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Newsletter Issue # 39

The Flag
Are You Committing One of the Six and a Half Sins of Remote Monitoring?
Fun Facts and Trivia

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October 31, 2017
OPC UA Profiles
October 25, 2017
Why Modbus TCP?
October 17, 2017
The End of Cyclic Communication…
October 10, 2017
What is UTF?
October 3, 2017
Modbus to Azure
September 26, 2017
To Modbus or Not to Modbus, That Is the Question!

The Flag

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

No one could blame her for being tired, rundown and haggard. Two hundred and forty years of service can do that to you. Like many of us, she comes from ordinary and undistinguished origins. A mother, Betsy Ross, with hardworking Pennsylvania Quaker origins and a father, an obscure congressman from New Jersey.

Despite her pedestrian background, she’s come to symbolize the qualities and ideals that are America. She dons red stripes to symbolize resoluteness, toughness and valor; white stripes to signify goodness, purity, innocence and virtue; and blue for the most cherished principles of honesty, vigilance, perseverance, righteousness and justice. Her colors have often inspired optimism and hopefulness in enslaved, oppressed and disenfranchised people the world over.

Over the years she’s journeyed far and wide. She traveled with the US Marines in Tripoli to end piracy in the Mediterranean. With the World War 1 American Expeditionary Force to awful places like the Meuse-Argonne. With the Marines as they waded into withering machine gun fire on Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. She’s suffered the withering cold of Korea, the hot jungles of Vietnam and the sandstorms of Iraq. And never once to colonize or enslave, but always to secure freedom.

Her proudest moment may be when she flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 and survived the all night barrage from over 50 British warships. Commanding officer George Armistead knew the sight of her flying proudly through the night would inspire his soldiers and demoralize the British. Lawyer Francis Scott Key, on a British ship negotiating a prisoner exchange, was so inspired that he wrote new lyrics for an old British song about boozing and carousing. That song is now our national anthem.

Over those years, she’s endured tragedy at home. She’s been burned, vilified and mocked. But still, she accompanies firemen like those who rushed into the Twin Towers and coast guardsmen like those who rescue their fellow Americans, regardless of race, from rooftops in flood ravaged cities. She’s right there with the police officers who ran toward the gunfire in Las Vegas and who heroically broke down the door of that hotel room not knowing what might be on the other side. I would suspect she’s most proud of those officers she accompanies into the most crime ridden areas of our cities knowing that they are the only thing that stands between the innocents and those that would prey upon them.

She is the symbol of who we are, what we stand for and the ideals that we cherish. Is America perfect? Of course not. We never will be. But when we stand together to honor her, we reaffirm our commitment to the values symbolized by her red, white and blue, we honor all those who’ve shed blood to free tens of millions of people around the globe, for all that our fellow Americans have done and are doing every day for their fellow man.

Yes, I stand for the national anthem and put my hand over my heart. And when I look at that flag, I try not to shed a tear.



- John





· What color are the berries on the mistletoe plant?

·  What are the gifts the Three Wise Men gave baby Jesus, according to Christmas history?

· Two of the reindeers are named after weather phenomenon. Name the reindeer.

· In 1946, Nat King Cole recorded a hit with a song about “chestnuts roasting over an open fire.” What is the name of this song?


Answers located on bottom of page.


Are You Committing One of the Six and a Half Sins of Remote Monitoring?

Monitoring industrial processes isn’t exactly new. In fact, it’s not new at all. We’ve always been moving data to Enterprise systems. Thirty years ago, operators would record the values of mechanical counters to report what passed for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in that era: simple things like production counts, scrap counts and downtime. These daily shift tally sheets would go to the “IBM room” – called that because that’s where the IBM mainframe was – where a keypunch operator would put those values onto punched cards; those cards would be loaded up and transferred to a magnet tape. The tape would be mounted to print daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reports that someone hand carried around the plant. Days or weeks later, other copies would be mailed to the head office for analysis.

If this kind of remote monitoring sounds archaic to you, if it sounds like something from Fred Flintstone’s Slate Rock and Gravel Company, no one would argue with you. But it’s exactly how remote monitoring was done for nearly forty years.

Over the years, manufacturers endeavored to build computer systems to more easily monitor production systems. Recently, with the advent of new Internet communication technologies and Cloud data storage, those systems have improved to the point that monitoring industrial data is easier than ever.

First, apply thought and foresight
In fact, it’s now so uncomplicated that it’s being done with little thought and even less foresight. In fact, there are any number of companies committing one or more of the 6 ½ sins of remote monitoring:

Sin #1: Not starting with your KPIs.
Because it is so easy to move data to the Cloud, many companies just jump right to implementation. I have a hammer so I might as well just start pounding. The first step of a remote monitoring project should always be identify WHY you want to do remote monitoring in the first place. Do you need to understand your scrap numbers? Monitor your energy usage? Track downtime more closely? Start with your KPIs, identify what you need and what you are going to do with the data.

