the ancient Roman calendar. September became the ninth month of the year when the Julian calendar was adopted.



  Trivia Answers: Harvest moon; 90%; Fermented apple juice; 11,000 miles; 75%
  RTA Website