10 Years ago I could not use an iPhone

PUBLISHED: 5 Oct 2017 11:39AM

It seems a long time now since we have had smartphones.

the very thought of going more than a few hours without a smartphone seems incomprehensible to say the very least. Technology nowadays moves so fast that we expect to have all information instantly and find we become frustrated when we cant.

Our memories are extremely short, remember 90’s dial up internet , remember GPRS… we are now furious when we dont have 20Mbps+ and cant gain 4G (which has only been available for circa  5 years in the UK).

Technology has crept into every part of our lives, I must admit I personally feel it is for the better.

As an engineer I spent most of my career working with high-end and cutting-edge technologies. Now as a director of a company supplying into the industries whom require these services, I see a lot of other engineers with a reluctance to bring these technologies into industry. Technology without a doubt made millions of people’s lives a lot simpler. It is also now, the cornerstone of safe and profitable manufacturing. Connected technologies and visualisation of process can be viewed on a smartphone via a low priced app, giving process owners and managers instant access to their plant , anywhere on the planet.

Talking specifically about PLC’s, smaller and robust technologies are becoming widely available form manufacturers who where unheard of 10 years ago and offered at a much, lower cost to some of the more established brands. I personally had cause to use a PLC which was specified by a client which with the necessary I/O, Comms module, PSU  and software cost over £3,000. Halfway through the project the client had cause to change some of the requirements for the machine tasks. Liaison with the PLC manufacturer support team, could not offer a solution to the code requirement. The programming software was commercially available in the year 2001, not much had changed since that date. Subsequent conversations highlighted a new product in the range and a new (non compatible) software release. Another PLC was sought to complete the project, a replacement was found with an integral PSU and 3 configurable comms ports (with all the latest protocol which was configurable). The added bonus of free software and Codesys plug in  (Codesys enables the tags to be exported from PLC into another supporting device , without the duplication and potential errors from manual input). The PLC in question with I/O came out at £540. This begs the question… why not change ?

Most engineers within a manufacturing plant are stretched to capacity to drive forward improvements, projects,  and equipment efficiency. A machine control system which is working is easier to modify and maintain….. is the usual school of thought…

Another, is to keep things current and future proofed , we have all heard in the news about major companies and organisations who have fell foul of old technologies and outdated software, causing major global issues. This is what is lurking in the electrical cabinets of an outdated control system, more so , as the code is usually bespoke and potentially written by someone who doesn’t work for the OEM anymore. Couple that with outdated hardware and that is the recipe for a monumental disaster.

10 years ago I couldn’t use an iPhone …. because they didnt exist, it now feels the most natural thing in the world.

Thats how fast technology moves.

Is your plant up to date ???

 

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