Sin #2: Confusing transport technologies with communication solutions.
Technologies like HTTP, HTTPS, MQTT, AMQP and other technologies that move data are simply transports. All they do is move data from point A to point B. They do not provide an architecture for secure, reliable communication. These transports lack the contextual information which identifies that data, indicates how it’s formatted and other metadata. Pretending that these technologies provide end-to-end solutions is a house of cards that is going to cost you time and money in the future.

Sin #3: Thinking that just adding TSL (the standard encryption mechanism) to a transport provides you with security.
Yes, TSL adds a measure of security to a packet being transported over the Internet. But are you getting end-to-end security? Many of the standard transports use brokers and, even though your data is encrypted in and out of the broker, it might be unencrypted on the broker. Many people underestimate just how vulnerable data can be in a broker.

Sin #4: Believing you own the data.
Many companies are adding Internet of Things (IoT) type communications to their industrial devices. They envision selling those devices to the GMs, P&Gs and other big manufacturers to provide a platform where they can harvest that data and monetize it. The question to ask is “Do you own that data?” If I’m a large manufacturer and I buy a measuring system, paint sprayer or quality analysis tool from you, my position is that I own the data it generates. Why would any manufacturer let you monetize their data?

Sin #5: Not knowing the “how” of monetizing data.
Even if you own the data, you need to ask, “OK, what can we do with it?” And it turns out, this is often a very difficult question. It’s the question everyone avoids while they’re busy getting the bytes moving from A to B. What’s our business model for monetizing this data? Who are we going to sell it to? What problem are we solving for them? And how much are they willing to pay for solving that problem? These questions should all be resolved long before that first byte is transmitted.

Sin #6: Storing your Cloud data in a server within your physical plant.
This is a mind bender. Can you really provide better physical security, hardware infrastructure, electrical backup and all the rest than the people who are in the business of maintaining server infrastructures? Yes, it feels better knowing that your data is back there in that locked room, but do you have the same argument for not using offsite data applications like Dropbox, Gmail and MS Office?

Sin #6.5: Believing you need to build your own analytics package.
If you’re one of these people that believe you can build a vastly superior analytics package that will be the envy of the world, then go ahead. Most likely you’re not going to be smarter, more dedicated and better-resourced than the analytics teams at Google, Microsoft and Amazon, so just use an off-the-shelf package.

The greatest problem with remote monitoring today is that it is now so much easier to accomplish it, which means many of us are jumping into it too fast and without a lot of thought. Don’t let that happen to you on your next remote monitoring project.







Remembering Dick Morley

Everyone at RTA is saddened by the loss of Dick Morley, the “father” of the programmable controller (PLC). There are not many people that come to be known for founding entire industries, but Dick was one of those people. At just 34 years old, he turned a problem – the difficulty applying 1960 era minicomputers to logic tasks – into an industry. Sadly, Dick lost a son many years ago and his wife, Shirley, in recent years. Dick was known for his devotion to Shirley and suffered greatly at her passing. Our condolences to the Morley family.



Fun Facts

·A snowflake can take up to a hour to fall from the cloud to the surface of the Earth.

·The shape of a snowflake is determined by temperature, wind, the amount of time it takes to fall to the ground, and the amount of water vapor in the air.

·The colder it is outside, the smaller the snowflakes that fall.

·Each winter in the U.S., at least 1 septillion ice crystals fall from the sky (that's 24 zeros!).



Product Spotlight

If connecting an Allen-Bradley PLC and a BACnet/IP building automation system is important to you, but combining your building network and automation networks makes you uneasy, you can relax. You can now separate traffic, eliminate security risks and simplify traffic routing with the 460ETCBS-N2E.

TWO Ethernet Connections while also Improving Security, Simplifying Commissioning and Reducing Integrations Risks.

With the 460ETCBS-N2E, you have a solution that designates an Ethernet network connection for the Allen-Bradley PLC and another for the BACnet/IP network. You don’t need additional switch hardware to bridge the two networks. Each port resides on a separate network with a unique IP address. Data is mapped intelligently between your PLC and BACnet/IP network. No other Ethernet traffic is passed between the networks.

Network traffic is not routed between the two networks. Traffic between variable frequency drives and your PLC will not consume bandwidth on your building automation network. Remote access allowed in your building monitoring system will not compromise the security of your PLC network. You move data between networks while maintaining the separate integrity of both networks. This creates a more secure, more manageable and lower risk solution to bridge networks.


  • Dual Ethernet Ports – A Separate connection for each Network

  • Move Up to 2400 Analog values and 3200 Binary Values between an AB PLC and BACnet/IP

  • Simple Browser Based Configuration

Visit or call (262) 436-9299 for more information and order yours today!



  Trivia Answers: White; Gold, Myrrh, and Frankincense; Donner and Blitzen which mean thunder and lightning in German; The Christmas Song

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