Three Old Industrial Automation Technologies Only an Idiot Would Abandon

Three Industrial Automation Technologies Only an Idiot Would Abandon

Hello, my name is Jansen, and I am a hoarder (Hi, Jansen).

I absolutely hate throwing things away. I have a strange and arguably unhealthy compulsion to hold onto everything. I keep everything from old shirts that don’t fit (you know, just incase I ever lose 20 pounds), to board games I haven’t played in 10 years, to DVDs I have watched maybe once (and are now on Netflix). I cannot stand the idea of giving something up just in case it one day becomes needed. My wife has been begging me to fix and donate my old broken guitar that I never really learned to play. The problem is, I have no idea how to fix it. Plus, what if I ever decide to try to learn guitar again? You just never know.

If you’re a young person entering the industrial automation industry, you might feel tempted to ditch the technology of the past just as you did Myspace and AOL. But beware, the technologies of the past still have a home in today’s factory floors. In other words, don’t be an idiot. The following are three technologies that you absolutely must hold onto.

1. EtherNet/IP

You would be absolutely out of your mind to remove EtherNet/IP from your factory floor. Sure, EtherNet/IP is 21 years old this year, but its longevity has not surpassed its usefulness. Unlike its peers, DeviceNet and PROFIBUS, EtherNet/IP does not have many limitations in terms of physical networking. It still uses standard Ethernet, which is the physical network of choice for most factories and has no challenger on the horizon.

Its success can be credited to two things primarily: First, it is an excellent method of moving data between low-level manufacturing devices and controllers. It supports greater bandwidth that allows for faster data transfers. Secondly, it is the standard used by the most popular controller in North America, ControlLogix.

2. Modbus

Ah yes, an oldie but a goodie. I personally disagree with the nickname “granddaddy” of industrial protocols. Rather, we should begin calling it the “Betty White” of industrial protocols because it’s still working, still innovating, and damn-near immortal. Sure, Modbus might no longer be the top dog, but it is still a fast and easy way of connecting small devices that do not require a ton of bandwidth or speed. It is also inexpensive to implement. Today, there are still thousands of Modbus devices in factories. Perhaps Modbus wont last forever like Betty White will, but it certainly isn’t time to abandon quite yet.


ASCII is quite an old fart; it was first published in 1963. Don’t let the fact that this technology is no spring chicken confuse you. ASCII is the key to moving barcode data into PLCs. Furthermore, ASCII has been the key to barcoding, labeling, and printing in the last thirty years. Why? It’s the only data format that can be universally decoded by any computer on the planet. Anything with a label contains ASCII data. Every barcode reader is a series of ASCII characters. As long as humans communicate via letters and numbers, there will be a need for ASCII.

ASCII data was originally transmitted over serial communications like RS-232 and RS-485. Since then, ASCII has evolved to be compatible with EtherNet/IP, PROFINET IO, and Modbus TCP. Now, ASCII has evolved beyond the factory to a higher-level system—the Cloud. Perhaps the simplest way to get ASCII data there is through MQTT into a database, and then storing it using the Raptor Data Historian.

For more information about how you can utilize old technologies to move your data, give us a ring at 1-800-249-1612 or email us at In the meantime, I better get down to business. I have a lot of useless stuff to get rid of.