Treats and Tricks

First the treats (for me anyway): another PROFINET one-day training event and a visit to PTO member WAGO.

Professional Control Corporation (PCC) in Germantown, WI invited us to conduct a PROFINET one-day training event at their facility.  They invited lots of local folks, not just their customers.  PCC is a PTO member, too, one of our many distributor members.  The event was well attended.  The top request for more information on the Course Evaluation form was “PROFIBUS vs. PROFINET.”  My usual answer to the question “Should I use PROFIBUS or PROFINET?” is “YES.”  We will add some more comparison slides to the presentation to help users choose.  The gist of that message is that the need for large bandwidth (for vision systems, for example), larger address space, and connectivity to the enterprise points to PROFINET as the right choice.  Since there are only hundreds of devices for PROFINET it may be that one of the 2500 PROFIBUS devices may be called for.  If so, no worries.  PROFIBUS devices connect easily to PROFINET via a proxy.  (“Only hundreds” is still more than the other Industrial Ethernets which have only double digits of devices in their online catalogs.)

This usually leads to my pointing out that you should use the right bus for the right job.  An attendee pointed out that AS-i might be a better choice for some applications.  He was perhaps surprised when I agreed with him.  In fact one of our application stories uses PROFINET, PROFIBUS, and AS-i.  There’s a proxy for AS-i.  Even PROFIsafe works with AS-i in addition to PROFIBUS and PROFINET.  In fact, if you absolutely have to do “control in the field” use FF – we have a proxy for that, too.

WAGO’s headquarters is near the PCC office so I couldn’t leave town without stopping in to see what was new.  Tracy Lenz gave me the tour.  I was surprised how large the facility was; the training room must seat 70 students.  We ran into Marc Immordino in the training room, preparing for next week’s class and working on the material for a new, advanced class.  Amazing warehouse pick system (utilizing some of WAGO’s devices, of course) automates picking from the 68,000 parts in stock.  Plus they do custom work as well.  Overall it’s an impressive facility and will be even more so when the 12,000 square foot addition is finished.  After an early lunch with Tracy and Mark DeCramer it was off to the airport.  But not before gauging the activity level with PROFINET.  More WAGO PROFINET products are coming to join the existing catalog.

So much for the treats; now on to the tricks.  Note to self: don’t conduct events on Halloween.  The webinar audio got totally hosed for the archive.  Apparently my internal mike was recording instead of the plug-in mike.  Hearing my keyboard as I typed answers to questions turns out to be much less enlightening than hearing Hunter explain the slides.  We will re-do the webinar and post a corrected version in a week.  (Hunter is co-teaching the PROFINET Certified Network Engineer class next week.  The class is completely full again.  Watch for next year’s certification class schedule, including January in Detroit.)

Hunter’s laptop was travelling on Halloween and apparently picked up some kind of demon en route.  It would continuously return to the first slide of the PowerPoint.  We held an exorcism.  (Or, more correctly, Hunter disabled the touchpad and removed its driver.  At any rate, similar words were uttered.)  It worked after that.  Returning to my rental car to retrieve my forgotten cell phone, I noticed the license plate started with 666.

I lamented the absence of constructive criticism in a recent post about the webinar.  For the one-day training event I got some constructive criticism (the aforementioned PROFIBUS vs. PROFINET comment) and half a constructive criticism (without the constructive part).  Be careful what you ask for is the moral.  The unconstructive criticism said “Carl is a demanding jerk.  He should learn to respect people.”  It would have been constructive if the comment included my offense.  I’m guessing it may have come from some humor I tried to steal from California.  When we lived in Orange County we went up to Hollywood to see the taping of a couple sitcoms.  The emcee for one had this exchange with an audience member:

   Emcee: Where are you from?

   Audience guy: Utah.

   Emcee: I’m sorry.

   Audience guy: Utah.

   Emcee: No, I heard you; I’m just sorry.

I tried that with folks who indicated that they used a non-PROFI fieldbus.

[Disclaimer: I was not trying to insult users of other fieldbuses; I was just trying to be funny.  “We don’t eliminate the competition; we integrate them.” …and I have relatives in Utah – no insult intended against the Beehive State, either.]

Actually, I was once fired from a job for NOT being a demanding jerk.  My boss’ way of dealing with vendors was to be a demanding jerk.  I just did the demanding part, so the boss fired me.  Maybe I could get that job back now… if the company still existed.  Even though Gary Mintchell is pitching my services to ODVA, I think I’ll stay with PTO.  I’m having too much fun despite the occasional trick…

Speaking of tricks, one last trick on me that I have to report.  When I went out to the rental car Friday morning, moisture had condensed from the air onto the car and frozen.  I barely remember this phenomenon from my days “back east.”  This “frost” (as it is apparently called) had to be scraped off with a scraper provided for the purpose.  It’s now (Saturday afternoon) 92 degrees in Phoenix (and now maybe I am being a jerk.)