Old Engineers Resisting Fieldbuses

If you did not make it to the PROFINET one-day training class in Oak Brook, IL you can see a report from Mark Hoske of Control Engineering in his article, “Industrial Ethernet advantages using Profinet protocol.”

During the portion that Mark reports on, there was a really excellent observation.  One of the device manufacturers reported that he understood and was promoting the value of using a fieldbus, but his conversations with an engineering manager went nowhere.  The manager told him he would rather pay 10% more for the project and use hardwiring… because he did not think his staff could deal with a fieldbus.  I was only briefly speechless.  When I recovered I observed that some of the old engineers needed to retire.  There has been lots of concern expressed in the industrial automation press about what will happen when the storehouse of knowledge in soon-to-retire personnel go out the door.  So my view is a bit contrarian.  The younger folks entering the workplace won’t be afraid of new technology.  And they will be very comfortable using a computer.  [Reinforcing my opinion, I ran across this article after the class, “Majority of Kids Are Computer Savvy” – “An overwhelming majority (89%) of all kids age 6-11 in the US spend at least some time doing online activities…”]

“New” technology, I say about PROFIBUS which is celebrating 20 years in 2009!

Contradicting my old-engineers-need-to-retire philosophy, one of the attendees, a consultant to a large US corporation was 87 years old.  He also attended the PROFINET Developer Workshop the next day.  To be fair to myself, I did say “some” old engineers.  Definitely does not apply to Bill.