Goodbye 2013


2013 is in the rearview mirror. As I think back over 2013 I am reminded of the Dickens line from Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”.


2013 was another exceptional year for our company and our products. It exceeded the high expectations I had at the end of last year. It was an exceptional year in many ways for me personally. I was able to spend significant time in Italy, I received my Advanced Open Water Diving Certificate, ran a number of 5K races, learned a lot about measuring and building a culture in a business and discovered some new technologies that are going to impact Industrial Automation in the future.


But on the other side of the ledger, I had some people really disappoint me. I now think there are two tests of friendship. One, it has to stand the test of time. People come and go in your life but friends always remain friends. Until your friendship has withstood the ravages of time you probably don’t really have friendship. I have one or two friendships of over 35 years now.


The other important one is tempering. A friendship has to be tempered like iron. Tempering subjects a metal to stresses. The metal either survives and goes on to take its place as an important component in a larger structure or it’s discarded. It’s the same with friends. There needs to be something that stresses the relationship to make it a valued and important component of your life.


One of the most interesting things I learned in 2013 is that Ethernet in Automation is not king. He’s not even a prince yet. 73% of devices in an industrial automation environment are still Modbus, DeviceNet, Profibus and the rest. It isn’t anticipated that Ethernet enabled devices will be the majority of devices for at least another 15 years, maybe more. With all the focus that people like me have on Profinet IO, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP we sometimes lose track of what’s actually going on in the field.


And that’s serial communications using CAN and RS485. Which bodes very well for our Automation Device Converters as something needs to convert those serial channels to Ethernet.


That reminds me again that I have to try really hard to not let the forest get in the way and to really see the trees. I guess I am not that different.


Politicians do it. They focus on what’s going in “the beltway”. They’ll fight tooth and nail over stuff the people in the country really don’t care about. Most people don’t understand the Senate’s rules and couldn’t care less.


Corporate managers do it. They have a really hard time seeing the clouds on the horizon when sales are up and their bonuses are up even more. Most of the leaders at GM failed to see the need for smaller cars until it was too late though there is a lot of blame to go around there.


One of the things I am going to do in 2014 is to try to be more realistic and look for those trees in all kinds of forests. I hope you will stay tuned to see what I discover.