One-day Training Classes Conclude for 2008

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Saturday morning, flying east out of Phoenix on the first leg of my trip to the SPS/Drives show in Germany and from my window seat I have a great view of the dams and lakes on the Salt River.  And they’re full.  After our drought, this is a wonderful sight.  The Arizona scenery is spectacular in its own right of course.  I’m now looking down on the Grand Canyon of the Salt.  Not as spectacular as the Grand Canyon of the Colorado obviously but this one you can drive through.  Sigh.  Now back to work…

Our one-day training classes have concluded for 2008 and we are already planning for 2009.  Watch the website or subscribe to PROFInews North American Edition to see next year’s schedule.  But let’s finish 2008 first.

I was in Chicago (Oak Brook, actually) for the final PROFINET one-day training event of 2008 as I blogged last time.  Now let me respond to some of the topics brought up in the course evaluations:

One attendee wanted to know more about “How to access standard Ethernet products over a PROFINET network.”  The answer: Pretend PROFINET is not there; PROFINET is just Ethernet so it does not impact standard Ethernet devices.  The beauty of Ethernet is that it supports multiple applications at the same time.  Just use your standard Ethernet devices like you would in any non-PROFINET network.  Two caveats.  One, if you are using PROFINET for motion control, be sure you enter the motion control portion of the network through a PROFINET IRT capable Ethernet switch.  Two, if your other application is Ethernet/IP, make sure you have IGMP snooping in the managed switches to keep EIP from flooding the network.

We had a couple of suggestions for improving the class.  “More low level and technical application training.  Perhaps more demos.”  We agree with the latter; next year’s class will have beefed-up demos.  For the former, another attendee rightly observed “Would like more information on setting up a network form scratch.  This is probably covered in the developer course…”  He was right; there is a limit to how much detail we can go into in the one-day class.  Check out our PROFItech class schedule for 2009.  The schedule should be finalized in December.  The PROFINET Certified Network Engineer class gets into a lot of detail.

Additional constructive criticism included: “Less why PROFIBUS/PROFINET; more how.”  And “In greater detail – the history of PROFIBUS/PROFINET.  In less detail – programming examples.”  This is the first time we’ve heard these and we are probably not going to make these changes.  The ‘why’ is inextricably tied to the ‘where’ so it will stay.  Most feedback says to say less about the history and more about the programming and that’s our plan.

Some positive reinforcement:

“Thank you for the additional knowledge and resources that were gathered today.”

“I thought the material that was covered was great.”

“Great overview. Very helpful.”

Some of our exhibitors drove down from Oak Brook to Indianapolis for the 2008 conclusion of our PROFIBUS one-day training events the next day.  I stayed behind in Oak Brook for the PROFINET Developer Workshop the next day.  But I still heard and read feedback from the 85 of you who were there in Indy.

The course evaluations included these contradictory comments from two of the attendees:

   “More PROFIBUS/less PROFINET.”

   “More emphasis on new technologies like PROFIsafe and PROFINET.”

We are substantially revising the course for next year.  We will still emphasize PROFIsafe and PROFINET, but we will try to spend ample time on PROFIBUS.

Some good points that we will address in next year’s curriculum:

   “More demos.  Hook some stuff up and show how to use it.” (There were a number of comments in this vein.)

   “In addition – Manually starting up a network from power up.  I want to see specific components addressed and configured.”

We will be more demo-focused in 2009.  We’ll also re-orient the material to reflect how a user executes a PROFIBUS project.  So, look for component addressing, configuration, etc. to be well-covered.

   “More on troubleshooting.”

For 2009, we’ll reference some of the troubleshooting tools and show how PROFIBUS itself contributes troubleshooting information that can be shown in an HMI.

   “Use fewer abbreviations.”

I’m afraid abbreviations are inevitable in any field, so they won’t go away, but we will make a conscientious effort to define and explain them as we encounter them.

   “Great food.”  (This was a theme from the Indianapolis course evaluations.  Makes me wish I was there!)

We do try to hold the classes in nice venues.  And I do request chocolate chip cookies for the afternoon break.

I’ll try to upload this while changing planes in Dallas.  Next week watch for reports from the SPS/Drives show in Nuremberg.  I’ll be trying video reports as well.  (Video worked for Jim Cahill at ISA, so I have a flip video camcorder to try in Germany.)  I’ll be looking for all things PROFIBUS and PROFINET… and the display celebrating the 10th anniversary of PROFIsafe.

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